Second-Guessing Ourselves: A Mother’s Day Reflection

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I always knew I wanted to have children, and I think at one point, I thought I’d have a lot of them.

That was until my daughter almost killed me during delivery, and as well as from the aftereffects of said delivery. Honestly, if she had been born before my son, I would only have one kid. What happened during that delivery scared the living daylights out of me. I knew I’d never have another child after that. (Which actually, was quite convenient, as my husband was content with two kids: a boy and a girl.)

And yet that incident left me second-guessing, which starts to become the mantra of a mother. You’ve heard your friends and family members tell a story about their child and then add on, “I should have done this….” It’s true. We do it.  It’s easy to continually second-guess yourself about how you’ve raised (and continue to raise) your kids. Did I do enough? Have I been supportive enough? Honest enough? Loving enough? Understanding enough? Tough enough?

You get it, right moms? The list goes on and on. The truth is, we’re not perfect. No one is.

We can second-guess ourselves until the cows come home. (And I’m told, eventually, the cows do come home, but it could take a while).

So my thought for this Mother’s Day is a simple one: we have to stop questioning ourselves.

Hear me clearly:

You have done enough. You are doing enough. You are enough. Your kids love you despite your mistakes, your occasional bad moods, your tendency to say “no” sometimes for their own good, your chaotic schedules and long work hours, your incapacity to ride the big rollercoaster at the theme park, and your ability to always rise above any nonsense and always be able to hug them and tell them that you love them.

When I read what my kids wrote in my card today for Mother’s Day, I realized a couple of things: (1) they say sweet things—and they mean them, and (2) no second-guessing is going to stop me from being the best damn mother I can be, even when it’s hard, even when I don’t always agree with them, even when I see things differently than they do, and even when they say they don’t need help with something, but they really do.

Being a mother means we have that “mom radar”—we know when guidance is needed, when a hug is needed, and when lending an ear and really listening can make all the difference.

I’m not a perfect mom, and I don’t pretend to be one. I’ve lost my cool. I’ve yelled (I’m Italian—what the hell do you expect?) I say stupid stuff sometimes when they want to hear something else.

Nevertheless, I am a mother, and I know I am learning right along with them as we all continue to grow together.

And second-guessing our past decisions, tactics, and methodologies won’t do anyone any good. We do the best we can. Each. And. Every. Day.

Trust me: the kids are alright.

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.





The Day After Mother’s Day: The Debate Over Who Works Harder—Stay-at-Home Moms, Working Moms, or Part-Time Moms? Debunking the Myth

imagesToo often I hear moms battling it out over who works harder—the stay-at-home mom, the working mom, or the part-time mom. I’ve seen moms look down their noses at others for the time they put into their work, whether that work takes place in the home, in the office, at a computer, or at a variety of other professional places. As we celebrated Mother’s Day yesterday, moms everywhere were heralded for their devotion to their children, for their unending love for the job at hand, and for doing the hardest work on the planet—parenting.

Despite all that celebrating, I think it’s time for moms everywhere to stop beating each other up. The bottom line is that being a mom is challenging, whether you’re balancing dishes or earning a degree or fighting for a promotion. As someone who has been lucky enough to experience all three aspects of motherhood, I’m sorry to say, there’s just no easy way out. No matter how you slice it, the job comes with its advantanges and its disadvantages.

I spent some long days alone when my kids were small trying to figure out how to fill the time from when my husband left in the morning until he came home at night; when my kids got a little older and I decided to work part-time, I had to balance the house, the kids, and the job; and, in 2008, when I became a full-time faculty member at a university, I had not only to balance the kids and the job, but I also had to go back to school to earn a Master’s of Fine Arts degree. To say I didn’t sleep much is putting it lightly.


Each and every one of those jobs requires a sacrifice of some kind, whether it meant giving up a good career to raise the kids and being a masterful juggler, to balancing work and home with a part-time job, to throwing myself into my work and hoping my kids will understand why I could only spend one day with them on the weekend as I pursued a career in the field of education.

Ladies—moms everywhere—it’s time to stop beating each other up. In this wonderful United States of America, we have the divine privilege of choice and what works best for our families. If your family relies on your salary to keep the family afloat or if you are a career woman, then the choice may be to work and bring in an income and advance your career. If your family needs a little money on the side or you just want to stay busy in a part-time capacity, then that choice may suit you. Or, if you have the wonderful luxury of staying at home with your children, you may decide that meets the needs of the family best.

The bottom line? Who are we to judge another woman’s choice? What we should be doing is praising that woman for all that she does for her kids and her family. We all make choices in life—some good ones, some fair ones, and some really, really bad ones—but ultimately, it’s that mom’s choice and not ours.

Mommies everywhere, here’s my advice: if you want to be happy with the decisions you make to raise your children, stop comparing yourself to others. You are uniquely you and your family is uniquely yours.

Captured this moment at Fenway son with his arm around his sister during batting practice.
Captured this moment at Fenway Park…my son with his arm around his sister during batting practice.
My kids love me just as much now with my full-time job as a professor as they did when I stayed at home and played with Legos or took them to the park; and, when I worked part-time in different capacities I had to balance “office time” with “play time.” Between my husband and me and along with some wonderful grandparents, we have always found a way to make things work. My children have seen what it takes to be committed to something and want to succeed in a career. They understand the sacrifices I have made and continue to make sometimes. But they are loving, good kids, and luckily for me, they totally get it and understand.

It’s time to adopt the attitudes of our kids and respect and encourage one another instead of trying to tear each other down.

If you don’t believe this is a real discussion that can rip friendships apart, I’m here to tell you otherwise. It can. It has. It does. Plus, all you need to do is GOOGLE working moms vs. stay-at-home moms. You’ll be amazed at the multitude of articles that continue to barrage the Internet.

In closing, from me to you, whether you work full-time, part-time, in the home, or perhaps are retired and are enjoying motherhood from a different perspective, Happy Belated Mother’s Day.

In case anyone hasn’t told you today, you’re doing a great job.

Don’t let anyone allow you feel otherwise.


The Top 10 Ways To Earn Your SuperMom Wings

This morning I woke up with a sore throat and lots of disgusting congestion. I typically get one serious cold when the weather changes, so I suppose this is it. As I stirred in my bed, not wanting to get up and make the donuts today, I thought about how moms really don’t get a break when they don’t feel well. I can’t remember the last time I spent the day sick in bed. It’s been years. Why? Because it really isn’t permitted as a mother. There are still things to be done.

Here’s my Top 10 List of Ways To Earn Your SuperMom Wings   (David Letterman style…)

10. Go to Hersheypark, even though you hate petrifying rides, and sit through the Tap Dance show twice.

9. Sit in the freezing cold, on a Friday night, with seven blankets on you, and watch your son’s three-hour, never-ending, extra-innings baseball game.

8. Take your kids to Dave & Buster’s when you have a migraine headache.

7. Make your family a chicken dinner, one so elaborate that by the time you’re done making it, you want to eat something else entirely.

6. When you find a pair of underwear stuffed behind the couch in the basement for the twentieth time, smile and say, “Oh, those kids.”

5. Take your kids shopping at the Abercrombie store where you can’t hear them shouting to you from the dressing room because the pounding music is so loud.

4. Drive your kid back to school at 5:30 p.m. after you’ve just gotten home from work and beg the assistant principal to let him go to his locker to retrieve his eyeglasses.

3. Listen to your daughter’s incessant rambling about a hamster that she may never get when you cleverly wagered with her to earn straight As to have one.

2. Listen to your daughter’s incessant rambling about what you will name said hamster that she may never get when you cleverly wagered with her to earn straight As to have one.

1. Go to work, pick up kids, go the grocery store, pick up the dry cleaning, make dinner, help with homework, pay the bills, fill out school forms, and generally be in good spirits when you’re sick and all you want to do is crawl under the covers for a day of cheerful, fairy tale-ish, sentimental Hallmark movies.

The Truth About MOM FASHION

It’s not the most flattering photo of either of us, but here’s Stacy London and me at the Believe in Tomorrow fundraiser in Baltimore from a few years ago. She liked my dress.

Let’s get right to it. It’s time for a little truth. Today’s topic is MOM FASHION.

This is no joking matter. It’s imperative that if you are a mom, or know a mom, you pay close attention to the instructions I’m about to lay out for you. Free advice, coming to you right on this blog.

It’s time we had a little chat about fashion. I’ve held off for long enough, but I’m afraid the fashionista in me has been silent for too long. I need to roar. (Part of that could be because I’m a Leo, and we like to be heard).

Moms out there, listen up. Here are some fashion tips from a former fashion consultant (me):

#1: I must address the tennis skirt. We cannot wear the tennis skirt as a piece of general clothing. It’s a tennis skirt, for crying out loud. Let’s face it, there are only two places we should really wear the tennis skirt: (1) on the tennis court, or (2) maybe during some other form of exercise. The point is, those things were made for exercise, and were not made to be worn all over God’s creation as our general form of dress.

#2: For Heaven’s sake, if you’re going to the theatre, please DRESS UP. It hurts to see people attend shows at the Hippodrome, The Kennedy Center, or on Broadway in New York wearing cut off shorts and flip-flops. My friend Bari and I marveled at the inappropriate dress we witnessed a couple of weeks ago at an evening benefit performance by Kristin Chenoweth at the Hippodrome in Baltimore. It’s not casual night at the ballpark; it’s the THEATRE. I saw women in Orioles tees and shorts. No. No. No! Put on a dress and some heels or some snappy flats. Wear a cute skirt or slacks with a jazzy top. The theatre is worth getting dressed up for.

#3: Wear something nice to CHURCH. Do I need to say anything more? I understand that God probably doesn’t care what we wear to church, as long as we’re there, but he probably wouldn’t mind a bit if you wore something nice. Think about it this way: If you were having a dinner party and a woman showed up in short-shorts and no bra and a man showed up with no shirt on, wouldn’t you wonder about their decision-making capabilities and sincerity? God must be wondering what you’re up to when you’re in His House wearing something better suited for a tailgate party.

#4: Please consider dressing up for date night with your significant other. I’m not saying you have to wear a backless dress and 6-inch platforms (though your significant other might actually dig it), but I am saying that you might want to leave  the cropped pants and baggy, tent dress behind, and throw on something cute. Or sexy. Or voluptuous. Give it a whirl and see the reaction you get.

In “mom attire” out on my dad’s boat on the Chesapeake Bay. Windblown and a mess. You expected sequins?

#5: Think through what you might wear for Girls Night Out. It’s common knowledge in the fashion world that women dress for other women. It’s true. Women have a secret little competition going on between themselves and other women. Think about it: It’s other women who say, “Oh, I love that necklace,” or “Jeez, your shoes are hot!” It’s not the men. So on your next ladies night out, knock their socks off. Wear something that’s a conversation piece: the dress, the shoes, the jewelry, the hat, the sequined top…whatever it is, dress for the other women and see what they say.

Decked out on vacation for Date Night. I clean up good, right?

Moms, you know I love you. I’m a mom too. Just because we’re moms doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice style. Isn’t that what Stacy and Clinton have preached for years on “What Not To Wear”? Stacy London was my idol for years. She knows her stuff. Now, I admit that I don’t always wear the trendiest clothes when I’m running to the grocery store, a chore we’ve already established that I detest with passion. But you’ll never catch me in flip-flops and a “Birds Are #1” t-shirt at the Hippodrome.

That I would save for Camden Yards.