TRACY GUTH SPANGLER If it hurts…

TracySpanglerAGE   41

HOMETOWN / WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW?
Chicago – now live in South Orange, NJ

@TWITTER   @tgspangler (…though I’m hardly ever on there – amazingly enough, despite all the time I spend on Facebook, I don’t yet really “get” Twitter. I use it mostly to follow Simon le Bon’s tweets…)

ON THE WEB   If It Hurts

NUMBER OF CHILDREN   Two – Kate, 8, and Sara, 6

FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK   Reading is a huge thing in our house. My husband and I are both writers and editors, and we were both huge readers as kids and remain so to this day. I’m so pleased to see that both my girls are loving books, too.

I love reading Best Friends for Frances to them. I’ll read it as often as they let me. I love that it’s about two sisters, and it’s just adorable and hilarious, as are all the Frances books. She is always making up little songs, and we all sing along with them. We’ve made up our own melodies.

We all read the Junie B. Jones books together. It’s especially funny when Todd reads them aloud. We all crack up. My younger daughter is now in kindergarten and reading up a storm, so she loves to read those books aloud, too.

We read Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan to them early on. Those books are just so amazing. We’ve also read a lot of the Little House books, The Wizard of Oz, and Pippi Longstocking. My older daughter, Kate, is into the Nancy Drew mysteries right now, and she’s on the second Harry Potter book.

I’d like to keep reading to them and with them as they get older, even though they don’t actually need me to. On my list: The Secret Garden, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and especially the Wrinkle in Time series.

DAY JOB   I’m a freelance editor and writer. I worked in magazine publishing before I had Kate, and I’ve been working from home ever since, sometimes with more success than other times, based on nap schedules, energy, the economy, etc.

What I’d really love to do – my five-year plan – is open a bookstore in South Orange.

RELATIONSHIP STATUS   Married

HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY?

I was a freelance editor and writer before I had kids, but I mainly worked in offices.

After Kate was born I started working solely from home, and beyond a few office stints here and there, I’ve not really gone back to office work. When she was a baby I couldn’t stomach the thought, and because I’m fortunate enough to have a profession I can do from just about anywhere, I stayed home. I definitely have had my moments of wanting to go back to work, but lately I am enjoying being around during the day, and I’m trying to build up my client list again, now that my girls are both in school all day (kindergarten and second grade). I’m finding that it’s important to be around after the school day ends, and I’m glad I can be. That said, I’d probably like to work outside my home again someday, if and when the right situation comes along.

HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL?

It’s changed me tremendously.

Those difficult first years really forced me to examine myself and my own upbringing, and also just the ways I am in my relationships, and in the world. I feel like I know myself so much better, and so much more authentically now that I have kids. They really force you to be yourself and to be honest about it. With therapy and lots of yoga, which has really changed my life (I am training to teach it, in fact), I feel transformed – so much more centered and balanced and good. I also started a blog called If It Hurts, where I write a lot about about parenthood and yoga. I am hoping to somehow turn it into a book or some other project.

My own experience of becoming a mother has made me really interested in the transformations women go through when they have children.

HOW HAS PARENTING AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP?

It certainly has affected it, but for the most part I think we make a good parenting team. We have different approaches to things that usually (not always) complement each other. Having kids definitely challenges your relationship and gives you less time to focus on each other. But we’ve been together for a long time (since college) and we already knew each other very well by the time we had kids. I don’t think the event rocked our marriage in any way we didn’t expect. We have our rough spots, but I think our daughters actually help us align with each other when we’re not really feeling it otherwise.

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

I think I use humor and affection constantly to really connect with my daughters. I am better able these days to keep my own center and really serve as a source of support for them. I could probably be more of a disciplinarian than I am – I am the go-to parent, I think, when they want something, because I often cave. I still sometimes let my own stresses get in the way and I can snap and be cranky, but I have reined that in a whole hell of a lot.

WHAT ARE YOUR PARTNER’S STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES?

Todd is a very creative dad – he never gets tired of finding new ways to play and interact with them. He’s the kind of dad who knows how to take care of his kids – I don’t have to explain things to him. 😉 He’s the stricter one; he’s good at giving them boundaries. As far as weaknesses, he can be stubborn about things and hold to his principles when it doesn’t really serve the situation. So he can lock horns with the girls sometimes in ways that aren’t that useful.

WHO ELSE PROVIDES CHILDCARE FOR YOUR CHILDREN?

I’ve never had full- or part-time help – just babysitters here and there, but mostly for evenings. I’ve always done swaps with friends, as well – we help each other out if someone has an appointment or just wants to have dinner out with her husband.

WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?

When my daughters were very young I screamed, yelled and cried quite a bit. I was feeling like I was horrible at being a mother of two, and it seemed like every time something went wrong or got overwhelming, I would lose it. Afterward I’d feel guilty and like an even worse mother. I’ve worked through a lot since then, and as they get older and I get more comfortable with myself and with being a parent, it’s so much easier to communicate appropriately, and to react appropriately.

WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?

Anytime I look at my girls and see how amazing they are – happy, smart, sophisticated, engaged – and think I must have done something very right.

Lisa Duggan

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

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