Sarah is the mother of a young girl named ZZ (no periods, not short for anything). She recently turned 3 and she and Sarah play by their own rules. Here's what Sarah had to say about her experience as a mom and finding the balance between work & family.
I am the Evaluation and Contract Manager for First 5 Napa County. I was lucky to find this position that only requires 20 hours a week. Because First 5 was created on the premise that the first 5 years of life are the most valuable developmentally, they are more than accommodating of my schedule and needs as a single mom of a 3 year old. I brought my daughter to the job interview! Since then she has accompanied me to conferences, meetings, and site visits!Sarah and ZZ inspire me. Knowing that there's two child-like individuals out there dancing and leaving the house in princess attire is what makes this world such a special place. I think it could be said of most single parents but we tend to expect our children to have a bit more responsibility at an early age, which is why it's that much more important to us to allow our children (and ourselves) that time to just be children - silly, brave, proud, brilliant and curious.
What makes you happy, as a parent?
The birthday cakes I receive each morning, carefully created and handcrafted by my 3 year old. I receive the cake, candy and the Happy Birthday song every morning in bed (the cake is usually stars she pulled from a skirt, erasers, and beads)!
When my daughter will stop whatever she’s doing and exclaim, “Mama, Mama- can I tell you something?” I then say, “Yes.” She promptly tells me, “I love you.” My heart melts.
Walking around with stickers on my cheeks and a tiara on my head!
What’s the healthiest thing about your relationship with your daughter?
She and I play by our own rules. When my husband of 10 ½ years left, ZZ was only 8 months old and my world fell apart. Two and half years later I am grateful he gave me the opportunity to be a single mom. It has freed me up to live how I want to live! And that means ZZ and I play by our own rules!
When ZZ wakes up in the middle of the night she is ALWAYS welcome in my bed! We dance, hula hoop in our kitchen, jump on the bed, have Gak fights in the house with the neighbor boys, collect nature “treasures” (leaves, etc.) and bring them inside, leave the house in princess dresses, tiaras and sparkles on our cheeks!
Who cares what others think? We don’t! Oh yeah, and our 70 pound Siberian Husky, Marble, spends each morning in bed with us!
Kids say the cutest things. What is the funniest story you recall about ZZ?
ZZ has been asking me about my own mother quite a lot lately. She died about 10 years ago from cancer. I’ve been struggling with how to explain death to her keeping my own Buddhist beliefs present in the explanation.
Recently I was telling her that bodies eventually stop working and that people die, like my mother, that their spirits carry on but that we can’t be with them in the same way at this time. Her response was so sweet. She told me, “We better get your mommy a new body. Mama, you will hold your mommy’s head and I will fix a new body for her. Then we can know your mommy.”
What is your proudest parenting moment?
We were going to a birthday party recently where Cinderella was going to make an appearance. ZZ is obsessed with princesses right now. A friend asked ZZ who was going to be at the party. Her reply, “My mommy.”
What is your biggest parenting challenge?
Accepting that I won’t always “get things done.” I used to be someone who accomplished things, but now I sometimes spend hours just trying to get out of the house! Being a single parent - I struggle if I get sick or am just plain tired. I don’t have the same back-up which at times can be brutal.
What’s your favorite family-friendly restaurant?
Kelly’s No Bad Days Café, Napa, CA
What’s your favorite activity you enjoy with your daughter?
By far it’s going to the beach. My father, sister and I all surf. The beach is a very important place for us as a family. A family that surfs together, stays together!
What advice would you give to new or expecting parents?
Remove all expectations of yourself and your child.
Who or where do you go to for parenting advice?
I go to other single parents. I believe we have different needs and expectations of ourselves. It’s tough and we need to keep it realistic.
How would ZZ describe you?
She’d say mom participates, engages, plays, is honest and loves to kiss and snuggle!
I'm pleased to have met so many wonderful individuals - even if it has just been on line - and I encourage you to go out and explore your neighborhood and community for parents that you might not otherwise meet. Regardless of whether or not your children will get along, or are the same age, parents need other parents and you'd be surprised at just how much you will grow from having another experienced mom or dad to share a drink with or go to for advice.
And if you're not very outgoing, don't have time to socialize or simply can't imagine letting someone else into your life, meeting people online is another way to vent, express your opinions or learn from others. Thanks to everyone who took the time to share their lives and experiences here with the series of parent profiles. I'll be sharing my answers to these same questions shortly.