August's Honest Parent: Jennifer Ann Coffeen
My great parenting strength is: working together with my husband.
My greatest parenting weakness is: stress and time management.
What have you learned about yourself specifically because you became a parent?
I am more fearful and vulnerable than I realized. On the plus side, being a parent has made me more focused and productive than before.
What do you wish someone had told you before you became a parent?
How consuming it is. And what an effort it would be to make time for friends, your partner, and yourself. But make the time! It's really important to stay balanced.
How often do you compare yourself to what you think other parents are doing--or what you "should" be doing?
More than I'd like to. Maybe 40% of the time? Sometimes the playground feels like middle school again.
Describe your worst moment as a parent.
My husband and I took our first trip away from our child to NY. The flight back was delayed four hours, and during this time our son spiked a fever of 105 and had to be rushed to the ER. It was the most horrible feeling, to not be able to get to him. I stood in the customer service line sobbing. It was such an eye opening experience for me. As a parent you can never really "get away.” I am completely tethered to this little person all the time. Our son was fine by the way, and I will never fly United Airlines again.
Is there one thing you give yourself a pass on?
I work from home so I'm on the computer more than I'd like. But it does allow me to be a stay at home mom, so I've learned to be ok about it.
How many hours out of each day do you feel like you’re being a good parent?
Well certainly during the hours he's sleeping. Let's see, he sleeps 11 hours at night and takes a 2 hour nap, so 13 hours. When a child is quietly sleeping in their room you feel like the most amazing parent in the world.
How has having kid/s affected your sex life?
Since my husband works with Google savvy high school students, I think I'm going to skip this question.
How have you grown as a person since becoming a parent?
I work harder now. On myself, my career, my marriage, everything. The stakes feel so much higher when you're providing for another person.
If someone gave you a letter grade for your current parenting, what would it be?
I asked my parents this question and they replied, "An A! He's very a very sweet boy, until the teenage years anyway." And then they laughed for a long time.
Do you really feel like you are doing the best you can? Could you do better? How? What keeps you from doing better?
You can always do better, it's a process and the joy is in the learning. My dad once told me, "you grow with your kids". Right now I'm doing pretty good for a two year old, but only so-so for a three year old which means I need to step it up in a couple months. If this child was ten I'd be an utter failure.
What quality in yourself do you fear is most likely to lead to failure as a parent?
When it comes to parenting, I would rather not admit: that I occasionally let my child roll around in cheerios on the kitchen floor while I read mystery novels. (The clean up is worth it)
If you could do it over again what would you do differently?
I wouldn't push myself so hard.
Based on what you see in your child right now, what is your worst fear about him/her as an adult?
That he won't learn from his mistakes.
What would you have done last year if you didn’t have children?
Read more books, traveled more, finished my novel (maybe), been more social. We missed a lot of special events that I never would have missed before having a child. Priorities changed and spending time and money on those things isn't always feasible. Also, I probably wouldn't have cried in the United Airlines customer service line.
How do you think you're doing in comparison to your parents?
I'm not sure yet. I do know that I chose a completely different family style than my parents. They were young, traditional, and lived in a small town. I am probably more strict and patient than my parents, but also more anxious and stressed.
What’s your most brutally honest parenting advice?
Life is more fragile than you think.
Would you want to be raised by you?
The real question is, would I want to raise myself? And the answer is no, I was kind of a wild kid.
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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