In these motherhood series I endeavor to share perspectives from mothers of various ages, at various stages in their lives, and parenting. Florina is a caring, loving mother of two amazing boys. She is driven, athletic, and most of all, incredibly empathetic. She has a big heart and has instilled beautiful values in her amazing boys.
Tell us about yourself
I’m a suburban, working mom of two young, active boys, transplanted from an urban lifestyle and carefree Jersey shore summer days in my 20’s. I’m married to a big-hearted, loving, hard-working man that never stops giving and doing for his family. I enjoy an active lifestyle and have a love/hate relationship with running. I have always been goal oriented and still feel my best when I check things off my list. I love photography and received my most favorite (material) gift to date, my Canon DSLR camera, right before my first son was born. I love how pictures can capture a simple moment and transform it into a timeless, priceless documented memory. I am gender-wise outnumbered in my house and loving life as a mom of boys, trying to “enjoy this time while they’re little,” as everyone tells a mother to do.
Tell us about your mom, your childhood
My parents brought our family to this country when my mom was at an age younger than I am now, leaving most of her family behind in the former Soviet Union. I still cannot fathom the strength and will it took to leave everything she knew behind for so many unknowns with a mere $400 in her pocket (not to mention a painful case of pancreatitis with subsequent emergency surgery). She has always believed in hard work and dedication, and with an additional year of school in this country, became a licensed pharmacist. My mom is loyal by nature and worked in the same hospital for over 25 years until her retirement a couple years ago. She is very loving and worries to a fault about everyone she loves.
My childhood was full of countless weekend games of hide and seek, open-ended lego building, neighborhood Super Soaker water fights, Nintendo 8-bit Super Mario Bros., and endless summers running through sprinklers and homemade slip ’n slides. My sister and I went to overnight summer camp for many memorable years, traveled overseas and spent countless summers with our beloved grandmother in Brooklyn. I still joke today that I only had 6 toys, which is somewhat true, however, I never felt deprived. My imagination probably flourished more than it ever could have with countless battery-operated Fisher Price and Little Tikes tchotchkes. I think it was good for me to want many, many things but only get a few. I worry that supplying our kids with much more than we had will be detrimental in the long run. I hope the life skills we provide them and their natural temperament will keep them grounded; not entitled as many Millennials are today.
What are Jaxon and Dylan like? What were they like as infants?
Jaxon (4) and Dylan (2) are opposites with a splash of core similarities. Jaxon is incredibly sweet, sensitive, thoughtful, silly, bright, loving, and quite adaptable. Dylan is a strong, smart, assertive, warm, playful, stubborn, and animated goofball. Their friendship is growing before our eyes and is so warming to our hearts. I hope they are best friends for life.
As infants, Jaxon was a fairly easy baby minus the crazy vomiting the first year. His sleep was beautiful as he started sleeping through the night conveniently as soon as I went back to work; his first proof of his amazing thoughtfulness. Dylan was a shell shock to our unit his first 6 weeks on our team. His cry was piercing and he was just louder than Jaxon ever was at his peak, as if Dylan knew the second child needed to be heard. I went back to work and he still woke up once or twice at night. But, similar to his brother, he was sleeping through the night soon after. Now I’m just holding on to the fading dimpled hands of my youngest and taking all the hugs and kisses they will give and take!
What is one thing that your kids have said, something that surprised, amused or impressed you that sticks out in your mind?
This is a tough one. There have been countless funny “Jaxonisms” and newly found “Dylanisms” — each day there is something new they do or say that amuses or amazes me. Just today, Dylan took the toy abacus for the first time and counted to 26, counting each single bead. He hammed it up, too. He loves the spotlight. Jaxon has peaked (I hope) with the potty humor so I’ll keep this “G” rated. But here’s one story that was told to me that impressed me: Jaxon and Dylan both slept over my parent’s house the other weekend; Jaxon’s only time sleeping over there since he was 7 months old. Jaxon woke up bright and early before anyone else and quietly went downstairs by himself. When my mom found him a short time later, she asked why he didn’t come wake them. He answered that he didn’t want to wake Zeyda because his back hurt (he threw out his back the day before). That was a proud mom moment. In general, child development amazes me.
What has given you the most joy as a mother?
I get the most joy seeing my children learn and grow into their unique selves and in turn teach me more about myself. I see specks of myself and my husband in each of our sons, which is consequently a blessing and a curse. Sometimes I look at them in awe thinking “wow…we made that.” It is still hard to grasp the miracle of them and their existence. Of course, the spontaneous “I love you, Mommy” with endless kisses and hugs galore are tough to top. My boys are cuddle bugs and it makes the hard days more soft!
Is motherhood different than you imagined it? If yes, describe how so.
Yes and No. I expected it to be the most difficult, thankless, 24 hours/7 days a week job I would ever have full of worry, trial and error and lack of sleep and privacy. What I didn’t account for was how it would change ME completely as a person. Completely. I can’t watch the news involving a child without breaking down with total empathy for the mother and child as if I knew them personally. I hear stories of gun violence, child abuse and drugs and although it always affected me, it now gets me to the core. Any story involving a child, I immediately think, “what if that were my child. I can’t imagine what that mother is going through.” I think of our world and the future differently than I used to, wanting to help change things for the better and believing every small part will help. When I became a mother, I became a better person.
Any advice or comments for women who are soon to become new moms?
Let go of any judgements you hold of other moms for then you will not be so hard on yourself. When the time comes (and it will), let go of the guilt. It will come hard some days…it doesn’t matter if you work full-time or stay at home, breastfeed or formula feed, use cloth diapers or generic brand diapers, buy organic food or what’s on sale, co-sleep until they’re in elementary school or put them in a crib from day one, attachment parent or helicopter parent or don’t know what either one means. You will know what works best for you and your family. The rest is just noise. The Beatles said it best…all you need is love. Of course, extra “me-time” would be awesome, too. (Note: If you picked a good partner, you get almost enough of this.)