HOMETOWN Montclair, NJ
ON THE WEB Go Lightly Store
NUMBER OF CHILDREN One
DAY JOB Owner of vegan café/eco-store, Go Lightly, 4 So. Fullerton Ave, Montclair NJ
RELATIONSHIP STATUS Single
FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK
There are so many, it’s hard to choose one. There was Animal Poems, and we read it so many times that my daughter Prairie would “read” it back to me from memory when she was just two. I still remember her version of the poems as she tried so hard to “read” them perfectly. Then as she grew older we’d read novels and series together and we’d get so into the stories that they became part of our conversations throughout the day. The Little House on the Prairie books, Betsy-Tacy books, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, The Hunger Games, and Chris Wooding (scary!) books were our favorites.
HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY?
I opened my business, a local storefront, primarily because I wanted to work in the town we live in and to have autonomy over my life so I could be available for my daughter. I am very tied to my store but it is a half mile from Prairie’s school and she walks to the store when she gets out. She is older now, so she can go walk around town with friends and walk herself to the YMCA or to guitar or photography lessons, but it is important to me that I am nearby for her to check in. We wouldn’t have that if I worked in an office or in another town.
HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL?
Well, I used to ride a Harley and I never thought I’d give that up! I certainly don’t see my life as just being mine any more. I have to be responsible because someone very important is depending on me. That’s not to say I give up all adventures- I just make sure they are adventures we can share safely.
HOW HAS PARENTING AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP?
I have been a single mom since my daughter was a baby and I never could figure out how to date and be a mom and work- so I pretty much didn’t date. But as she is getting older and having her own life I am finding there is a space opening up to let more things into my life.
WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS AS A PARENT AND WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES?
My strength, I think, is being able to communicate with my daughter. Since she was born I always felt it was fair to explain things to her based on the level she is at. I never thought, “She’s just a kid. She can’t understand.” I always want to be open and honest with her and let her know where I’m coming from, and hear where she’s coming from. But my weakness is that I am often impatient and quick tempered. I can blame this on stress, but it’s my job to handle my stress and not take it out on my child. It’s something I constantly work on…because trying times do not go away, but bad reactions to them can.
WHAT ARE YOUR PARTNER’S STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES?
I don’t live with my daughter’s father, but he of course is a very involved father. Over time, we’ve managed to work out a cohesive routine and co-parenting structure that makes our daughter know she is very loved by both of us even though we live separately. Teachers have even commented that even at a young age, Prairie did not exhibit the signs that some kids do when they go back and forth between two homes. I owe this to each of us respecting one another as parents and letting each do what we do best. The weakest aspect has been communication, as we get so into our own roles and lives, we forget to check in until situations arise. I’m always striving for more consistency in this.
WHO ELSE PROVIDES CHILDCARE FOR YOUR CHILDREN?
We have been so lucky to have family and friends around for childcare. My parents have been constant childcare providers, and now my daughter calls them up to hang out just for fun. I’m happy they are so close. I’ve even sent my daughter to stay with my friends from my high school days. They have young children and while I am at work, it’s been a nice treat for all of them to spend time together.
DO ANY OF YOUR CHILDREN HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS? AND IF SO, HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOUR PARENTING?
No special needs. My daughter is very independent and has always been self-guided as far as schoolwork. I’ve often counted this blessing because I hear how other families stress over homework and academics. So far, Prairie is doing well!
WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?
When I am tied up with work worries. I chose my job so I can be around physically, but mentally, I am not always “checked-in” with my kid and that bothers me. It is something I constantly struggle with.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?
When the house is full of good healthy food, I make a good meal, we chat and laugh, and I am on top of everything that’s going on in Prairie’s life: school, friends, and issues she’s having, etc. I want raising my daughter to be my primary job, and even though I have to work outside the home, it is the job I want to be best at. After all, childhood does not last forever, and now is the time I need to be focusing on being a mom.