The Office Mommy: Trying to Master the Juggling Act of Parenthood

A new mom from Pickerington talks about her experiences as a first-time mother, the challenge of maintaining independence and the joys of parenthood.

Michele Cuthbert
Sarah Martin and her daughter, Charlotte

Sarah Martin, a Pickerington resident, is married to a first responder and is the stay-at-home mother of an infant daughter, Charlotte. Sarah was interviewed when Charlotte was 3½ months old. In this third installment of “The Office Mommy” series, which highlights all types of moms and their perspectives on the trials and triumphs of motherhood, Martin talks about the surprises of having a newborn, time management and cultivating a support system.

What surprised you most as a mom?

How much physically different I felt after having her: the breastfeeding, how strong my arms are getting from holding her and rocking her, and the sleep deprivation.

What are your top three challenges and how do you deal with them?

  • I want to make sure that I’m doing what is best for her, and I try to think 10 steps ahead—finding friends her age and schools to set her up for success. Talking things out with my husband and taking things one step at a time helps.
  • I’ve struggled to have my own independence as a mom, and I’m trying to make sure I don’t lose that. I’ve been staying up so late after she’s gone to bed to have time for myself and relax.
  • Just creating our schedule with her and to relearn our lives—when she naps, when she’s hungry.

How do you practice kind and firm positive parenting?

I love that! I learned about a week ago that she’s taking things in and I’ve tried explaining things to her. I talk to her about what we’re doing, how we’re giving, and how we interact and are kind with others so it is second nature to her, even though she doesn’t get it quite yet.

How do you deal with tantrums?

Right now she’s not into it yet because she can’t really say what she wants, but it’s usually to be held and fed. I have to be surrounded by people to remind me to remain calm so it helps her, too.

What family traditions will you integrate in raising your child?

I haven’t thought too much about it, but at Christmas, in my family, we go to Christmas Eve service and afterward one year we looked for a place to eat. All of them were closed, so we just went to the gas station to get snacks. Then we went home, opened all the snacks and each opened one present … the pajamas we wear that night. We still do that, and I want to do that with my daughter.

How has your parenting approach differed from how you grew up? Why?

It is pretty similar. My husband and I were raised in very similar families. As of now, things are pretty similar, maybe even things we do not realize yet. We had such stellar examples as parents. We have great relationships with our parents. I want that for our daughter.

Who is your support system?

Definitely my husband. We’re both learning together to be parents. It’s been pretty comical Googling and calling people to get answers. My sister has a 4-year-old and another born seven weeks earlier than when our daughter was born. She’s been very encouraging and very helpful and tells me when I am making the right decisions. She’s been a great role model. It’s been great that the girls are so close in age.

Do you have any time-management tips you can share with others?

I would definitely say the biggest thing is to get things ready the night before—even putting them in your car. That definitely helps the day of. I try to set myself up for success.

Michele Cuthbert

What were the three most unexpected things you didn’t realize before trying this (motherhood)? What did you learn?

  • How selfless I had to become as soon as I became a mom and put everything of my own on hold for her and make sure all her needs are met. That’s the biggest one.
  • And then there is postpartum care. My doctor said I was showing some signs of postpartum depression, but that it was not unusual. I was not feeling like myself. I had people to help me.
  • The physical pain was temporary giving birth, but it was physically and mentally more challenging than I thought. It was like an out-of-body experience. I had people around me to remind me that it’s OK and I am not alone.

Michele Cuthbert is a working mom and the founder of marketing and public relations agency Baker Creative and The Office Mommy blog.

The Office Mommy is a recurring Columbus Parent column.