Last summer Meagan and I had a chance to hang out for a couple days and she shared with me a top secret sneak peek at her new book The Happiest Mom. Earlier this year we roomed together in Grand Rapids and could have easily stayed up all night yapping away. (Actually I think we probably did.) And then we ordered room service for breakfast and gabbed until check out.
I'm so excited to see her again in New Orleans this weekend for Mom 2.0 and Meagan is also a featured speaker in my Listen To Your Mother show. Whew.
So, now that you have some sort of introduction, I'd like to share a little Q&A about Meagan to celebrate the launch of The Happiest Mom. (Available in book stores and online now!)
Me: Have you always been a happy, glass-half-full kind of person or is it something that you had to work on?
Meagan: Except for a melancholy phase in Junior High, I've always been an optimist. But actually, the optimist in me can sometimes lead to overestimating what I can pull off and has led to a lot of motherhood angst. After all, just because it's possible that I could juggle a heavy work load, keeping up our home, and raising good kids all at once doesn't mean it's healthy to actually try to do it all at once. I have to continuously reign myself in so that my optimism doesn't get in the way of common sense and lead to burnout.
And of course, I've struggled with sadness and down feelings just like everyone else, particularly during the year after my second child was born. I have always known that I'd rather be happy, though, and have tried to choose happiness whenever I can.
Me: I know you use a more attachment parenting approach while at the same time hating the label. How does your parenting style make you the happiest mom?
Meagan: I think the parts of attachment parenting that work for me also make me happy because they feel right. For example, I knew from the moment I brought my first son home from the hospital that there was no way I could put him in a crib to sleep. It just felt foreign to me. That doesn't mean co-sleeping is all sunshine and roses, but then, neither is crib-sleeping. I chose the style that worked for us fully knowing that there would be some obstacles along the way.
Same thing with extended nursing. It's not like I get up every day and sing "I can't wait to nurse my hair-pulling two-year-old today!" In fact, sometimes I want to duct-tape her arms to her sides (oh wait, did I say that out loud?)
But overall, I am happy with my decisions because I know they come from somewhere deep inside me, and feel really right--not like what somebody else thinks is right.
Me: How does it make you crazy. (Oh, is that just me?) :)
Meagan: Heh...well, in addition to feet in my face at night occasionally and the hair-pulling-while-nursing thing, I think there's this expectation that if you choose a parenting style outside the mainstream, you aren't ever allowed to complain about it. I mean, just because I've chosen something and am overall happy with it doesn't mean there aren't days I wish I could just put my kid in a crib at 7:00 and be done for the night the way a lot of my friends are able to. I just tell myself, I can always change thing up if I need to, or if the feeling lasts. For example, I've been feeling pretty frustrated with nursing Clara for a month or so, mostly because I think night-nursing is getting in the way of either of us getting a good night's sleep. So I am working on making changes. It's not like once you've made some counter-cultural choice that's it, you're locked in. The beauty of motherhood is that you can really make it your own. Wait, did I answer the question?
Me: What is the first thing to come to your mind that has you thinking I wish someone had told me... ?
Meagan: I wish somebody had told me that I was the right mom for my kids. That I didn't have to mold myself into somebody else. That most of what I needed to know about being a mom was inside me the whole time.
Me: I tend to be disappointed by (what I see as) failures instead of the really awesome mom moments. I think we all should brag a little more about times we rock this motherhood. Can you share something you think you've done well as a mom, something you're proud of?
Meagan: You are so right. One thing I think I am really excellent at in general is apologizing, admitting I'm wrong and starting over--especially since I came from a family where parents would never ever apologize to their kids or admit failure or wrongness in any way. It takes guts to do it and it hasn't always come easily! I used to really dig in my heels to try to assert my authority and "rightness." But you know, I mess up too, and I think it's a great gift to show my kids that adults aren't perfect and that when you screw up, the loving adult thing to do is to apologize and ask for a do-over.
Me: Just for fun, what was your favorite baby carrier during your babywearing days?
Meagan: I always loved a simple unpadded ring or pouch sling (like the Maya wrap or pouch) when they were little, and graduated to an Ergo by the time they were four or five months old because I felt like it gave me more freedom of movement. Oh, how I loved that Ergo!
Get to know (and grow to love) Meagan even more at her blog thehappiestmom.com.
Win! I've got two copies of The Happiest Mom to giveaway. It would be awesome if you'd like The Happiest Mom on Facebook and leave a comment here to enter (but really, only a comment here is necessary to win!) Two comments will be chosen at random next Tuesday night after 11:59 PM.