KARA GEBHART UHL Three angels and some pasta.

AGE   32

HOMETOWN / WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW? I spent most of my childhood in Liberty Twp., OH. Now I live across the river from Cincinnati, in Fort Thomas, KY.

@TWITTER   @pleiadesbee

ON THE WEB  Pleiadesbee.com

NUMBER OF CHILDREN   Three

FAVORITE CHILD   if applicable* (we’re joking*) N/A 🙂

DAY JOB   Stay-at-home mom, writer and editor.

RELATIONSHIP STATUS   Married

HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY?

I never thought I would be a stay-at-home mom but after my daughter, Sophie, was born I discovered the benefit of staying home with her — plus the amount of money I could make freelance writing and editing outweighed going back to work and paying for a sitter.

At the time, my idealistic pregnant self imagined my daughter playing with wooden blocks quietly beside me while I wrote beautiful prose all afternoon. Ha. These days (which include caring for Sophie, who is now 3-1/2, and 17-month-old twin boys, James and Owen) all my freelance work is done in the evenings, after the children are in bed.

If I’m dealing with a really tight deadline or have a lot of work to accomplish, I’ll leave the house as soon as my husband gets home from work and escape to a Starbucks—or hide out in my bedroom (although my children always seem to find me there). Every once in awhile I’m forced to stay up until the wee hours of the morning working, and while I’m not much fun to be around the next day (I don’t function well on two hours of sleep) I still consider it worth it, to be able to combine a career I love with staying home with my kids. And, of course, my husband’s job is such that all of this is financially feasible.

HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL?

I’ve learned to let things go. Or, I should say, I’m learning to let things go. It’s a work in progress.

My house is never completely clean. More often than not I’m searching through a pile of clean clothes in a clothes basket versus a stack of folded pants in a dresser drawer when getting my daughter, Sophie, ready for preschool. My children do not get baths every night. My closest is no longer organized by sleeve length and color (I laugh at that now). Often, my boys’ socks don’t match.

I imagine, when my children are older, the cabinet with the Tupperware will once again be organized but for now, it doesn’t make sense to constantly match up containers with lids when my boys are simply going to empty the cabinet all over the kitchen floor the next morning. It’s been difficult—learning to let things go—but I think I’m a better mother because of it.

HOW HAS PARENTING AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP?

My husband and I can very easily sense when the other one is losing it and, as such, we adjust our own fears, expectations and actions to reflect that. We had some very trying days dealing with a 2-year-old and twin newborns, living on little-to-no sleep, wading through piles of laundry, always cleaning breast pump and bottle parts, constantly feeding, burping, holding, calming, changing, loving.

And if one of us was having a really tough day, the other would simply take over. And surprisingly, it always worked out that way—never did we found ourselves both losing it, simultaneously. In that sense, we’ve become a good team.

WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS AS A PARENT AND WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES?

I’m good at multitasking. I can clean the kitchen while playing hide-and-go seek with the kids while contemplating my next essay while thinking of what we have in the fridge and deciding if it will suffice for dinner. Whenever my husband comes home to a clean house, a home-cooked meal and happy children (not often, but it happens) he jokes and asks who I hired to help me that day.

I also think reading and children’s books are very important so we read, a lot, throughout the day. In terms of weakness, I have very little patience. I’ve improved on this front since having children (you have to) but I find myself getting agitated with tantrums earlier than I should, tiring of crying earlier than I should, frustrated with noncompliance more often than I should.

On bad days I find myself retreating to Facebook on the computer versus really connecting with my children in the ideal way a mother should. Some days I sigh a little too heavily a little too often (and I know this because my boys, who are in the mimicking stage, will sigh heavily back at me, in response).

WHAT ARE YOUR PARTNER’S STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES?

My husband has the most amazing patience. He’ll spend five minutes with our daughter showing her how to load batteries in a dead toy whereas I’d simply do it myself to get the job done faster. More than once he has sensed me losing it while holding one of our crying sons and has simply said “here.” He’s taken them, calmed then and, in that way, calmed me.

Whereas I like to simply get things done, he likes to make sure things are done right—from sanding, priming and then painting vs. just painting to explaining something about our world in a very detailed way vs. simply saying “that’s just the way it is.” In addition, when all three of my children were newborns, he would help me with the night feedings (changing diapers when I breastfed Sophie, giving a boy a bottle of pumped milk while I fed the other one).

I later learned not all dads do that and I’m so thankful he did. In terms of weakness, my husband often underestimates how long things take— from getting three fully dressed children and a fully stocked diaper bag out the door on time to packing for a week-long trip to the grandparents’ house—or how often things need to be done—from laundry (eventually, you need clean clothes) to running the dishwasher (eventually, you need clean dishes). It can lead to arguments. But I believe there are arguments in every marriage and daily I feel so lucky to be in the marriage I’m in—I couldn’t have asked for a better husband or a better father for our kids. And for that, I’m ever thankful.

WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?

The moment when I pulled a long piece of dry angel hair pasta out of my son, Owen’s, eye.

I had given the kids dry goods—rice, pasta, etc.—to “cook” with in their play kitchen. I thought it would prompt imaginative play and what child doesn’t like to dip his hands in a bowl full of dry rice? Everything was going along splendidly until Owen started crying—hard—and I looked over to see a thin piece of pasta sticking straight out of his eyeball, like an arrow. I panicked, pulled it out, panicked some more and then called the pediatrician.

Thankfully the pasta was was sticking out of the corner of his eye—not the pupil—and after a long conversation the pediatrician finally convinced me over the phone that my son was not blind. And no, I don’t let the boys play with dry pasta anymore.

WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?

Any moment when I feel truly connected to my children. When my children were infants there was a fierce bond, yes, but little feedback aside from a coo or smile, which non-helpful people would love to say was simply a result of gas. But once the smiling became consistent, and the giggling after a zerbert began, I became smitten in my role as a mother.

I realize good parenting means means time-outs and tears, but I consider my best parenting moments are those when my children are truly happy, with me, with their life. And it continues, with unprompted “I love you’s” from Sophie and sideways smiles from my sons. And I hope it will keep continuing, with surprising “thank you” and “I love you” moments during the teenage years, when I imagine many parents feel as if they’re failing more often than succeeding.

Perhaps a weakness, I thrive on positive feedback and when one of my sons says “book” and then brings his favorite to me, climbs on my lap and shakes with excitement as I turn to the first page, that’s a good moment.

 

Lisa D

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

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