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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mom of the Month - Hillary Fitzgerald!

Hillary Fitzgerald is our October Mom of the Month, 
and I'm so happy to say she's totally one of my favorites! 

This is the BEST Mom of the Month interview, you're going to soak up every word she wrote. Honest, she seems like an amazing mother. I'm sure she's reading this thinking, "I'm just a mom, nothing special," but in all of her words - from advice to ignore the high school type criticism from other moms to what helps her get through the day with 4 kiddos - she seems to have it all together. More importantly, it seems like she takes the chaos that may come with a big family and turns it into adventurous FUN! Who doesn't love that?! Great read! Thanks, Hillary, for sharing your life with us. 

All photos from Hillary Fitzgerald

1.Describe your child in 3-5 words.
Noah- athletic, sensitive, inquisitive, comical
Maddie- independent, feisty, creative, loving, outgoing
Benjamin- imaginative, particular, cuddly, shy
Ellie- vocal, independent, laid back (you have to be when you’re #4), sassy

2. When were your children born and where?
Noah- June 2, 2005 in York
Maddie- January 11, 2008 in York
Benjamin- June 15, 2010 in York
Ellie- December 13, 2011 in York

3. How would you describe your pregnancies?
I may have a lot of haters after I say this, but every pregnancy was easy.  Sure, I had all the typical pregnancy aches and pains, but that was pretty much it.  The thing that made me most uncomfortable was the heartburn.  It didn’t seem to matter what I ate or how long I waited to lay down after, it was always there.  With each kid it appeared much quicker.  Thankfully as soon as I delivered each, it was instantly gone.  Hello again to all the acidic things I loved to eat!

4. Describe yourself as a mom in 3-5 words.
Organized, patient, spontaneous and loving.

5. What type of mom do you hope your children think you were someday when they are old enough to tell you?

I hope each of them can look back and truly say they felt I was there for them. I want them to feel like they could talk to me, the good and the bad.  

I want them to feel like they didn’t have to miss out on opportunities because there were four of them and sometimes something has to give.  If something has to give, I’d rather it be something for me and not them. 

With that said, they do have to pick and choose extracurricular activities to do. I try and balance the strictness with fun and adventure, so I hope they can remember the fun me and all the adventures we go on! And of course I just want them to remember me as loving them (to infinity and beyond, as Noah says) with everything I possibly can!

6. What things have you done as a mom that you're most proud of?
Creating memories! Ask anyone around me and they’ll say I take pictures everywhere we go.  It can be the most mundane thing or even something we do on a weekly basis (playdates, swim lessons).  My picture taking may be on the verge of overkill!  But I want to capture as many memories for my kids as possible.  Sure they remember that we went apple picking a couple weeks ago, but how about when they’re 10, 20 and 30? 

After each birthday, I sit down and dedicate a few nights and create a photo book of their year; school, activities, time with friends and family, important milestones. The kids love to look through them, I love to look through them. 

I also love the bonds I’ve helped my kids form with each other.  

Yes, like any family, there are days when one can’t look at the other without giving the “death” stare, but they are also the first to go running if another is crying, hurt, sad. And with four, it’s great because if there is discord between two, they have a couple other options to turn to!! J

7. What have been the most difficult parts to being a mom?
Balance. To this day I’m still trying to find it and have come to terms with realizing I may never have it figured out.  With four kids, or really any mom for that matter, trying to find the perfect balance between kids, errands, chores, appointment and activities is a tireless job. 

At the end of the day, I hope that I can say I’ve spent some one-on-one time with each of the kids.  I am coming to realize that I don’t need to measure it based on time spent, but on what it is we’re doing.  

Noah loves to cuddle, Maddie loves to color, Ben wants to sword fight and Ellie just needs some love!  It isn’t always easy and it isn’t always done, but that’s my goal. 

8. What is your favorite baby product(s) that makes your mom job easier?
With each of the kids, it has been something different. 

With Noah, honestly, it was our dog.  I know it isn’t a “baby product,” but it was the best source of entertainment for him.  The dog never left his side, giving Noah ample time to play, explore and form a bond with Tucker.  Sounds crazy, but Tucker was the baby whisperer! 

As we added kids, it was important to find something that gave me a free hand.  A good swing, a baby carrier and over the last couple of years, a video monitor.  I don’t know how I lived without one for Noah and part of Maddie’s infant stage (she was the reason we first got one; she was a climber!). There is a camera in each of the kids rooms and one in the basement.  I can’t have eyes everywhere, but this is as close as it comes.  I can still make dinner, tell Ben not to throw a ball at Ellie, make sure Noah is doing his homework, all without having to leave the kitchen!  Amazing and keeps me somewhat sane! 

9. What advice about being a mom would you give to a brand new mother?
New moms have to listen to their gut.  I learned this early on.  I had so many people offering advice, and though it was appreciated, I didn’t want it!  It is so confusing to a new mom to take on this role and then add everyone else’s opinion on top of that.  What has worked for one person may not work for another person.  If you think there is a problem, if you’re concerned about something in particular, contact your Dr. And if your Dr. doesn’t seem on board with your concerns, go somewhere else.

And though it sounds so cliché, no question is stupid.  I’ve asked a lot of them and I’m ok with that. 

Don’t ever try and compare yourself to another mom.  The mom next door isn’t any better because she keeps her kids away from the tv or buys only organic foods.  You need to do what is best for you and your family and if a half-hour of tv is going to entertain the kids while you get something done and keep your sanity, then I think it’s well worth it.  

Being a mom sometimes feels like you’re in high school again, the criticism, the wanting to be accepted by other moms.  We’re all trying to survive day to day and whatever way you can accomplish that is the right way for you!  Surround yourself with a good group of friends who accept you for you and things will be easier.

10. What is a typical day like for you?
 I try and get up between 6 and 6:30, get myself ready and then start with the kids, lunches, snacks and breakfast. I am trying to be less like a short-order cook and make just one thing. 

Kids start getting up between 6:15 and 6:45. Noah and Maddie are on the bus a little after 8.  Depending on the day, we either head out to take Ben to school or swimming for Ben or Ellie. We’ll usually run some errands in the morning and get some time outside, home for lunch and nap.  Luckily, both Ben and Ellie still nap for a couple hours, which gives me time to either get stuff done around the house or even sit for a few minutes (I swear this two-hour period is what keeps me sane). 

Maddie and Noah get home about 4.  Afternoons consist of homework, reading, one day Maddie has gymnastics and another day she has swim.  Noah starts baseball in the fall so we’ll fit that in somewhere too.  Dinner, unfortunately, never gourmet but not often take out is around 5:30-6, followed by baths and in bed by 7:30 at the latest.  And once they’re in bed I’ll get things prepped for the next day and lay out clothes and get backpacks ready to start over again the next morning.

11. What is your favorite thing about motherhood?
I love just watching them grow and see how each of them can change in the blink of an eye.  Believe me, it’s sad that it is happening so quickly but it’s so great to see what they are becoming.  

You meet them when they’re born and instantly begin to wonder what he/she is going to be like, what they’ll look like, what they’ll love.  Thus far, each of them is so different from the others.  They have each carved out a niche for themselves in this family that has really given us as a whole a great family dynamic.

And I’ll be honest, the unconditional love they all give is the best feeling in the world.  I am the first to admit I am not always on my game and can sometimes lose patience too quickly.  Regardless, they can turn around in a heartbeat with the biggest hug and kiss that just melts your heart.  And it’s in those moments I need to remember to not focus so much on how the house looks, or what needs to be done and just really enjoy them.  Because like I said, it is all so fleeting and I know in an instant they’ll be out the door and on their own.

12. When did you really feel like a GREAT mom?

Any day when the kids are still in one piece, my hair hasn’t been pulled out, the kids have gotten everything done they needed and been where they needed to be, I’ve spent some one-on-one time with each and an edible meal is on the table is a WIN for me! 

It’s an added bonus if the unfolded laundry on the office couch is no longer a heap and is actually put away (rarely does this happen), though I realized it almost makes it easier to pick out the next day’s outfit if it’s easily accessible on the couch, so I think I’m really doing myself a favor by leaving it where it is.  Thank God for the wrinkle-release button on my dryer!

13. What does your family do for Halloween? What are your kids going to dress up as this year?
Halloween is not my favorite, but I try to make it as fun for the kids.  I’ll let them put out some decorations, though not too many, because then it takes forever to get them down when it lasts for just a day!  We try and do more fall decorations so they can stay up longer!  And the kids look forward to the yearly Halloween party with friends.

This year, we’ve nailed down costumes pretty early.  Usually we’re going back and forth until the last minute when I can order them online to still be here on time.  

Noah wants to be a vampire, Maddie is going to be a fairy, Ellie is going to be a flower (a hand-me-down from Maddie, poor thing may never have her own costume) and Ben is going to be a monkey, much to his dismay (also a hand-me-down from Noah).  Ben really fought for a ninja, but I’m really pushing for one more year of a babyish costume.  He’s just 3, still a baby to me and I just can’t get over putting him in something that isn’t plush and cuddly…I know, I’m gonna have to get over that soon! I am promising now to all you moms that next year Ben can pick out anything he wants to be, no input from me! 


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