By Steve Sears
Rather, she has two full-time jobs. Remember, she’s a mom. Son Luca Vincenzo is 7 ½, and daughter Liliana Catherine is 5 ½.
“I would say being a working mom is one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced,” says Tripi. “The most difficult part is the ‘mom guilt’ that comes along with it all. I am not always there for homework, I have missed tucking them in to bed, and I often miss sporting and school events. I love my career as a physical therapist. I dreamed of being a PT from a very young age. I also am very passionate about my photography business and wellness business. However, dedicating time to those passions takes away from my family time. It is a very difficult balance.”
“The most challenging aspect is trying to implement the right amount of structure, rules, and discipline but also feel like you are showing them love and kindness. It is difficult to not yell and try to remain calm when they are acting out of line. Every single day I feel like I made a mistake. Every child is so different and requires such different parenting and unfortunately there is no rule book that comes along with the babies in the hospital. I feel that the most important aspect of being a mom is teaching them to be compassionate and loving people while showing them support, love and a sense of discipline as well.”
Tripi and her husband wanted a child very badly, and she thought she was very prepared for motherhood. “I read all of the baby books, helped out with my niece quite often, and did pediatric physical therapy for a number of years. However, I soon realized that every kid is quite different, and all of the books in the world could not quite have prepared me for my son.”
As with most moms, having a young child sometimes causes changes in lifestyle and just life in general. “Motherhood has made me much less selfish and has taught me to be more patient (or at least to try to be more patient). I learned immediately my schedule is not based on me anymore, but my kids. It has made me feel deeper than I ever thought possible.”
Tripi learned from one of the best. “My own mother is the best example I could have ever had. She sacrificed so much to make my brother and me happy. She supported every activity and dream we had and celebrated every victory. She supported us, but never forced or pushed us. She allowed us to make mistakes and learn from them as well as follow our own paths.”
“My proudest moments are when I see my children doing something kind for others without me prompting them. It makes me feel like maybe they really are listening to the lessons I try to teach them.”
“Overall, I would say the most challenging aspect of being a mother is questioning my own decision-making,” says Dr. Sonia Wolf, loving mom to Vanessa, 13, Krystina, 12, and James, who is 10 years old. “You have to always walk that line of being demanding but not too hard on them, strict but not overbearing, and close while still remembering that I am their mother, not their best friend. Sometimes life would be easier if I just gave in, but I try to remember the big picture,” she states with a chuckle.
As for being prepared for motherhood, Dr. Wolf, line many moms, discovered that when you bring a first child home, you have no idea how difficult it will be. “I grew up in a very old-school, traditional Italian home where my mother waited on us hand and foot yet had to work all day and keep a household. Looking back, I only now realize how much effort and energy she put into raising us.”
“Motherhood obviously changes you in a number of ways. I think you don’t truly understand what love is until you meet your child for the first time. It doesn’t always show, but I hope motherhood has taught me to be more patient. With the birth of every child, my love for them has only grown and continues to grow every day.”
And as to the juggling of being a full-time mom and a job? “Being married to a chiropractor has allowed me to do more behind the scenes work. When the kids were very little and demanded unlimited attention, I was able to continue to be involved in the practice even though I wasn’t actively seeing patients. As they have gotten older, I have been able to get more and more involved with day-to-day practice (New Jersey Spinal Care, PA)”.
“I would consider my mother to be a great example of what a good mom looks like,” she says, paying tribute to her mom. “Like the rest of us, she was far from perfect, but there’s no doubt she always put us first and did what she thought was right for us.”
Dr. Wolf also takes pride in the everyday accomplishments of her children and is with them for the ride as they mature. “For me, it is more a culmination of little things like a waiter complimenting how polite my children were at dinner, or watching them hold the door for someone, or remembering a simple please or thank you when it would be easier for them to just walk away. Watching them grow before my eyes as they become young adults and seeing them make the right choice or decision when they don’t know I am watching, reminds me that I must be doing something right.”
“I thought I was sooo prepared!” she states in an exaggerated manner. “And now I can laugh at that self. I took classes, read books, had been around a ton of kids, treated children.” However, things changed the moment of her daughter’s birth. “Once they put Kate in my arms and I realized we were completely responsible for EVERYTHING, wow! Did I get a reality check! I think no matter how prepared you are mentally, physically with the “gear,” nothing can fully prepare you for the becoming a first-time mom. I am so happy that I had both my mom and mother in law to help guide and reassure me along the way. If I could go back, I would have leaned on others sooner and said ‘Yes’ to all help!”
Motherhood made Heaney “more selfless, more giving, more able to laugh at her mistakes and the kids’ mistakes, able to look at the everyday things through their eyes, more patient especially through the ‘But, why mommy?’ phases, and it taught me to not sweat the small stuff. Is there a smile on our faces? Are we together? Those,” she says, “are the important things.”
Heaney’s own mom raised four children (“She was – and still is – amazing!”) while working full time as a nurse in her husband’s office and loved to volunteer. “Quite honestly, I don’t know how she did it,” says Heaney. “But, when I have a tough day, I do think of her or I call her for help. She was a great role model and I can only hope that my kids one day think of me as highly as I do of her.”
Heaney, a physical therapist at NJ Spinal Care in Wayne, also is a career and family juggler. “I have always been blessed with a lot of help, (but) it takes a village. From my husband and extended family to sitters to an understanding boss, to kids that realize and respect that my work is important, too. Therefore, they know they need to be independent in some of their schoolwork, sports, and chores. My kids grew up knowing that work/home life is a juggle – my husband travels for work – but somehow, we make it happen for our family.
She feels the most important aspect of being a mom to me is providing my kids with a strong foundation in feeling loved, in self-worth, and having respect for others. “I have tried to teach them to believe in themselves and believe in the goodness of others. I think back to when I had to constantly teach them right from wrong or how to behave or how to respect others, and now my heart fills when I see them do kind acts for others or help each other or carry on a conversation with adults, or know when to say no and walk away. Yes, kids will make mistakes but more often, I now see them do what we have been saying, and teaching: Make good choices, Do the right thing, Be a good example. Before I know it, they will be out of my house and on their own. We are trying to spend as much time together before that happens!”
No matter the ages of Kate and Sean, Heaney knows parenting can be challenging in so many ways and it is different at different ages. “The most challenging aspect of parenting during the pre-teen years is not falling into the friend or buddy category. As much as I want to be the ‘cool’ mom and be friends with the kids, there is a line. Saying no is a lot more difficult than yes. That being said, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open, from the quick talks in the car on the way to school, to the in depth conversations in the car on the way to a far tournament to the quiet talks while snuggling at night, they need to feel safe and be able to talk about anything.”
Her greatest mom moments? Communication and comradery. “I think it’s seeing my kids become friends and actually like talking to each other about their day, sports, and life. As much as I love being the center of their world, I love even more that my son now goes to my daughter for advice and help. It’s pretty awesome to see the progression from sibling rivalry and fighting to comradery and respect. I love seeing their heads together and hearing their laughter.”
“There is nothing better.”