PEGGY EXCELL-STONE No longer afraid of snakes.

AGE   48

HOMETOWN / WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW?   Whiting, Indiana / Maplewood, New Jersey

@TWITTER   @LotusPetalsMplw

ON THE WEB   Petals Design.com

NUMBER OF CHILDREN   Three; daughter, teenage son and grown step-son

DAY JOB   Own & operate a floral design boutique

RELATIONSHIP STATUS   Married

HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY?

My business is, literally, three blocks from my house.

When my son was in middle school, I made it a mandate that he stop in each day on his way home to say hi, because my shop is right in between the middle school and home. It was a way to be able to see him during the day, before the end of business at six. Now that he’s in high school on the other side of town, I don’t see him until I get home.

My daughter’s elementary school is five blocks from my shop. When it’s just me working, I close up from 2:25-2:50, while I walk down to pick her up and bring her back with me. She has snacks, does her homework and then does whatever she finds entertaining for the next few hours. She’s not always crazy about it (she says it’s boring), but I know that it’s time I’ll cherish when she’s older.

If I worked elsewhere, I wouldn’t get to see my kids at all during the work day. My husband works out of the house most of the time, so if I’m in a pinch or it’s especially busy, like a holiday, he takes the reins and brings her home with him. And he’s usually there when our son walks home from school. I work 6 days a week, so my husband has stepped up and taken responsibility for the kids on Saturdays – typically a busy day at a flower shop. It was a big shift in our family’s routine, since I’d been a stay at home mom for the first 11 years of their collective lives!

 HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL?

The kids, and how they will be affected by something, is the first thing I think of when making a decision. Any decision.

From purchasing a car, to serving dinner, to what I play on the radio in the car. I always liked to think of myself as a giving person, but with kids, the selfless part of me became more ever-present. I can’t always put them first, but I always think of them first.

And I am no longer afraid of snakes. So my kids wouldn’t be.

HOW HAS PARENTING AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP?  How often do you have sex? Is it enough? How do you communicate differently (if at all)?

Sex? What is this thing of which you speak? Having kids has definitely hampered our sex life. And it’s gotten harder, the older they’ve gotten – no pun intended. It puts a damper on one’s libido, knowing the kids can hear/walk in/know what’s going on. As far as communication goes, there are things that I choose not to discuss in front of the kids, so we have to postpone conversations frequently. That’s not always easy.

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

My strength is that I can set limits for the kids. Children need love and nurturing, but they also need boundaries and limits. It helps them feel safe. And to be responsible. I adore my kids. But it’s not my job to be their best friend. It’s my job to love them enough to help them become functioning, responsible, independent members of society. My weakness is that I take my job seriously, and need to remember to be flexible, too, and play a little more sometimes.

WHAT ARE YOUR PARTNER’S STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES?

My husband is very fun-loving with the kids. He can make them laugh with his goofy antics and silly voices, which can help diffuse problems sometimes. When a kid is ready to tune out yet another request to clean up their mess, a joke can often help break down resistance. That’s his strength. His weakness is that he has a hard time saying no if he knows the kids will be disappointed. And that’s part of what kids need to learn, too. Handling disappointment.

WHO ELSE PROVIDES CHILDCARE FOR YOUR CHILDREN?

Nobody. Zip. Zero. Zilch. No family anywhere near for a couple of states. The balance of kids/house/husband/work/self can be overwhelming at times. That’s when I lose it, cry it out or meditate and in a week or two I feel better. ☺

DO ANY OF YOUR CHILDREN HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS? AND IF SO, HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOUR PARENTING?

Our teenage son has ADHD. It definitely affects how I parent, because I have to be more patient and understanding of the impulsivity and sometimes overwhelming energy that goes along with the hyperactivity. I worry that his impulsivity will get him into trouble around people who don’t have that patience.

But as the years have gone by, I see that he’s made choices in friends, etc., who ‘get him’. They understand that my son gets extremely hyperactive, and so he can say and do things around them without having to monitor himself. I’ve started letting go of the worry. A little bit.

WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?

Twofold. 1. Any time that I have to disappoint my kids because I have to work. It breaks my heart that I don’t have a clone that I can call at will to double for me when they’re calling for library volunteers, or PTA board members. I have to keep telling myself that I do what I can, whenever I can. And that doesn’t mean doing it all. But I want to.

And 2. Worrying about my teenager. There are so many things that we stupidly did when we were kids. I expect him to do the same stupid things. But the stakes feel higher, for him. More dangerous. I worry for his physical and emotional safety, and just hope that we’ve given him all the right tools to make mistakes he can recover from.

WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?

Too many to count. Times that the kids have accomplished something they wanted to do or learn very much, and I see the pride and sense of satisfaction on their faces. Watching them become loving, caring beings. Bedtime. Early mornings. Snuggling.

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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