We all have that cool mom friend, the one who dispenses helpful advice with humor and mom camaraderie. Lucky for me I get to work with our Journey to Motherhood Mom we are featuring today, Stephanie Dolgoff. Not only has she published a book that was a National New York Times Bestseller she authors one of my favorite blogs formerly HOT Dispatches From Just The other Side Of Young. Funny title but misleading because I see her all the time and always tell her “sorry hon, your still hot!”
Name: Stephanie Dolgoff
How long have you’ve been living in Manhattan? God help me, since the day I was born 45 years ago, with 12 years in Brooklyn and four in Connecticut when I was in college.
Occupation: Writer and Editor
When Did you first Become a Mother? May of 2003, if you don’t count all the boyfriends I mothered even though that was a really bad idea.
Before becoming a mother, what did you know about motherhood? Mostly only the platitudes about how your life will never be the same, that it’s the hardest job you’ll ever love, that kind of thing. All true, but not materially helpful in any way. I mainly knew that I had this craving to hold a little person that was mine.
Was the reality close to your personal image/idea? Well, I had this image of myself zipping around the city with my baby, taking mommy/baby yoga classes, doing mom stuff with my lovely little baby strapped to my chest, meeting mom friends with similar freedom. But I had twins, and so that didn’t happen. Mobility in NYC is pretty limited when you have twins, especially living where I live on the Lower East Side, far from the subway. Not that I could have gotten them both down the steps by myself anyway. And you can’t do mommy/baby/baby yoga. So that was hard—I mostly walked everywhere, and with naps and all I didn’t get very far. And I went places usually with my mom or husband holding one of them, so I couldn’t be as independent. But I got used to that. I think the toughest part was not being able to focus all my attention on one baby for very long.
How would you describe the first year?
It was like an ER. I was constantly jumping up, responding, stopping this one crying, sticking my breast in that one’s mouth, pumping and trying to get some sleep. And my husband was a 100 percenter, so I wasn’t doing it alone. There were some lovely moments, but it was constant action.
You had twins - how was it juggling two babies?
See above. Oy. But it got easier and easier every week, and now that they’re nine, it is awesome. They really do play with each other.
Did you have a support system being near by? I do! My mom moved across the street after her husband passed away and I can’t overstate how great that is. My husband is now my ex husband but he, too, lives across the street and we co-parent pretty smoothly. And we have an amazing babysitter who works for both me and my husband, so it’s all pretty smooth. I am lucky lucky lucky.
Now that your girls are a bit older how is the juggle going? The challenge now is that they can’t stand each other about 25 % of the time and really need time apart. I have them by myself, so there’s a lot of separate playdates and running this one here or there. The weekend are pretty much 100% kid time. But they’re so independent compared to when they were little that now that I don’t have to do everything for them things are a lot more manageable.
Tips for new moms?There are about a million ways to be a good mom and only a handful of ways to be a shitty mom—judgy moms’ opinions to the contrary. I found that the most judgmental, strident moms—the ones that were convinced they found “the way”—were often the most insecure, the ones hoping that if they do everything perfectly their kid will somehow be protected from life. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works, so you just do the best you can, which is probably more than good enough. I’d say listen to your instincts first, books and friends second, and don’t make yourself crazy. If you pay attention to your kids, what they need and want, teach them to be good friends and kind people, and try to say yes whenever you can, you’ll be a sane parent and they’ll be good little people. The rest will work itself out.