Monday, January 9, 2012

Mom in the Spotlight: Jennifer McLester - Act II

Please enjoy the second half of our spotlight interview with 
Jennifer McLester.    

What is getting easier now that your girls are older?  In turn what is getting harder?
Every stage has its own set of reliefs and complications. Now, my 7 year old can be helpful.  She goes to school, reads very well and loves to be engaged in some kind of art project.  She has the potential to entertain herself and keep her mind active, but as my firstborn, it really has been the two of us against the world for a long time.  So she prefers to be a couple of feet from me at all times.  It is hard to get her to detach and do all those wonderful things she is capable of.  Plus, with female maturity comes a sassiness…all of you with little girls know what I’m talking about.

Stella is 3. Enough said.  She is obsessed with band aids, I have to wrestle her to the ground to get her teeth brushed and she has decided she will absolutely NOT eat anything green. She is, however, the little sister and only knows life with a sibling.  She is more independent and likes to spend time by herself.

They are each smart, fun and lovely to be with, but together I feel like I live life in five minute increments, one coffee scoop at a time.  They love each other, get along at times and fight like sisters.

One thing that changes for all women after giving birth is their feelings about their body.  For dancers, whose body was their instrument, and was in tip-top form for years, the changes can be especially traumatic.  Have your feelings about your body changed for the better or worse?
 I can honestly say I miss my pre-baby body.  More so, I miss having the time to take care of myself and being that physical person.

Now for the big question - How much sleep do you get typically? 
You know, it is interesting you mention that.  The sleep question is HUGE, right?  You know you aren't going to get sleep, but there is no way you can imagine the reality of it.

I use to go around asking people, "Since all the mothers of the world are sleep deprived where in the grand equilibrium of the cosmos does it get made up?"   I was obsessed with this question and asked everyone.  Finally, one of my neighbors gave me a decent answer when he said it doesn't get "made up" it's "pay back!"  We are paying back our mothers and all the generations that came before us. 

I didn’t get much sleep when Hazel was born.  I nursed for a year with both my children so that has its own intrinsic sleep deprivation mechanism.  Hazel literally got up two to three times a night until she was almost four.  The amazing thing was that she stopped the night Stella came home from the hospital.  Almost like she felt our unit was complete and safe under the same roof and she could finally rest.

I was so interested in sleep that I made a piece about it with all my modern students at Pebblebrook high school entitled Movement of the Rapid Eye

The Viking Princess was always a pretty good sleeper.  She slept through the night pretty quick.  She is a night owl and I am not.  I have a hard time getting her to sleep at a decent hour.
To answer your question I get about 6 – 7 hours of sleep now, but it was a long time coming.

One thing I have learned about myself, now that everybody has a separate schedule with school, is I need an hour by myself before the rooster crows.  Hazel gets up at 6 to get ready for the bus and I…Well you can figure out the uncivilized time I get up.

Did you always envision yourself with children?  Could you see not having kids being a lifelong regret or something you'd make peace with?
 I have always seen myself with children, and these are the kids I envisioned.  They are the children I was supposed to have.  I look at them like I look at my feet, they are part of me.  It definitely would have been a huge regret if they didn't exist.  It’s Life, you know, and you have to participate.

What's your best Good-God-why-me mommy story?
Don’t we have those every day? 

One that comes to mind is a day we took Hazel to dance class.  Stella was just 2 and super unpredictable.  That particular day I had left all my personal things (phone, purse) in the car because the all mighty spirits haven’t given me enough arms to accomplish what I need.   I tell my kids all the time, “Mama is not an octopus.” 

Dance class is scheduled a little later than I would like and Stella is always in that, “I’m tired but I’m going to run around so I don’t fall asleep” mode.  I realized soon after Hazel started class that I needed my phone.  I picked up wild Stella, went to the parking lot, unlocked my door and put my keys in the driver’s seat…The Viking Princess decided to run away from me in the very busy parking lot.  In order to catch her I had to slam the car door shut.  A couple of very slow mo seconds later I had her safe in my arms, she’s screaming, I’m doling out the requisite “No No’s” and I hear the CLICK OF DOOM.

Yup.  The door locked with all my personal things and keys inside.

I proceeded to spend the next 45 min. of class time begging people to let me use their phones to call my husband, who was supposed to be home from work.  I probably made no less than 15 calls hoping he would answer and bring the extra keys out to me.  No response.  Totally MIA.  I then started researching professional help.  Finally, with 5 min. left of class I got in touch with a wrecker truck.  Lady H got out of class, we waited for the truck and $65.00 later we were on our way home.

As soon as we got into the car my husband texted me and asked if we were on our way home. Clueless.

You are a single parent now.  I was raised by a single mom, and as a mother of two I find the idea unfathomably admirable.  Can you speak a little about ending a marriage and parenting solo?   
Yes, sadly, I am currently going through a divorce.  I, of course, didn’t envision life this way, but you know what, I have really always been a single mom.  So as far as taking care of the kids, it is a lot easier now that there isn’t a giant negative cloud over us .   The difference is I have to stand on my own feet financially again.  The biggest challenge is finding the right job. Something that allows me to be there for my girls and navigate around their schedules and creating a strong infrastructure to make sure the girls are well taken care of.  Plus a job that brings in the necessary salary to support a family. Hence the mad search.  There is still a lot to figure out, and it is scary at times, but we all see the proverbial light. 

This is a renaissance for me and I am confident that I will be able to reenter the dance world and weave arts journalism into my career path.

To view more of Jennifer's work, visit the following links:

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