MANDY JENSEN-DOSS Asking all the right questions.

The lows and highs of parenthood, and everything in between.

AGE   34

HOMETOWN(S)   Tucson, AZ / Miami, FL

NUMBER OF CHILDREN   Two; a four-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son

FAVORITE CHILD   Depends on what kind of a day we’re having!

DAY JOB   Assistant Professor of Child Clinical Psychology

RELATIONSHIP STATUS   Married

HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY?

My husband and I try to share things as evenly as possible, through a combination of turn-taking (e.g., “I did bath last night!”) and division of labor (e.g., he mows the lawn and I make sure our daughter has ballet shoes that fit). We work in the same department, which helps us coordinate.

We are very lucky to both be in a flexible career that allows us to be able to be responsive to sick kids and “teacher workdays” at daycare, although that flexibility can also be a curse in the sense that we then both feel like we should be working every evening and on weekends, which is basically impossible if you want to retain any shred of sanity. Our lives feel hectic, so we try to remind each other to slow down and enjoy the kids and make it a priority to plan at least one “purely fun” outing every weekend.

HOW HAS PARENTING AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP?

My husband does research on the effects of the transition to parenthood on marital satisfaction. Before we had children, I refused to believe all of the data that show that your marital satisfaction declines after you have children. Now that we have children, I understand those findings better, although I’m not sure those researchers have necessarily been asking all of the right questions.

Of course your satisfaction declines in some ways—it gets much more difficult to spend time together as a couple and, even when you do find the time, you’re often too tired to make the best use of it. However, my experience has also been that I appreciate my husband in so many new ways. Getting to see him with our kids has shown me a new, wonderful side of his personality.

Working together with him to raise our children has made me even more convinced that we make a great team. So, in those ways, I would say that having children has made me more dedicated to our marriage and has strengthened it in ways that I hadn’t anticipated.

WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?

The period of time after starting our daughter in daycare was really rough for me. It had never occurred to me to stop working after she was born—I had worked hard for my degree, enjoyed my work, and the feminist movement had taught me that I could do it all. I was therefore completely blindsided by the overwhelming Mommy Guilt that followed me around for those first few months after I started back to work.

I became completely obsessed with how daycare was falling short of home, worrying that my daughter’s cognitive development was being irrevocably delayed because she wasn’t napping enough there. The focus of most of this guilt and anxiety became nursing, as I spent all day and part of the evening pumping milk, trying to keep up with what she was eating at school.

I remember hitting a low point one day on the way home from picking my daughter up— I had pumped 12 ounces of milk that day (in hindsight, a very impressive amount) and arrived at daycare to find that she had eaten 18 ounces in the six hours we had been apart that day. That night, in a rare moment of clarity, I bought a can of formula to take to daycare, and began a slow progression back to sanity.

WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?

It’s hard to think of a single moment, but I have always gotten a thrill seeing my kids do something for the very first time. Whether it’s seeing my son take his first steps or my daughter write her name for the first time, those milestones always make me feel like doing a little victory dance.

Lisa D

Lisa Duggan is the founder of The Modern Village, and publisher of TheParentduJour.com and TheMotherHoodBlog.com.

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