The Motherhood in Motion series is a very special collaboration with ALN Images.
This year has required a lot of change in countless ways. Like many of us, Aidanora was faced with the jigsaw puzzle of bringing her full-time career home, the logistics of what that meant for three school-aged children, and creating a new rhythm for her family. She sat down with us and opened up about what this chapter of life has made her realize about her relationships, how she’s creating her own work-life balance, and what she did to keep her second grader thriving through his school year.
How are you, really?
I think I’m better than I ever thought because of the support I have around me. It’s funny because even in a time when we have to be separated, it’s brought some unity because we’re all going through the same thing. So that’s kept me going – having that community. Everybody is struggling in every aspect. At work, since we’re doing Zoom calls, we’re in touch with each other more than we ever were before in the office. Even the parents in our community, we’re just reaching out more by text or email to keep up with everything. Even people I don’t regularly see – I think this made me realize how important they are. Pre-Covid, we were so busy and it was
always go, go, go. Like, oh I’ll get to it – I’ll call. But now I’ve realized these relationships and friendships are so important to me so I take the time now to reach out and make the effort.
Did you know you always wanted to be a mom?
Yeah, I always knew I wanted to be a mom. I got pregnant right after my husband and I got married so we didn’t waste any time. I had my son and daughter, and then we were sort of on the fence about adding another. That was right around the time I got my full time job that I’m currently working. Before then, I was just part time and before I took that position my husband and I discussed a third and I said “Okay, if I take this job, we’re not having another. I can’t work and have a baby.” Surprisingly, the day before I started my job I found out I was pregnant. Thankfully it all worked out and my company is a big advocate for families. I came from a family of three girls so I always liked that feeling of having three kids. It just felt complete for me.
Did your own childhood shape the way you show up in motherhood?
My family is really united. My two sisters live in the area and my parents live about 5 miles up the street from us. And we’re all just a very united family. I think I’ve emulated that into my own family with my kids. We get together with the cousins and everything and are very family-oriented. I think that’s something I’ve carried on with my own kids.
How has this past year changed for your family?
I have three kids, an eight year old boy, a daughter who’s about to turn 6, and my youngest is 4. Before Covid, I was commuting about an hour each day. There was no flexibility, no work from home option. So, you know, we had a nanny and I was always juggling everything with the kids and their schedules. The one good thing that came from this year is that we’ve become work-from-home and we’re going to stay that way now. For me, that’s changed everything. It’s been a game changer because it’s allowed me to do both, happily. To be home and see my kids more but to also work. Before, there were always moments that I wondered, ‘Is this even worth it?” I was missing out on so much but at the same time I liked my job. I like what I do, so now I don’t feel like I have to choose. My company was very strict about not working from home – it just wasn’t the culture. But now they see that productivity is still happening.
My two youngest go to a preschool that goes up to Kindergarten. Thankfully, they stayed in-person. But my oldest is in second grade. And when they went virtual in the spring, we didn’t have a great experience with it. So when they announced in the summer they’d be staying virtual we decided to pull him out of the public school system and we’re doing a homeschool pod. We have a tutor that we’ve hired and she does class with them through the week.
There’s a group of four kids, all second graders, and we rotate houses. So half the day they’re doing that. It’s been great because on the days I don’t host, he has a little school we’ve created and he has some normalcy. We’ve brought in an art teacher, and a music teacher – I think we’ve really pulled from our community to try to make a year where they don’t feel it as much as they would have if they’d been virtual. It’s been a lot of work and a lot of coordination and they’ll all go back to school in the Fall but it’s been really great for us.
You start off with a clean slate, right? Because at first during the pandemic you could do nothing. And then from there you’re choosing what to add back on. I think we’re being purposeful about what we’re choosing to get back into. For instance, our kids are back into sports full swing now. Before I was kind of like, “Eh, we need to get everyone signed up and schedules figured out.” But now, we’re happy to go because we didn’t have that for a while and we realized the importance of it and how much they get out of it. Being more mindful of everything you’re doing and making sure it’s something you really want to do; not adding anything anymore that you don’t get anything out of or maybe felt obligated to do. That’s definitely how we are now. And it’s also strengthened our relationship with those other families. Obviously, through this, we’ve decided to all follow the same protocols and you have to put trust in them, as well.
What do you find to be the most beautiful part of motherhood?
I’m probably going to get emotional. I think just getting to see my children grow and become these amazing people and knowing I had some small part in that – it’s the best thing. I can’t talk about my kids without getting emotional. I mean, they just amaze me everyday. Their sentiments, their view on the world. Just watching them evolve. We just had my son’s communion and I stepped in and I remembered his baptism. You just see this evolution – that’s the best part.
What do you feel is the hardest part about motherhood?
Not knowing the choices you’re making are the best for them. Even this past year, deciding to pull my son out, I was like, is this the best thing? You just question all the decisions you’re making because you just never really know.
What is the best part of your day?
Probably at night once the kids are in bed. That’s the time I get with my husband to really talk and not be parents, just be ourselves. And you know, you’ve gotten through the day and can kind of reset. So, I like my nighttimes.
What’s been your favorite age to mother, so far?
They all have their perks. I love babies – I love the baby phase. They’re just so cuddly. But as they grow there are just such great parts of all of them because now you can have discussions with them and they have opinions. I think as we go, it all becomes my favorite age.
Do you feel a struggle to maintain your own identity in motherhood?
Yeah, definitely. I think I always try to make a point to focus on myself but it’s hard, right? Because life gets in the way. But I always try to keep things that are mine. I’m also a yoga instructor and since having kids, it hasn’t been as consistent but it’s always my space to go back to where I can just be me. I remember one time, the kids were doing something and I got mad and one of them said “Mama, I think you need to go on your yoga mat.” So, they even recognize that that’s my time. And maintaining friendships with other moms and friends that I had prior to kids is important to me. During Covid we would do virtual book clubs or just chat and I think a lot of times there’s therapy in that. That keeps me sane.
Has motherhood revealed any passions you didn’t know you had?
Yeah, I would say. I would do anything for my kids and to see them happy so their birthdays, for example, have evolved into this whole thing that I do for them because I want it to be special. So I’ve become really good at balloon garlands, creating themed things. I have these skill sets now that I probably would have never mastered. You know, because in the midst of motherhood you’re like oh, I can make that!
How has work changed for you with having the transition from mom-mode to work-mode gone?
I think the line has definitely been blurrier. A lot of times my work days are longer with a lot more breaks in between. I wake up very early and will go ahead and hop on and answer some emails before I’m supposed to be “on” and then that goes into the night, too. The other night I was answering an email at like 10:30 and I had a colleague respond and say “I didn’t think you’d be on at this time!” and I laughed because she was also on at that time. I get flexibility to spend time with my kids through the day now, like going and having a picnic. But then, you know, I’m staying at my desk later in the day for it. I think it’s just a double edged sword you always have to balance.
What do you feel like is the most frustrating part about your days?
Just not getting breaks. Before, I worked outside of the house so during lunch I could go run and grab something by myself. Especially at the beginning, where we weren’t even seeing family. I mentioned that my parents live right up the street and we’re really close and my sisters are close and we couldn’t even see them. There was no escape. That has definitely been hard.
But you and your sister created something fun! Tell us about Chickens at Lunch!
Yes! My younger sister and I – we’d always talked about doing a podcast but we weren’t ready to buy the equipment so we set up an Instagram account. We’ve been doing once-a-month, sometimes more, IGTVs where we sit for 10 or 15 minutes and talk. We talk about different things like stress but also silly things like testing different kinds of chicken sandwiches. It’s just been something fun to fill a creative outlet and to be able to do with my sister. We’ve wanted to do this, but because of Covid we’ve been given the time to do it. It’s been fun and we’ve had fun feedback. We don’t know yet what we want for this. If it grew organically, that would be great, but it’s just really fun to do together.
What has being a mother taught you about yourself?
Probably that I’m just stronger than I thought that I could be. A lot of times you just don’t have a choice and you have to get up and keep going no matter what’s going on, like a pandemic. But the kids are still there and they still need you. You just have to get through it. So, definitely strength.
What do you want your kids to remember about their childhoods once they’ve grown?
I hope they feel like they came from a happy, loving, home with great memories. I want them to be as carefree as they can be, for as long as they can be. Just knowing they came from a loving home and sharing that with others. Sharing that kindness and that they’re the good people in society.
You can follow along with Aidanora and her sister, Stephanie at Chickens at Lunch on Instagram!
Thank you, Alli, for the beautiful photography.