My name is Amber. I am 23 and married to my high school sweetheart. (Granted, I was in high school and he was, ahem, graduated when we started dating, but I still think it counts.) We married shortly after he returned home from his mission–in which we kept up a correspondence–and made sure to keep things busy from the beginning by having 2 kids within 14 months of each other (Emily, 2 1/2, and Andrew, 15 months). And we were both in school. Trial by fire? We’ve got that covered. As crazy as it can be, I would do it all over again in an instant and we both hope to add more to our brood in the coming years. Right now we hail from the great desert of Utah but will soon be relocating to the Midwest for the wonderful, new adventure of medical school (my husband, not me).
I am from Boise, originally, and came from a large family: I am the second of ten. I was–and am–probably the most motherly of our clan. As soon as I reached a mature age, I was taking care of the little ones as much as I could. I suppose my most positive attribute, then and now, was my ability to put work first. My mother often recounts stories of me cleaning up after both my sisters when we shared a room. Even as I grew older, I would try to complete my chores before reading my books or doing my homework unless my mother excused me from these duties.
As my parents had not considered college, they felt it pertinent that their children not follow in their footsteps and greatly encouraged us to prepare for college at a young age. I knew exactly where I wanted to go by the time I was in 4th grade: BYU. I accomplished this dream and graduated with a BS in Marriage, Family, and Human Development shortly before Andrew was born. Even though it was difficult being a student, mother, and wife I knew I needed to complete my education–no matter the sacrifice.
This attitude of perseverance has helped support me as I support Ben in his school and work aspirations. Though I know our road is a long one, I do believe that in the end it will be worth it if my husband is doing something he really loves.
1. What’s your favorite part of motherhood?
Waking up with daily affirmations that I am adored by my beautiful children when I hear these cries from their room: “Mommy! Mommmy!” Despite my many imperfections, Emily will inevitably give me her most dazzling smile even after I’ve muddled things up horribly. Andrew wants me to hold him constantly. He is my snuggly bug and I wouldn’t trade it for an instant. I suppose my favorite thing, then, is the sweet and tender love I have for my babies.
2. What part of motherhood would you subcontract out if you could?
This is a tough one. I’ll have to go with cooking. I would provide the menu if someone would cook it for me. I can even taste the delicious meals they would prepare: Fettucine Alfredo, Spinach Ravioli, Carne Asada tacos, a variety of Thai dishes. My mouth is watering as I type.
3. Name 2 or 3 items on your “bucket list.” (Some things you’d like to do before you die.)
I would like to continue on with my education by getting a Master’s degree in social work followed by a Ph.D in therapy. Then I would like to open a non-profit clinic and serve the needy populations: immigrants, minorities, and women. Finally, I would like to serve medical missions with my husband to different third-world countries.
4. Brag for a minute. Do it. What are a few things that you’re pretty good at?
I am very disciplined. For instance, at the beginning of the year I set a goal to exercise 3-5 days a week. Because of my husband’s very busy schedule, he is not home long enough for me to exercise without the children. So, I strap my children into our double jogging stroller and run with them. When the weather turned frigid and I couldn’t run outside anymore, I found something I could do inside: Workout programs on Netflix instant play. Depending on the day, I workout to them either when the kids are awake or when they are asleep. This allows me to keep my body fit and show my kids how fun exercise can be. My Emily often asks to do “Pilates” with me.
I am also good at changing my parenting methods when I see something isn’t going well. Though it requires patience and sacrifice, I try to cater my parenting to fit the needs of my kids rather than doing what is most convenient. Mind you, I am not perfect but I am more flexible than not.
5. What are you loving lately?
Listening to my kids’ laugh. Snuggling with my husband. Waking up to a clean kitchen. Folding and putting away laundry while watching a favorite movie. Listening to Stuff You Missed in History Class podcasts. Reading Love and Louis XIV by Antonia Fraser. Taking walks to the library (when the temperatures are above freezing) and bringing back new kid’s books to read to Emily.
6. Do you have a favorite scripture or quote? Why?
“Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life. May we recognize that each one is doing her best to deal with the challenges which come her way, and may we strive to do our best to help out.” President Thomas S. Monson, Relief Society broadcast in October.
I believe that as women, within in the church or without, have the ability to strengthen each other. Often, though, we resort to judging and criticizing others in areas in which we feel inadequate. I think about this quote often when I think about other women and mothers and try to apply it to my own thought patterns.
7. What do you gravitate toward during your unscheduled time?
What is this “unscheduled time” you speak of? Unscheduled time is a luxury that I do not have yet! But, that doesn’t mean I don’t do fun things during the day with the kids. Rather than stay cooped up inside the house, I try to take the kids on walks to the library. This provides me with a chance to check-out new books for me and the kids to enjoy, teaches them how joyful reading can be, and gives us time to enjoy nature while exercising (the library is a twenty minute walk from our apartment). Also, I enjoy watching documentaries while folding laundry. This way I am entertained while completing necessary chores.
8. Tell us some of your best mom-tricks (things you’ve figured out that work well for you).
Emily is two and very, very moody. When she hits her brother more or has frequent melt-downs, I try to think about what could be causing this and how I can ease her frustrations. Sometimes it can be hunger, exhaustion, or sickness. Other times it is a change in our routine or in our schedules. When Ben needed to pick up a second job, Emily became very very grumpy. It wasn’t until a week into his new schedule that I realized her grumpiness came from missing her daddy so much. Rather than reacting to her melt-downs, I would hold and comfort her so she knew I understood her pain.
9. What’s something you don’t usually want people to know about you, but that they need to know if they’re going to be your friend?
First, I am very socially conscious. I often take the perspective of someone who has grown up in different circumstances and with different values when engaging in a serious conversation. I am also very scientific in my conclusions so will poke holes in theories often postulated in the media. Many people find my beliefs “liberal” or “unconventional” but, as cliche as this sounds, I try my hardest to use Jesus as an example for how I think about issues.
Second, I laugh. A lot. Especially when I am uncomfortable. So if we do engage in a serious conversation, I will most likely insert quite a few self-deprecating jokes and laugh at things in a slightly awkward manner. In some ways, this can be very offensive to people. But I am not making fun of other’s opinions when I laugh, it is a nervous habit I’ve developed.
10. If you were in charge of a girls’ night out, what kind of activity would you love to plan?
Planning? Me? I prefer to attend activities that someone else has planned. Ha! So, I’ve never actually been on a “girls’ night out” and I feel very out-of-touch with this type of thing. I suppose good food and conversation would be a good start.
11. Friends are great for venting. What’s been frustrating you lately?
Having my husband work two jobs. There are so many days that I would love to have him home to chat about our kids and other little things from our day. Right now, when he finally gets home–very late–we are both too tired to do anything but conk out. It can be really lonely after an exhausting day! And I would love to have a little help when it comes to household chores. I spend at least 3 hours after the kids are in bed cleaning and folding laundry. This leaves very little time to do anything else.
12. What parts of your testimony are you the most sure of?
Emily’s favorite song is “I Love to See the Temple.” It has become a favorite of mine as well. After I had a recent miscarriage, I took comfort in listening to Emily sing this song over and over again. I know with all my heart that families can be together.
I also know that Heavenly Father cares for each and every one of us. No matter how simple our problems might seem he wants us to come unto Him.
Tell us about your blog:
I blog at Making the Moments Count. I write about my struggles with anxiety and depression; about my intense love for my husband and children; and occasionally about social issues. I also do a weekly meme in which readers are encouraged to write about their triumphs in parenting–whether in philosophy or in specific moments–during the week and link up so we can support and build each other. My main purpose is promoting a community of understanding and support in parenthood so that we can see how various methods work for different people and that there is not one particular way to parent children.
Thanks, Amber! Wasn’t that great? Next week, we’ll meet another new friend. Watch your email inbox; it might be you! If you want to get in on the fun, add a comment on this post. I’ll do a random selection from there every week.