Today is the first installment of my week-long series all about how our own upbringing shaped our identities as parents. (Here's my original post about it.) Stephanie from Adventures of an Artist, Wife, and Mom is my first interviewee -- she's the mom to 3-year-old Avery, wife to childhood-sweetheart Erik, and a totally inspiring cook, gardener, artist, and about a million other things. (You know, the kind of person you want to hate for being so amazing, but then you can't because she's too nice? That's Stephanie.) Read on to find out more about her and her reflections about her parents' influences on her parenting decisions...
I grew up with three siblings...2 younger brothers and 1 younger sister. We were born every other year, girl-boy-girl-boy. We lived in a big split level house, in a beautiful suburban neighborhood in Southwest Washington State. My dad was/is a high school teacher and a coach, and mom stayed at home with us. They still live in the same house, and my husband and I bought a house about 2 miles away a couple years ago.
How old were your parents when you were born? How old were you when you had your first child? Was your decision about when to have kids affected in any way by your parents' choices?
My parents started having kids at the ages of 25 (dad) and 26 (mom). They had been married for 5 years when I was born. Erik and I were 28 and 27 when Avery was born. We had been married for 5 years. My parents didn't really have anything to do with it...well maybe subconsciously they did. I actually didn't think I would ever have kids, but it became obvious to me when I was 26 that I desperately wanted a baby, and we started trying right away.
What are your plans (if any) about the number of children you hope to have? Is your decision about how many children you'll have affected in any way by your parents' choices?
I only want one. I think Erik would have a house-full. I never thought I would want children, which Erik was always fine with (or so he says). But he was very happy when we decided to have Avery. Every once in awhile he brings up having another one, but in three and a half years it has never even crossed my mind to have another so I can't imagine that changing. I don't know why I never wanted kids at first...I had the BEST childhood, but I grew up wanting to be writer and a painter and to travel the world, so maybe I didn't think I could do both. Who knows.
How does the place where you grew up impact your own decision-making about where to raise your family?
I had idyllic surroundings growing up: Beautiful neighborhood, great schools...we were close to Portland, we travelled to Seattle quite a bit, we went to the mountains to play in the snow, we went to the beach and played in the Pacific Ocean, we went camping and hiking...everything around us was beautiful. Erik grew up here as well and we love Washington. It really is the best place to raise a child (in our humble opinion).
How does your role as a disciplinarian reflect on your own upbringing?
Our daughter is only three, but I'd say I'm a little different from my parents. We use time outs, we take toys away and we don't spank. My parents did spank us on occasion, but mostly we were sent to our rooms or had privileges taken away.
Do you have any memories from your childhood of moments when you thought "I'll never be like this as a parent" or "I hope to be just like my mom because..."?
A couple things...
My parents are completely wonderful, and growing up they were always very involved with our schools, our activities and our friends. All my friends wanted to hang out at our house. My mom always worked in our classrooms, always went on field trips, she was always making cupcakes, or throwing the best birthday parties. Even in high school my friends always wanted to be at my house, even though my dad was one of our teachers. My parents never missed a soccer game, basketball game, track meet, choir concert or science fair. I want to be exactly like that.
We didn't, however, talk about our feelings very often. We never talked about things that were sad, or difficult things that we were going through. I held in a lot of emotions growing up, and I hope Avery always feels like she can talk to me about anything.
Now that you are a parent, do you find yourself acting more like (or less like) your own parents than you anticipated? How so? Are you at peace with the similarities/differences?
More like my parents. I'm more strict than I thought I'd be. I'm ok with it though, I mean, my siblings and I all turned out pretty well, and so far Avery is pretty great. : )
How has becoming a parent changed your relationship with your own parents?
I have always been really close to my parents, but I do have a new respect for what it must have been like to have four kids. It's completely unfathomable to me now that I have a child. I don't know how they did it, financially or mentally. But they made it work. All four of us would do anything for our parents and we are a very close family. It's a tribute to how we were raised, and how much we were loved. And how much my parents loved, and still love each other.
Thanks, Stephanie! Stop by her blog to see more of her darling family. And stop back here every day this week for interviews with other inspiring mothers. Next up: Amber!