February's Honest Parent: Heidi Hollins
My greatest parenting strength is: I run this show solo. I’m a single mom. The father is not in the picture so I play that role as well. I don’t dump my son off at grandparents’ house because well, they are 4 hours away but even still – I couldn’t do that.
My greatest parenting weakness is: I don’t give myself enough “me time.” I know that I could if I tried harder. I also know that it would only make my life AND his life easier. I have become too comfortable with our day-to-day routine.
When it comes to parenting, I would rather not admit that:I tell lies to my child all the time. “The store is closed because too many toys were purchased and they need to restock;” “We can’t go to zoo lights because the lights broke (make noise of power going out);” “We can’t watch that movie because it’s broken.” There it is. Out in the open. I do it all the time.
When it comes to parenting, _________ is overrated. Play dough. I can’t stand it. It ends up everywhere and it hardens into the carpet.
What have you learned about yourself specifically because you became a parent?
That I really am stubborn. Before I had a child, my friends and family would tell me all the time. It’s all true. I even argue with my four year old. Having a child has made me even more stubborn. I feel that I need to be more defiant with everyone around me because of him. I have also learned I was wrong when I said I would never move to the suburbs. I was completely against it--another stubborn conviction. I live in Arlington Heights now and I’m absolutely one hundred percent good with that.
What do you wish someone had told you before you became a parent?
That I had a blood clotting disorder. My son was born dangerously premature. I spent every day and night with him in the NICU. I lost my job because I had to be with him for so long. I had to leave Chicago and live with my parents for over a year. And although I’m grateful for their help, there is nothing more important to me than my independence. It wasn’t until a year after, that I learned I had a dangerous blood disease. The pregnancy could have lasted longer if I had known about it before becoming pregnant.
How often do you compare yourself to what you think other parents are doing?
I think I did more comparing while I was pregnant: “Look at that little boy and his Velcro Spiderman shoes; I’m never going to buy those.” Fast forward four years and that’s all the kid has ever had on his feet. Why? Because they are cheaper. Why else? Because he loves that they light up and I love that he loves that. But now I don’t compare. I do what works for us.
Describe your worst moment as a parent.
The first time I saw him after he was born. I can’t imagine that I ever felt that way. He weighed 1 pound 13 ounces. He didn’t look like an infant at all. He looked more like a baby bird with wires coming from all angels of his small body. His skin was transparent and I couldn’t see his face due to the tubes helping him breathe. One of my best friends wheeled me into his room. I remember that moment so clearly. My friend cried as she looked at him. I didn’t cry at all. I just stared. I was empty. I now know that I was detaching my feelings from my baby because I couldn’t believe that anything so small could live. It took a couple weeks to snap out of this. I can’t explain why it was so difficult to come around but when I did I cried.
Is there one thing you give yourself a pass on?
Not properly training my child to sleep in his own bed. When he was released from the hospital, I was paranoid that he was going to stop breathing. I created a nest-like bed for him right next to me so I could watch him sleep. I will give you one wild guess where the child sleeps today.
How many hours out of each day do you feel like you’re being a good parent?
This morning while driving to his daycare I complete zoned out and forgot to give him his yogurt and granola bar. So, there’s like 10 minutes where I was a crappy parent. I suppose if you add up minutes like that you could get some substantial mom points taken away, right?
How has having a child affected your sex life?
It’s premeditated. Every move. First you have the sleeping arrangement issue. Next you have the issue of finding a babysitter who can take him for the night. So…yes. Having a child has affected my sex life tremendously. If someone gave you a letter grade for your current parenting, what would it be? That’s a scary thought because some teachers are more forgiving than others! I feel that I have at least earned a B. Maybe a B minus because I forgot to give my son his breakfast this morning.
Based on what you see in your child right now, what is your worst fear about him/her as an adult?
His terrible temper. Sometimes it leaves me speechless.
What would you have done last year if you didn’t have children?
Gone to a coffee house and make a conscience decision about which flavor of coffee I wanted. Gone on a road trip just so I could listen to some favorite songs that might be too explicit for young ears. Gone on more than one date. Taken multiple baths. Taken a ballet class or two. Gone for night runs.
How do you think you're doing in comparison to your parents?
My parents had me very young and learned early to be strong and independent. I have adopted these traits. My parents made some mistakes just as I do. I think they did one hell of a job raising my sister and me. We wanted for nothing and were respectful kids. My sister and I are both independent women and we are a force to be reckoned with. I hope to instill this in my son. I want him to be able to take care of himself and whoever he falls in love with one day.
What’s your most brutally honest parenting advice?
I haven’t been in the game long enough to offer substantial parenting advice, [but] if I’ve learned anything it’s that when you have a child they are for YOU to raise. Not their babysitter, not their grandparents. I think that a lot of parents need to suck it up and realize that the time they spend with their kids is highly valuable. Are they going to drive you insane from time to time? God, yes. But the truth is that children need their parents. Would you want to be raised by you?
No. I would want to be raised by me AND another parent. Single parenthood is no joke for either the parent or the child. My son deserves both parents and I’ve already promised him that he will get just that once I find the right one.
Heidi Hollins, age 31, was born in raised in the Detroit and now makes Chicago her home. She has also lived in Phoenix, where she completed her graduate degree, climbed a couple mountains, and had her heart broken. In addition to working in higher education, her second job is being a mother to her son, Madden. She thinks the idea of “honest parenting” is fantastic and that it’s about time parents tell the truth, damn it.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for sites like Pop Matters and
afterellen.com Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," was called “poetic and heartrending” by ALA Booklist. Sarah is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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