Welcome back! Today, I am sharing my interview with one of my best friends. I met Alyssia when I was a sophomore in college. We’ve shared high moments and low moments. We’ve watched each other grow into wives and moms. I’ve always admired Alyssia’s wisdom and her ability to help me see the positive in almost any situation. In this interview, Alyssia shares how life is changing while raising her school aged son.
Tell me about yourself. Who are you? What do you do? How many children do you have?
My name is Alyssia and I’m from Fort Wayne, IN. I am a registered nurse in surgical oncology. I am married with one not-so-little boy.
How do you define motherhood?
Wonderful, challenging, exhausting (physically and emotionally), but worth it, so worth every sacrifice, for which there are/will be many.
Describe the stage of motherhood you are currently in.
The school age mom. I am learning to develop a new balance, one that involves working around school and extracurricular activities. No longer can I spontaneously decide to take a day off work to enjoy a day trip or minimally packed museum day. There are no more vacations during the off-season. That loss of freedom as we incorporate school into our schedule has been a major adjustment this year.
What do enjoy most about this stage?
Getting to peak inside his brain and see glimpses of his adult self. He never ceases to amaze me with the thoughts he possesses and observations he makes. He’s so eager to be helpful and earnestly seeks reassurance and praise. We’ve quickly learned that his love language is words of affirmation. He’s also quick to pass them along, often telling us how wonderful we are or how much he loves us.
What is most challenging about this stage?
The logic battles. He is at an age where he is curious about the world and its operations. He seeks logical explanations for every decision we make. He is also learning so much outside the home that he often challenges the way we do things because he is understanding that there are different ways of living. “Why do I have to go to bed when you get to stay up?” “So and so has this or gets to do that.” “That’s not fair, you NEVER let me do what I want.” “You ALWAYS tell me no.” “But I am a big kid, why cannot I play that game?!”
How do you handle all his questions?
I typically try to answer him with an answer I would expect if I asked the question. So if he’s asking about bedtime and sleeping I tell him that he needs to get rest so he can grow. If he’s complaining about something I won’t let him do, like a game he saw a friend with that he wants, I’ll explain how it’s for a certain age. His new favorite thing is asking why he has to brush his teeth all the time. I remind him (almost daily) that it’s because we don’t want the sugar bugs (that’s what the dentist called them 2 years ago and it stuck) to eat his teeth. Sometimes when I’ve already explained it several times and he’s still unsatisfied, I tell him to go play. If I’m having a rough day, I’ll tell him Mommy is tired and ask if we can talk about it later or I tell him to go to his dad if I’m really worn thin. Usually he’s okay after the first or second explanation, but sometimes he continues to ask why and I have to resort to “that’s just the way it is.” I always hated the “because I said so” response when I was little, so I use that answer when I can’t think of any other way to answer his question in the moment, which usually results in an exasperated sigh from him.
What does self-care look like for you right now?
Reading a good book. I am an introvert working in an extremely people-oriented field. I require almost daily opportunities to decompress to avoid mental and emotional overload and burnout. Nothing helps me unwind better than a great story. A close second is a quiet shower, followed by a sunny walk.
Can you share some of the books you’ve read recently?
- Silver Bay by JoJo Moyes
- Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
- The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate
- Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Where do you find support as a mom?
Mom friends. I believe it is so crucial to our well-being as mothers/parents to have people we can do life with. People we can vent to without judgment and condemnation. [People] who understand that we have moments of weakness and self-doubt and love us despite those moments. [Friends] who aren’t afraid to give us constructive feedback when needed, but with a gentleness that doesn’t shut us down.
What has had the greatest influence on you as a parent or your parenting style?
Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development. My first undergrad degree was in elementary education, for which I had to take a class on child development. Learning how, from birth on, every experience shapes our view of ourselves and our world really resonated with me. That concept forces me to be cognizant of my responses to [my son] and how we are shaping his inner dialogue. It’s a constant reminder that children are fragile and impressionable, they are not these resilient beings society tries to convince us they are. Our actions toward them now impact their future selves in ways we cannot fully understand. I want him to grow into an emotionally intelligent man, who knows how to identify and process his emotions and isn’t afraid to be vulnerable.
Tell me the most important thing(s) you hope to pass on to your son?
Faith and confidence. I want Quinn to know without a shadow of a doubt that his life has purpose and that he is loved. I want him to experience the faithfulness of God in ways unimaginable and to know the peace of resting in God’s promises. I want him to have confidence in his ability to do whatever he desires as long as he’s willing to work for it.
What’s one thing you have learned as a mom that you would tell your pre-kid self?
It’s so cliché, but it’s true…the days are long, but the years are short, so enjoy every moment. Don’t allow yourself to become so busy and preoccupied that you miss out on moments with your children. We are building memories that will last a lifetime; don’t shortchange yourself or them. There isn’t a day where I made the decision to enjoy the moment, over completing some mundane task, which I regret.
What’s one piece of advice you want to share with other moms?
Be kind to yourself. There will always be times that you feel inadequate. Don’t be afraid of challenging moments. We are only human. We have faults, flaws and past traumas that we are overcoming. If you aren’t being challenged, you likely aren’t growing. Just as we extend grace and unwavering love to our children, we need to give it to ourselves.