HOMETOWN Columbus, OH
ON THE WEB Sperk*
NUMBER OF CHILDREN Two girls: Sophia, 13 and Antonia, 11
DAY JOB Stay-at-home mom for 13 years. Aspiring writer. Blogger. In search of the perfect career in education.
RELATIONSHIP STATUS Divorced. Currently in a committed relationship (five years).
FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK My girls loved The Foot Book, by Dr. Seuss. We wore out three copies of it. Another favorite we still read today is Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein. We had the CD and would play it in the van, reciting the poems in silly voices right along with Silverstein.
HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY?
My girls are in middle school, which means they are away from home during the day. Anything I need to do, I do then. After school and in the evenings I devote my time to them.
HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL?
Because I wanted my daughters to grow up with a strong sense of self, I went on a vigilant quest to allow my true self to emerge and blossom.
HOW HAS PARENTING AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP?
We are a two-household family. My girls are with me (and my significant other) during the week and with their dad and step-mom on the weekends. One would think that having the weekends off from parenting would spice up the relationship. This is not always true. Friday nights we are exhausted, Saturday we miss them and talk of them all the time, and Sunday is spent preparing for their arrival home.
WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS AS A PARENT AND WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES?
My strength lies in supporting my girls to express themselves—all of it: anger, sadness, happiness, worry, and joy. I was raised to hide anger and sadness and therefore felt bad or wrong when experiencing such emotions and acquired no tools to express my needs. I did not want this for my girls. My other strengths include listening and being a parent (not a friend). I do not judge or impose upon them my ideas of who they should be or what they should do. I stay present in order to take advantage of the teachable moments. And I am a fierce protector who provides tools for them to protect themselves.
My weaknesses lie in my inability to adhere to a schedule and my affinity for procrastination. Also, I have unresolved guilt over putting them through divorce which results in occasionally overcompensating by excusing them from household responsibilities or buying them things I cannot afford.
WHAT ARE YOUR PARTNER’S STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES?
My partner struggles with his role as a step-parent. For example, sometimes he feels comfortable saying to the girls, “I see you left your dishes on the table.” Contrarily, sometimes after the girls have left the room, he will turn to me and say, “The girls left their dishes on the table.” To walk the line of being mom’s live-in boyfriend who is fun to throw softball with, and a disciplinarian who expects the girls to follow household guidelines, is no easy task.
His strength lies in that he loves the girls and wants to be a support in their lives—someone they can count on. His weaknesses lie in his lack of confidence that the girls respect his input and truly enjoy him being here.
WHO ELSE PROVIDES CHILDCARE FOR YOUR CHILDREN?
No babysitters. It’s me, my significant other, and their dad.
DO ANY OF YOUR CHILDREN HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS? AND IF SO, HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOUR PARENTING?
My girls are typically developing adolescents. Even though their current stage of development makes me feel like I have special needs, I know we are blessed to fall into that ever illusive category of “normal”.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?
Sitting the girls down around our dining room table and telling them that their dad and I were getting a divorce.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?
There is not one shining moment that stands out. It’s when I am completely present and in the moment with them that the best moments occur.