We were able to sit down and chat with our April curator Liz Denfeld. We've admired her for years and have enjoyed seeing her transition into motherhood. Read her feelings about balance, adventure and her sweet baby below.
Describe how life has changed for you since becoming a mother (Both good and bad).
Life has changed in the obvious, cliché ways… We are house-bound by 7PM (once Elodie goes down), I don’t get regular mani/pedis anymore, I’m tired – really tired – even though E has been sleeping through the night since she was 3 months old, we don’t go to the movies, our life revolves around the nap schedule…
That all sounds kinda bad, but really I can’t even remember what life was like before. It’s thrilling to experience life through the eyes of a baby. The genuine awe and excitement for anything and everything is inspiring and endearing. I discovered my husband has a smile I’d never seen until Elodie was born. It’s the biggest, happiest grin I’ve ever laid eyes on. It melts my heart! I’m generally just happier than I can ever recall being in my entire life. And as cheesy as it sounds, I feel more complete than ever, too.
How are you similar or different than your own mother?
My mom observed that for me, it wasn’t love at first sight the second Elodie was born. It took me weeks, even a couple months, to feel that all-encompassing, heart-stopping love. She was the same way. It definitely made me feel more bonded to my own mom to know how similar we are.
There are a lot of things about the way my mom raised my sisters and me that I would love to implement into my parenting. She was very hands-off, she gave us the freedom to explore our independence. I think it made us all into incredibly strong women. She always kept perspective – if we broke something or lost something she reminded us these are just material possessions. She taught us constantly about the importance of treating our siblings with love and respect, because they would be our best friends for life (whether we liked that idea or not when we were all young!). I look up to her in so many ways and truly hope I am half the mother she is to me.
How has it been balancing caring for your child and working?
I think “balance” in parenthood (perhaps in life in general) is a myth. We’re all just doing the best we can. Some days we get it right, others we fail miserably.
I am fortunate to work at a company that values work-life balance and the importance of family life. I work closely with many parents who are all well aware of the struggle of being a working parent. Those two things alone help me greatly when I try to find balance.
I think sometimes we (parents, mothers) put undue stress on ourselves to “do it all”. We assume people are judging us for being parents, as if this somehow automatically makes you a bad employee. It doesn’t! I can definitely fall into that trap sometimes, and I take on too much as a way to prove my loyalty to my career. But I also take the opportunities for flexibility when I can – and I do so guilt-free – I work from home one day a week so I can get more time with Elodie, I take breaks in my day when I have them to pay her a visit at daycare, and when I go on vacation I leave my computer at home and don’t look at my work email.
Do you ever consider moving abroad now that you have a family?
Consider it? We plan on it! My husband and I are big dreamers. From our second date when we both said we wanted to go to South America, and then did just that two years later, we have made it a point to say our dreams out loud and make them a reality.
After getting engaged in Amsterdam in 2009 we decided that someday we wanted to live there, and thought the best time to do this would be after we got married and before we started a family. So guess what? We did it! After two years living abroad we moved home in 2013, bought a house and had our first baby. We are more than enjoying life here in the States with Elodie, but it is in our long-term plans (dreams) to move abroad again one day when our children (plural meaning we hope there are more someday!) are school aged and can really benefit from living in a different country and learning how big the world is, how different we all are, and how we can learn from all of that.