The “Over and Out” Mom
Johanna Earl is the mom of two children; Pia 8 and George 5
She’s done guys. She’s paid her dues and now she kinda sees the light at the end of the tunnel. She has two perfect children—a boy and a girl, and they’re old enough to wipe their own butts. She is over the newborn and baby stage but sometimes still sounds miserable. She has a relief-ness about her that comes only from knowing she won’t have to do it again. I’m jealous of her to a certain degree and she rubs it in my face.
Here is our Q + A:
Q: You’re done. You’re not done raising them but you’re doing having children. How does that make you feel?
J: I’m done producing kids.
A: You’re never going to have a newborn again. How does that make you feel? Like it’s cool, because I want one more so I know I have one more to go, but you’re done.
J: I mean I’m super happy and I think it’s super cool. But now that you’re telling me the thing about the newborn…sometimes I do miss it but ni loca… I’m more independent now. A little more, not completely. I feel that that phase is already over.
A: You’re starting your new life.
J: Not really, because I feel like I still have a long way. Maybe I feel like I’m more independent–I have more freedom in that I don’t have to be paying attention to them all the time wondering what they’re doing. I’m free, but it’s a short freedom. I still have those teenage years that they say is awful. I’m scared. But I feel a big relief in that, like if I go to the beach I don’t have to be worrying about taking down the diapers or making their food.
Q: Did you breastfeed any of your kids?
J: No. And I hated It.
A: Ok but how long did you actually do it? Because you did it for a little…
J: Pia for one month and Georgie 2 weeks.
A: Why didn’t you do it longer?
J: With Georgie because I knew how horrible it was and I hated it. I effing hated It. I felt like I smelled like cheese in the morning and I felt trapped. I don’t know I just didn’t like it. I hated it.
A: Did people try and make you feel bad because you didn’t breastfeed?
J: Ehhh…I didn’t care.
A: Did they try to pressure you in the hospital to breastfeed?
J: Maybe one of the first nurses with Pia…like the lactation consultants…because I wanted to know. I was clueless I didn’t know anything. And I remember her telling me “you have to give her your boob whenever she cries” and I was like what??? because it’s on demand. That’s why I started crying in the hospital. Because I knew what was coming and I was scared.
(South Miami Hospital, while amazing, is also a “breast feeding” hospital. They really do try to convince you to breastfeed your baby above all else. My personal experience when I had Santi was awful because the day I decided I didn’t want to do it, I felt a lot of pressure from nurses. They practice the “breast is best” approach and I disagree wholeheartedly.)
Q: Ok–you had c-sections. How was your experience with that? Did you wish you could have done vaginal? (Pia was breach and Joha didn’t have a choice)
J: I’m not a good example because I did really well with my c-sections. I was like… the next morning kneeling down, grabbing Pia. I was perfect.
A: And with Georgie?
J: Was It painful? Yeah, but you take a Percocet and you’re perfect.
A: Ha! Perks of not breastfeeding! You can take a Percocet. Ok but what about Georgie? Because now you had an infant and a toddler…
J: I was fine.
A: So you didn’t have any of the weird things I had, like peeing with a squirt bottle or burning sensation…
J: No I was perfect down there. (She gave me a mischievous smile because she knows she had it better than me).
A: Were you excited then for the end of the Cuarentena? (This is when you’re 40 days postpartum and you can have sex again)
A: Was George?
J: I’m sure he was…
Q: How was the shift from 1 to 2?
J: Horrible. There are people that think it’s great but I think it was awful. The thing is that Pia was a super easy baby. I don’t know if it’s that I was just more tired with the second. I realized that I didn’t have any more time for myself.
A: Or like you can tag team. Because where there is just one, you can say “Oh George, take care of Pia so I can take a nap” or whatever. But when there are two children, you can’t do that because one is always around. (George is Joha’s husband)
J: And remember sometimes George isn’t around. Now it isn’t that bad…now it’s annoying because they fight but when they were little in person with Pia and Georgie… I remember when Georgie was born being at home and me feeding him and Pia jumping up and down bored and me thinking “what am I going to do?” And the shock of going back to diapers and starting that all over again. I remember it would take me forever to get to the car to get ready and go out. For me there is a big difference. Some people may not agree.
A: No, it’s the worst. The absolute worse. At least you had it easier because Pia was bigger. Santi was 23 months he had no idea what the hell was going on.
J: I don’t know how you did it. I also never had the option. I had some help but it wasn’t like I could leave her alone to go do my nails. It was actually “the plan”to go out and take Pia to the supermarket. Now it’s a nightmare.
Joha then went indo depth about the “fights” their kids have. Inevitably I’ll be going through the same things. She feels what she’s going through is the worst. It sounds like a vacation compared to temper tantrus and diaper blowouts. Time will tell.
Q: Who was an easier baby?
J: Pia..pfff by far! In every sense. Easy with her sleeping habits, eating, to stay in any place. Super easy to make friends, independent. Georgie was the complete opposite. He didn’t sleep well, difficult to eat, hard to make friends, he doesn’t like to stay alone. (He sounds lovely)
Q: Did you always know you would have only two, or did it just happen because having kids is A LOT?
J: Before having Pia I wanted 4. Then I had Pia and I wanted 3. Then I had Georgie and I was like, that’s it.
A: What did George want?
J: I don’t know. I don’t think we talked about it was just very obvious that we weren’t going to have another one. It wasn’t going to work out.
Q: Ok, as a mom of two children, what’s worse though: the newborn stage, baby stage, toddler stage or the stage you’re currently in?
J: I don’t want to say the worse, but mentally challenging is the one I’m in.
A: Ok, but do you think it’s because you’re living it, or because it’s the actual worst? Because you forget–I spoke about this with my mom. We tend to forget about the sleepless nights, etc…
J: No, I’m being conscious about my answer. Mentally this has been the worst…not worst but most challenging. Physically obviously when they’re newborns. I was reventada. The first two weeks are not bad because you’re full of energy.
A: The first three months are so hard because you don’t know them that well, las mañas that they can have… you’re still getting to know them. I remember Christmas Day, Joaquin was born on December 12th…I don’t know how I survived that day. Because I had to wake up and be a mom to Santi and give him his presents, and Joaquin estaba que jodia, no dormia, se orinaba… ugh.
Q: As a working mom, how do you balance it all? For reference, Johanna is the Preschool Director. Her children have always gone to school where she works so it’s been easy, but for the last year, Pia has been going to an Elementary School. Georgie, luckily, still goes to the school where she works.
J: I feel that it’s extremely hard. I don’t know if frustrating is the word. I’m not a CEO of a huge corporation but my job also isn’t just being a teacher. It’s taken me a while to balance many things. The first thing it really takes time of my day. I have to be presentable every day. I can’t just come with my hair in a pony tail and ready to work. No, I have to make an effort to have my hair done, my makeup done, my nails done.
A: (Please note that the entire time she’s saying presentable she’s using air quotes)
J: And it’s stuff that I’m thinking about. Even how I look physically. I may not do it, but I think about it. And more than anything it’s not easy to find the time to do this. I have to organize myself and either, for example, get my nails done on the weekend or bring Georgie with me after work. I can’t come home, leave the kids and say “Lupita, ya vengo me voy hacer las uñas!”
A: Yeah, I get it.
J: And then, when I get home from work at 4, it’s the full time job of being a mom. I can’t say I’m tired, i want to relax. After having worked 8 hours, i have to come home and have the mentality of, “ok, what’s for dinner? Has Pia done her homework?” That’s why for me this stage has been worse. Before she would get home and play. Now, it’s homework, she needs to study, I worry about her not doing well…I also have to be on top of her because it’s not like she does her homework alone, Georgie is bored, he wants a snack…It’s 4:30…at 7:00 we eat, I forgot to leave food out to cook, what can I invent, Pia has soccer at 6:00…it’s very demanding…. I don’t know why I’m responding this way (she said with a laugh).
A: Because I asked you how you balance it all!
J: I don’t even know if it’s balanced. It feels very unbalanced.
A: Well you seem to have it put together. I think you have a benefit that, maybe not so much now, but before your kids have always gone to school where you work.
J: Yes, that’s a huge blessing. And I also promised myself I wasn’t going to be so hard on myself with the whole dinner thing. There is no such thing as a perfect woman—she doesn’t exist. That’s my point of view. A woman who works 8 hours, goes home, goes to the gym, makes dinner, helps her kids with her homework and is ready for when her husband comes home. No existe.
A: Well, and if she exists she must be unhappy! If she exists she’s an idiot.
J: I want her to come here and present herself to me…She doesn’t exist. George has been amazing in helping me out. Whipping up dinner if I don’t have time. So it’s been a little easier.
A: Does George not care? Because Santiago is super weird and on top of my children’s breakfast lunch and dinner. Like he called me today to make sure I had left instructions for Santi’s lunch…like just shut up.
J: For me it’s no longer torture that it’s 6:00 and I haven’t made dinner. George is OK with it too because he realizes that I work as much as he does.
Q: Ok, you were very vocal, as I have been, about wanting only daughters. Tell me about your experience as a mom of a boy.
A: You wanted George to be a girl…and I wanted Santi and Joaquin to be girls.My reality of having boys is different because I have two boys. I don’t have anything to compare it with because my life is blue, everything is blue. But you have a daughter too.
J: Someone told me this once…I think George is what I would have been, had I been a boy. He is the masculine version of me. I was born female, and I’m a woman, and I think Georgie is what I would have been… It’s a blessing for sure to have the opportunity to be a mom to a boy and a girl because you can compare…We are super different (boys and girls), like polar opposites. Also, I was born into a family with only girls…I didn’t know anything about boys.
A: Ok, but remember when you were pregnant and you found out he was a boy? You literally didn’t want a boy you wanted a girl.
J: Yeah…but I realize now that the dynamic between mother and daughter and mother and son is very, very different. With Pia…she’s also the oldest, but I’m always making sure she’s doing the right thing…but the dynamic is different because he’s more cariñoso with me, he’s very on top of me..like if we are getting groceries off of the car he’ll ask me if I need help. For him, it comes out naturally.
Q: Do you think you’re a cool mom?
J: I can be a cool mom. I don’t necessarily think I’m a cool mom with them. I’m very strict.
A: Well it can’t be a free for all either. There has to be some level of strictness.
J: Yes. I consider myself still young. All my friends that are my age and have kids also feel super young.
A: Well because you don’t really think of yourself as getting older until one day you wake up and you’re old.
J: Yeah, but I am older than you.
A: Ok, you’re only like 8 years older than me but we are the same. I’m a little more of a joke than you, but like we’re the same!
J: I’m glad to hear it! I don’t think it’s the word I would use to describe myself. Do you see yourself as a cool mom?
J: For me, a cool mom is..like i don’t think I’m a cool mom with them. I think I’m a laidback mom. I let them do things, I want them to be independent…
A: That’s a cool mom…no one wants an annoying mom.