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Mama Monday - Marisa

Happy Monday Mamas! This week, our featured mama is MARISA! Marisa and I have been friends for a very long time and she is one of the most fun people I know. If I know I'm going to be hanging out with Marisa, I already know I'm going to laugh my ass off and leave feeling so grateful I have her as a friend.

Marisa is our mama who is absolutely, positively, DONE having babies....she thinks. I am so excited for this because I think there are a lot of mamas (ME ME ME!) who are struggling with the decision about whether or not to add to their family and I'm so happy Marisa is choosing to share her narrative with us!

"Hey girl, hey! I’m Marisa, wife to my lobster, Anthony, and mother to spunky James (8.75 because the birthday countdown has begun) and silly Henry (6), who happens to be Autistic. Not only am I a wife and mom, I am also a part-time paralegal focusing on Estate Planning & Probate (this is where I must say, you really should have a Last Will & plans in place for your children) and co-own The Trunk Show, an online clothing boutique, with my dear friend and fellow Mama Bear Talks mama, Alaina!

My husband and I are approaching our 9th wedding anniversary and have been together for 14 years. It seems like yesterday he sat across from me on our first date and I love that about us. He is my person and I truly enjoy doing the most mundane tasks with him by my side. When we first started dating, we talked about our future together pretty early on. I think we both just kinda knew what we had together. We both wanted a BIG family! A big family these days is basically more than 2 kids. We had names lined up before our kids came along and we were excited to grow old together.

Fast forward to 30-something Marisa and I kinda feel like I am done producing offspring. And that is a hard decision, especially because Anthony would love more children. I also often worry he may have some type of resentment when we are older if we do not have more, and that hurts me. Disclaimer, that resentment thing is totally made up in my mind.

You see, I had my first child at 24 years old, much earlier than most of my friends, many of which now have children 3 and under. I was at a different point in my life at 24 than they were. Now that the kids are a little older, I have embraced having a life outside of “mom”! I can taste the little bit of freedoms we are slowly gaining as people (not just parents) and it tastes GOOD!

I have been able to dedicate more time to other adventures, such as raising funds for Autism Speaks and participating in the Autism Speaks Walk in Pittsburgh for our 2nd year with our team, Henry's Heroes! , it takes a lot of time and energy to get to OT,PT & ST for our son, and attend countless IEP meetings. It is extra on top of the already mounting responsibilities of parenting.

I have been able to be a better friend and make an effort to brunch, lunch & drinner (drunk-dinner) with them. Hell, a month or so ago, I was able to go to a movie. In the middle of the day. With a girlfriend. And have a margarita while doing so! I have a pretty amazing group of friends. We always come together for life’s big moments, and we try to come together for the small too but it is hard when you have young children. I am able to do that more often with the kids being older. And I know if we have another, we won’t have the same freedoms and flexibility as we do now. Ughh, that sounds totally selfish of me.

Not only do I enjoy those adult freedoms but honestly, going to the beach with small children can be torture. We go with my family and do not want to make other people feel responsible for watching our kids during THEIR vacation. So there we are, on edge, by large bodies of water and crowds. The kids are at an age where we can explore without lugging strollers and diaper bags. We want to take them to see Washington, D.C., (one of my favorite places to visit) and we don’t have to lug all the items it takes to tend to small children. Plus, they are at an age were we can spontaneously get up and go and it is so much easier!

But then I think of the rewards of parenting. Of making amazing little people with the man I cherish. Of watching them meet each other for the first time and their first smile, and laugh, and explosive poop, and I want that again. I want our kids to have even more best friends in the form of siblings. I want my husband to be happy because he still wants a big family. I want to see our babies grow into a loving, caring, funny and smart adults. I want to bring more joy to the world by raising honest to goodness kind kids.

So am I done having children? Definitely. Maybe."

1. What is your favorite thing about being a mama?

I absolutely adore watching our children interact with one another. The love they have for each other is strong and seeing that love demonstrated when one of them may be sick or in need of help is so rewarding. When I hear them randomly stop to tell each other “I love you!” when they are playing or even just in passing, it melts my heart. Every single time. They truly love and care for each other in such a beautiful way. It is a bond that is indescribable until you see it with your own children.

2. What surprised you most about being a mama?

There are so many things that hit me like a brick but I really didn’t know just HOW much I could love our children! Sure, I absolutely adore my husband and couldn’t imagine another man in my life but the love I have for our kids is just, WOW! They make me strive to constantly be a better person! Before we had our second, Henry, I was absolutely convinced I couldn’t love a second child as much as our first but I was dead wrong. It is amazing how our hearts work and just keep getting bigger to spread the love!

3. What is the most difficult thing about being a mama?

Guilt. BY FAR! I feel guilt when plans have to change for James to accommodate Henry. I feel guilt when James has to wait for Henry at therapies. And guilt on Thursdays, when right after school, James & I leave for 2 hours of dance and I see Henry for like 45 seconds. Guilt is a strange emotion. You know the decisions you make are right for that exact moment in time but you worry about the long run. Will James feel like she was put on the back burner because of Henry’s needs? Will Henry feel resentment because I have this special time with his sister on Thursdays? Probably not, but I feel guilty about it. But, I no longer feel guilt when my husband and I have “us” time or I have “me” time. It is necessary time we must give ourselves to keep building our relationship on the strong foundation we have laid together. Baby steps!

4. The best advice you’ve ever gotten as a mama?

It doesn’t take money to show your love. This is something that has been instilled in me since I was a child. We had times growing up where there was an abundance of “stuff” and times were it was obvious our parents were struggling financially. All of our best memories don’t revolve around stuff. I remember my Dad freezing his a$$ off to build us kids giant igloos. I remember laughing and laughing over the silliest things with my Mama. I don’t remember the “hard times” and if I do think of a moment here or there that may have been not “perfect”, I don’t dwell on it. I was taught to appreciate what we have and not to keep up with the latest and greatest. As an adult, it has made a HUGE impact on how we parent. Sure, having a Christmas with a million things under the tree is fun but that moment is fleeting. The memories we make as a family, even if it is just building a fort or spending the day at the library are priceless and will always come before “stuff”. My husband often jokes at my ability to create things out of objects lying around the house because I refuse to go buy more “stuff” just for the activity at hand.

5. Favorite mama products?

Okay, so, I am totally obsessed with my Conair Curl Pro! It reminds me of the hottest trend when I was a child, crimping! It is a magical little tool that sucks up your hair and makes perfect curls that I swear, LAST FOREVER! I will legit curl my hair with it and rock that same style for a few days, only doing minor touchups. If you see me IRL with curly hair, I will gladly tell you “THIS IS TWO DAYS OLD!” and then blabber on about the Curl Pro (like I am right now)! Seriously, if you have medium length or longer hair, check it out! You will be just as obsessed! Small tip, make sure you brush out every single section of hair or you will end up with a tangle from hell and hate me for this recommendation.

6. Favorite bun products?

Not gonna lie, I am out of the game on this one. Since the kids are older, the best I can do here is the Kindle Fire (I know, I know… electronics are bad). Sometimes, we just need them to entertain themselves, often when I need to get my makeup and hair done with the above mentioned Curl Pro! Sometimes, we need them to chill out on the couch when they aren’t feeling well and the kindle helps with that. Also, there are so many cool apps that help with learning. Do you think we taught Henry all of the planets and dwarf planets at age 4? Nope, the kindle did that!

7. Favorite mom hack?

This is rough. I don’t think I really have a mom hack for anything now. If they were babes, I would tell you it was making homemade wipes if they had diaper rash but now I am at a loss. I guess doing what works for us is my “mom hack”. If it means sleeping in their room because they had a scary dream or having Little Debbies for breakfast because one of us forgot to get milk, we just do it. We don’t worry too much about what other people might think because it is what works for US! I highly recommend not worrying about those kinds of things. So what if your kid still has a bottle after a year old. So what if you co-sleep. And so what if you have cereal for dinner because you are downright exhausted! If that is what works for you and your family, do it!

And there you have it! I know so many of us struggle with this HUGE decision and I cannot thank Marisa enough for sharing her story with us. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to either of us! You can find Marisa on Facebook or Instagram, and my contact info is at the top of the page!

Thanks for checking in mamas! And we'll see you next week for our meal-prepping, at-home workout queen, working mama Brittany!

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