AMELIA HERTZBERG The art of accepting help.

AGE   n/a

HOMETOWN(S)   I grew up in Groveland, Massachusetts, and, after some moving about, I’m living in Belmont, Massachusetts.

NUMBER OF CHILDREN   Three: 5, 3, and 5 months

DAY JOB   I’m a stay-at-home mother, which means my day job is running myself ragged.

RELATIONSHIP STATUS   Married seven and a half years.

FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK   I love reading old folk tales from around the world to my kids and learning about other cultures and history, but my all time favorites are Beatrix Potter’s series of children’s books.

HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY?   My husband is very sensitive to the fact that I require something that is only mine- or I quickly become impossible to live with. Since I don’t have work as an outlet, he’s very good about enabling me to get out in the evenings and weekends to attend classes, etc., and he also picks up books for me at the university library.

HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL?

I used to be very independent. Parenting is so draining and consuming, though, that I have learned the art of accepting help.

HOW HAS PARENTING AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP?

How hasn’t it? We used to divide household chores evenly, read to each other each night, and habitually debate about important political and metaphysical topics. Now I do the housework, hardly have time for any reading beyond those children’s books I love so much, and find myself searching for something to say on any subject other than our children and house. My husband and I married in college and were attracted to each other because we were equals on an equal playing field. Now that our fields have diverged, there’s been a lot of adjustment, but the fact that my husband values my intellect and personal abilities has really shined through.

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

We had a really hard day today, so I am definitely aware of my weaknesses.

When the children ignore or disobey me, I’ll give a couple reminders before my temper rises, but when I’m in a temper, though, I lose all flexibility and creativity. I tend to yell the same request louder and louder, expecting different results — classic insanity.

I think my strengths as a mom are doing fun things together with my kids each day and nourishing their creativity and self esteem. I also like how open I am with my kids. When I’ve behaved poorly, I say so, apologize, and try to brainstorm different ways I could have handled the situation better. Hopefully, that is teaching my kids that they should be upfront with their own mistakes instead of being ashamed of them. I also hope it ensures they know they aren’t responsible for my bad behavior.

WHAT ARE YOUR PARTNER’S STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES?

My husband is far too quick to yell. His strengths do outweigh his weaknesses, though. He is very involved with the kids. He does things with them, reads to them, and gives a lot of positive feedback. They love their daddy and know he loves them.

WHO ELSE PROVIDED CHILDCARE FOR YOUR FAMILY?

It is I!

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

My oldest son has Asperger’s, which makes patience and flexibility essential. He gets stuck and can’t control himself, and that makes it all the more important that I don’t get stuck or lose control of myself. He is not able to naturally pick up social cues; they need to be taught, so I need to be constantly modeling good behavior and verbalizing things that the rest of people just know (or think they do, anyway). The hardest part is the constant need to find new ways of helping him to calm down and control himself when he starts getting upset or wound up.

WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?

Besides my temper, I’d say my worst parenting moments are when my oldest is absolutely freaking out about something in public, and I have felt ashamed of him. I’ve got to be his number one fan and support, so I feel awful at those times when I’ve been embarrassed by him and just wished he could quiet down and be “normal.”

WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?

Anytime I see one of my children look up at me with joy and pride at a new discovery.

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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