Let me introduce to you mama Jennifer today. Her good friend Leah emailed me and nominated her to be a part of the blog. She described Jennifer as a mom that was doing it all with three little ones, all while her husband was gone on 24-hour shifts, and sometimes three days straight. She runs the show most days, drives the kids to school and daycare, and works a 40-hour week.
Read her story, and how she manages to do it all.
It’ll be nine years in June that I’ve been married to Aaron, my best friend, and my soulmate. Aaron and I met at my office. He was referred to me to refinance his Home Loan. The moment I met him I knew he was “The One.” It was an unspoken feeling, sparks that we both felt. I turned to my Manager after our first meeting and said, “I’m going to Marry Him.” Little did I know he told his family the same thing that very same day.
Aaron was working as a Paramedic when we first met and after we married he was hired by a local Fire Department as a Firefighter. He currently works as a FireFighter/Engineer for his Department. His schedule is definitely not your conventional 9-5pm. Aaron works 24-hour shifts at a time, and it is not uncommon for him to work 3 or 4 days straight. He literally sleeps at the station. During major fires, Aaron has been gone for up to 2 weeks straight. He doesn’t have every weekend or major holiday off, but we pretty much know his schedule a year in advance. That is unless he gets mandated to work on a day he was supposed to have off. Lately, that happens a lot, but we just roll with it. If he’s scheduled to work a major holiday we’ve learned to celebrate holidays on his days off or I pack up our girls, and we celebrate with our 2nd Family at the Station, his Fire crew.
I’ve been a Mortgage Consultant for the past 14 years. I literally help clients with their largest, most stressful purchase, their home loan. I work an average of 50 hours a week. I accept client calls after hours and on the weekends, and I am always reading and responding to work emails on my phone or laptop. When I take vacations, I always bring my work laptop. I love my job, but I also wish I could literally go MIA for two weeks without having a million calls and emails to respond to. I struggle with the balance of Family and Work, but I do my best to try to put my Family first. Work Hard, Play Harder is my motto.
We have three beautiful girls. Hailey is 5 (turning six next month), Sadie is 2 1/2 and Scarlett recently turned 1.
Hailey is in Kindergarten. She is so smart, kind, helpful, but she’s also very sensitive. Her teenage years will definitely be a challenge! I appreciate her so much, and I make sure that I tell her that every day. She helps keep me sane on the days Aaron is gone.
Sadie is definitely in her terrible 2’s. She whines a lot, throws tantrums, she wants to do everything herself, screams as I’m making her breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Our neighbors probably think we’re starving this child! But Sadie is also the sweetest child ever. She dances to the beat of her own drum; she’s super silly, and I cannot imagine life without her. She’s had a lot of health issues since birth. Lung, Sinus, Speech, Hearing, etc. She’s pretty much always sick! We still have lots of unanswered questions, but she sees a Pulmonary Specialist regularly, and we’re just hoping that it’s something she’ll eventually grow out of.
Scarlett is so stinking cute it kills me! She just officially started walking (she’s been walking for months, but she prefers us to hold her). I think it’s because she wants our attention. Who can blame her, right?! She’s the baby, and she has two older sisters. I recently stopped nursing Scarlett, and it’s been the hardest thing ever. I really miss our bonding time!
I’d be lying if I said to have three under the age of 5 is easy! The truth is it’s hard. It’s hard being a single Mom 50% of the time. My Family does not live nearby, and Aaron’s Family have busy lives of their own, but would help if they could. My husband is super helpful when he’s home, but when he’s not, it’s just me. It’s hard to have a job that requires so much of my time. I wake up at 5am to get three girls dressed, fed, myself ready and out the door by 7:45am. I have three drop offs before I get to work. After work I have 2 pickups then its home to make dinner, clean out lunch boxes, do the dishes, pack lunches for the next day, give baths, help with homework, read stories, tuck them into bed, clean up around the house, do laundry, eat my dinner and on some nights I work for another hour or more.
Our life is busy, hectic even, but it’s always exciting! When Aaron is off we always have something planned. I try so hard to be the best wife and mother, but honestly I feel like I’m missing out on so much, and it’s hard to give truly 100% in both family & work. I feel like when I’m at work I should be with my Family, and when I’m with my Family, I should be working.
The Mother Effin Truth is that I love my Family more than anything. And as hard as it is now with 3 young girls under the age of 5 I know that eventually they’ll get older, more independent and won’t want to be with us 100% of the time. I cherish the moments, good and bad and try to learn from them. I’ve learned how to be more patient, and I’m always thinking of new ways to teach them valuable lessons. I’m not perfect, and I don’t want to be.
As long as my children are happy, healthy, honest and respectful I’ll feel like I’ve done my job as a Mom.
I miss snuggling with him. I also miss talking to him. Our schedules are both so hectic during the week that I rarely have time to talk to him when he’s at work and when we do talk it’s short.
Be honest, what part of the day do you dread?
I dread coming home from work with Aaron’s working. It’s pure chaos from the moment I pick up the girls to when I lay them down for bed. Hailey generally has about an hour of homework which includes writing, math and tons of reading. I don’t get quality time with them until baths are over so I try to get everything done as quickly as possible. Imagine feeding three girls, helping with homework, reading, giving baths and spending quality time with three crazy girls in under 2 hours. It’s a whirlwind.
What’s the hardest part about being a firemen’s wife?
The Fireman schedule is definitely an adjustment. Luckily, I’ve always been pretty independent, and I just roll with the punches, but it’s tough nonetheless. I have to be understanding when he comes home exhausted because he didn’t sleep the night before due to running calls or working on a Fire. I have to be understanding when he gets mandated to work on a day we have plans. I’ve seen him come home exhausted and ripped apart from a terrible call he’d ran on. It’s sometimes hard to put myself in his shoes, but I can read him pretty well, and I know when he’s been through a rough night. Our strong bond gets us through it all. When he needs to rest, I let him rest. When he’s in a bad mood, I let him be. He can pull himself out a funk pretty quickly when I kill him with kindness, and it’s just not worth the argument. We’re both pretty selfless people and would do absolutely anything for one another. I consider myself pretty lucky have found Aaron. He’s such a great father, husband, and he’s my best friend. He’s got my back, and I’ve got his. His job makes our life tough, but it also allows us to spend a lot of quality time together.
With not a lot of help and family not available all the time, what do you do to find help with your three children?
I hate asking for help, but when it’s an emergency My Mom and His Parents are always willing to help. They may not always be available to help, but they know we only ask when we’ve exhausted all options, so they try their best to help when their Grandma or Grandpa duties are needed. I’ve also been blessed to have met a great Family on our street. The two daughters are 12 and 15, and their Mom loves to teach them valuable life lessons. Occasionally, when they notice Aaron’s truck gone for days at a time, she’ll send her girls over to help with my girls after school. They’ll help bathe them and read them stories. I’m still there doing my usual Mom duties, but I’m outnumbered! They are the absolute sweetest girls and I truly appreciate the kind gesture once in a while. Besides that, most of the time it’s just me, and I make it work. If I need to leave early to pick them up from school when they’re sick I’ll move appointments around and will work late through the night to catch up. I can work home when needed. It definitely makes my work more challenging, but I’m a Mama Bear, and I’ll do anything for my little cubs.
A lot! One was challenging because I was a new Mom, and every new Mom has the same fear of screwing up. You watch what you consume to the T when you’re pregnant, you sanitize absolutely everything, let’s face it if you could bubble wrap your first child you would. All of that went out the window once I had baby #2. It was challenging enough to balance between work, two young kids, a Fireman’s schedule and I just didn’t have time to sweat the small stuff. When baby #3 arrived our life completely changed! We even had to buy a new car because we couldn’t fit three car seats in the car we had. We are outnumbered by three little midgets who love to cry, poop and scream for our attention. It’s impossible to give all three the same amount of attention. No matter how hard I try, it is literally impossible. That is one of the biggest struggles I face as a Mom of 3. I never want my girls ever to think I favor one over the other. I love all 3 of them, individually, unconditionally, equally.
Now that you have told the Mother Effin Truth, who do you want to nominate to tell their story as a mother? And why?
I would like to nominate Kristen Gist. She recently had twin boys! Yes, you heard me right, twins boys! She is a mother to four, two girls, and two twin boys. She had her first baby when she was 21 and the last three within the past three years with her husband, Ronnie. She found out she was pregnant with twins during her last year of nursing school, and it was definitely a huge shocker! I’m pretty sure she cried when she told me. She literally gave birth to them right after she took her nursing finals and board exam. She is an excellent Mom, and I cannot wait for you to hear her story and struggles of raising her first baby as a single Mom, meeting Ronnie, then having three more babies back to back.