I DECIDED TO CREATE MOMUMENTAL MOTHERS TO CELEBRATE WOMEN FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE. EACH OF THE WOMEN I WILL FEATURE ARE DIFFERENT, BUT THEY ARE ALL UNITED IN MOTHERHOOD.
Today it is my pleasure to interview Analena.
When I read an e-mail from a reader named Analena, I knew right away that I wanted to interview her. She is a wise and down-to-Earth woman! I am happy that I can introduce her to you.
Analena, can you tell my readers a bit about yourself?
My name is Analena, but most people call me Ana. I live in California. I am from Prague in the Czech Republic originally. I am 39 years old. I am married to Filip and am the mother of two daughters, Ester and Agata.
I am an artist and I work in a school. My husband works in construction and also works some nights at a grocery store.
How old are your children?
In December, my oldest daughter will be ten years old and my youngest will be seven years old in January.
What do you feel is your biggest struggle as a parent?
It’s very difficult to be able to work more than one job and collectively make enough money to make ends meet, take care of my children, take care of my home, and also to have time for myself. I also think it is a reality that life for mothers can be lonely, even when you are surrounded by your children and family.
Very often my needs get placed at the bottom of the list and considered less important because money is tight, the kids need attention, and I try to take a big load off of my husband since he works a lot- and very hard- to make sure we have what we need. I must make an effort to have time for myself because without it I can feel wrung out, sad, and tired. When that happens the whole family suffers.
Do you think it is possible for women to truly have it all?
I think that is a very American concept. My mother took care of our family and took in washing to make money. It was hard growing up hand-to-mouth, but really it was that way for my mother, my grandmother, and her mother before. I did not know anything different until Filip and I came to this country.
I would like to be able to give my children a life where they can pursue their interests, have a family if they wish, and more importantly have an education. I would like them to be able to “have it all,” as they say, but I don’t think that is possible for everyone.
What is your normal day like?
I get out of bed 5:45 a.m. to get our coffee ready. I make breakfast and make sure everyone has eaten before I take the kids off at school. Then I go to work until 4:30 p.m. The girls go to an after school program until I pick them up.
My husband will come home at around 6:00 p.m. and have dinner. On the nights that he works, he will eat and lay on the couch for an hour before leaving again.
I will try to help the girls with homework and read to them before they shower and go to bed. If I am lucky I can draw or paint but lately, I am often so tired that I go to bed too.
Do you have any tips or tricks to help make bedtime or mornings before school run smoother?
I try to make sure that the kids stick to a bedtime schedule. When they don’t they can be very grumpy and have a hard time the next day. Each night before bed I check that their school work is done and their bags are by the door, ready for the morning.
I bought them each a six-drawer plastic container so that they have an outfit all picked out for each school day in the day’s drawer, plus a drawer they can keep their shoes in so we don’t have any searching for a missing shoe. I saw the idea on Pinterest and it has been very helpful so far, although I’m sure once the girls are older they will want to change outfits ten times each morning.
What do you think your parents did when you were growing up that helped you be a responsible and successful adult? What do you wish your parents would have taught you or given you that they didn’t?
My father was a factory worker and my mother stayed at home and washed other people’s laundry. They both expected my sister and me to help Mama with cooking and cleaning. They were hard-working people and expected the same from us. We expected to do things correctly in the beginning and not make excuses or waste time.
I wish that they would have allowed me to spend more time on my education, but I understand why it was not a huge priority. It never had been a priority for their parents, probably not even a thought. However, I make sure my daughters know that they are to work hard, get good marks in school, and go on to university or a good vocation. I don’t want them to have to struggle.
How do you handle everyday stressors?
I have to keep my home organized or I will go crazy. I am very particular. I try to take walks when I need to, which helps me relax. I also smoke, which I know is an ugly habit but it is a hard one to break. I also try to anticipate what we need or what activities to expect so that we can be prepared; doing things at the last minute is very stressful for me.
Do you have any advice for new mothers?
I hated it when people would tell me, but enjoy your babies when they are little. They do grow up so quickly. Let the dishes sit in the sink and hold them. I was too concerned with making sure my house was neat, that meals were ready on time – I wish now that I had let go of that mentality and spent more time cuddling them or playing with them. Now my oldest is at the age where she doesn’t always want to cuddle Mom and I miss the baby stage.
I would also tell new mothers that it is OK to not be OK. They don’t have to be making sure everything is perfect. They don’t need to put on a brave face when they are really falling apart inside. Having little ones is difficult and hormones, lack of sleep, doing too much too soon – all of that can really take its toll. Ask for help if you need it. No one will judge you harshly for admitting that you need help and if they do they are probably not anyone you need to surround yourself with anyway.
Thank you, Analena!