Modern Motherhood // An Interview with Suuzi

Suuzi is mom to Axel (3) and Guy (2 months).

What did you love most about being a kid?

Nature. Being outside and just rambling around alone…in the forest and on the farm…just thinking and being really free and experiencing my senses.

What did you think about your mom when you were little?

My mom was someone that I wanted more of. She did a lot of housework...(I’m trying to find a way to say this so that it doesn’t sound critical of her). Now that I’m a mom I understand what she was doing, but as a kid being very selfish—not selfish in a bad way, but selfish in the way that children are—I just couldn’t understand that…and I was pissed. I was like, what the heck. Just play with me already. 

Also, I didn’t really relate to my mom very well. We have some really major differences, and as adults we relate to each other really well, but when I was a child, lacking in any sort of social skills or compassion for others, I had a really hard time relating to her. Our relationship was kind of rocky when I was a kid.

How did your feelings about her change as you got older?

As I got older I developed some really excellent coping skills for managing my strong and passionate feelings and my very dynamic personality, and with that I also developed compassion and an ability to relate to other people who were different from me. That helped me appreciate my mom more, and then that went to a whole other level when I gave birth to my first child. I was overwhelmed with gratitude towards my mom that she did all the stuff for me that I was doing for my son—keeping this little person alive. And according to my mom, I was a very similar baby to my son, (who was a challenging baby). I just felt so much gratitude and my heart really really opened to my mom and I felt so much love and respect for her. That’s how things stand now, we’re extremely, extremely close. 

Tell me about your path to motherhood. Did you always know you wanted to have kids? How did you know you were ready?

When I was a little girl I was very into it, breastfeeding my stuffed animals and all that. Then as I got older I became very restless and dissatisfied with our world—plus, motherhood isn’t really encouraged for young women. In my experience the dialogue was more about fear of unwanted pregnancy, [getting] your career going—that kind of thing was more emphasized. To me, motherhood was [seen as] an afterthought. Anyways, I was dissatisfied with the world, had those thoughts, do I want to bring a child into this terrible world? That’s a reasonable thought to have. But then, at a certain point, after being in a long distance relationship for six years, then finally moving down here and getting married, I think it was about three years when we just stopped using protection. We still didn’t quite have the guts to say to each other, “okay, we’re ready to have a baby now,” but we knew what we were doing. And we got pregnant really fast—after being in a relationship and having sex a lot for nine years. That almost kind of surprised me, because it’s really impressive how well birth control can work.

What are some of your favorite things about being a mom?

My favorite things about being a mom are when—oh gosh, there’s so many—I guess when myself and my children are really harmonious together. Even right now would be a good example. I’m doing something that’s meaningful to me, and both of the boys are doing something that’s meaningful to them: Guy is napping and Axel is interacting with his grandpa. We’re all in harmony, and that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re interacting with each other. 

Another thing that I really love about being a mom is I really love teaching politeness—I’m obsessed with it. It’s a really big deal for me and I’m very happy that my son has responded really well—that’s not to say he’s perfect, but he really tries. I can see how that’s going to benefit him as he gets older, in the sense of his own personal confidence and in his ability to interact in a positive way with other people. Politeness and manners are a really, really big deal around here. I also love being outside with the kids and watching them when they’re playing, especially in a larger group, and just seeing how their energy flows and the bizarre, funky little things that they do, I just love watching that.  

What is one part of motherhood that you struggle with?

I’m an HSP, a Highly Sensitive Person. That’s probably another reason why politeness is so important to me—I don’t handle it very well when people are assholes, and kids can really be like that. That’s probably why I’m a lot more strict than some moms. I don’t tolerate bad behavior well.

Can I tell you a really crazy story? Yesterday I picked up my son from preschool at 2:30—that’s a tiring time of the day already, people really should be taking a little break around then—but I picked him up, and I had my infant son sleeping in the carseat. I normally never do another errand, I just go straight home, but I’d ordered a case of Kerrygold grass-fed butter at the Briar Patch and I am out of butter and I wanted that butter. So we drove to the grocery store and when we got there I got my son out of his carseat and I said, “okay Axel, we’re going into the grocery store and this is a time for you to sit quietly in the shopping cart and I don’t want you to ask for anything.” (Sometimes in the grocery store he’ll be begging and demanding and it’s intolerable.) I said, “we are going to get one thing for you, we’re going to get coconut water for you.” And he said, “mommy, what else can I have?” And I said, “Axel, I’m not getting you anything else, it’s just the coconut water”—“but mommy, I want a get a gluten free cookie!”—“No, Axel, just the coconut water”—“mommy, but what else can I have?” and I could just see him starting to spiral out of control, and I also recognized this is why I don’t take him on errands after preschool. So he pretty much started melting down into a tantrum in the parking lot—that was good, because then I could just put him back in the car and drive home. I am not going to be doing tantrums in public. I just can’t do that. 

So you didn’t get your butter?

No, but that’s not the bad part. That’s nothing. So we get in the car and he starts screaming. His voice is so loud…and the pitch, it just penetrates your skull. He’s screaming, “MOMMY, I WANT A COCONUT WATER!! I WANT A COCONUT WATER!! MOMMY, MOMMY!!” Thankfully my other son is really calm so he just keeps sleeping. I turn up the music really loud—Daft Punk. Mommy I want a coconut water, then he starts to settle down a little bit. Then he thinks of something else he likes: Larabars. Goes right back up to full volume, “MOMMY, I WANT A LARABAR! MOMMY I WANT A LARABAR!”  That goes on, cause it’s about an eight minute drive home. After a while that goes back down, then, Mommy, I don’t like the movie Frozen. So then he’s just screaming, “Mommy, I don’t like Frozen, Mommy, I don’t like Frozen,” by the time we get home I’m really trying to stay calm but I’m having a hard time. So I get him out of his carseat and when he gets home it’s time for his nap. Well, he’s just losing it. He’s kicking, he’s screaming, he’s starting to hit me. I’m trying to get him up to his bed for a nap, which he absolutely needs. This becomes a fifteen minute experience with an insane level of volume and physical force. Eventually I find myself in my underwear drawer getting out belts, because I’m trying to tie him up. And I bring out these two belts, leather belts—I’m not going to hit him with the belts, but I’m planning on tying him up. I tried to get him in the high chair to stop him, I tried to get him in his stroller outside, just to restrain him, cause he’s going that insane. If I had a door here with a lock I would have just locked him in there for a little while, cause both of us were so hot, and it was so crazy. I was trying to walk away from him but he would just keep coming at me, and I couldn’t escape from him and I just needed to—so anyways, I’ve got these two belts, and I’m holding him down on the ground…and then, thank God, I have an idea, a better idea. I say, “Axel, if you don’t quiet down and take your nap, I’m going to call the police and they’re going to put you in jail.” And he just settled right down and took his nap.

Good one. I’m exhaling for you. 

Thanks. Roseann, it was really terrible. It was really fucked up. The biggest struggle is where everyone has lost their patience and the good parenting techniques are no longer viable or workable. But then those moments pass and it’s okay. I think a really important thing for me is to let go of those moments quickly. What happened there wasn’t an incidence of bad behavior really, it was just an incidence of exhaustion, and an incidence of me using poor judgement. I shouldn’t have taken him to the store. At the same time, I’m not going to blame myself for that because I’m just a woman who has some chores to do. You know, I just tried to go to the grocery store, so sue me!

What have you learned about yourself since becoming a mother?

I have become a much stronger person. I have really learned how to say no. I’ve learned how to harmonize people’s needs. That doesn’t mean I’m putting my kids first, it actually means I’m putting my marriage first…and also meeting their needs. I’ve learned how to be a stronger person. I’ve learned to be more dominating and self-confident. There are some qualities that I really needed to work on. You know when moms say, “my kid is my greatest teacher,” and I used to think, that’s really annoying. I’m actually realizing it’s true. Not because I’m like, oh, look at you beautiful little spirit, playing in the grass, no, you taught me how to take your toy away, tell you no, and send you to your room. It has really helped me become more confident and also trust my inner voice more, because I call on that voice a lot in situations like what I described from yesterday. That’s where I got the idea to tell my son he was going to go to jail. [Laughing]

What has surprised you about motherhood? 

I thought that becoming parents was going to bring my husband and I closer together, and it really drove us apart. That really surprised me. We’re recovering from that really well now, but the time between my sons births, about three and a half years, were some dark days for our relationship. I had this romantic idea that we were both going to love our child together, and it would bring us closer together—and that was stupid. I wish that was more of a social dialogue—but maybe it is and I just didn’t pick up on it. I didn’t think it would be easy, I actually expected parenting to be more stressful than it turned out to be. Essentially we both kind of polarized into these different roles, and he wasn’t as involved as I thought he would be, and I started shutting my heart to him. Then he was really pissed off because I wasn’t sexually receptive towards him—which I think is relatively normal with giving birth and breastfeeding—but I think it could have come back a lot faster if we hadn’t been on different pages emotionally. 

Are there any societal pressures on motherhood that you feel more than others?

Well, I feel those pressures but I really try not to give into them. I do notice that I have a strong desire not to be embarrassed by my child. Even though I know that if my son did have that full on tantrum at the grocery store, other moms would have just smiled knowingly at me, and maybe someone would have patted me on the back or something and people would have been nice. I still don’t want to have to be that person. Maybe my own personal need for approval now extends to my children’s behavior in public. In general, I actually feel okay about that, because I think that people’s need for approval from each other is just part of being the highly social organisms that we are. We need to show respect for each other and take care of each other. In general I think that pressure is actually positive. 

What are some of the biggest differences between your childhood and the one you’re creating for your children?

In our household there’s a lot more emotional authenticity. That isn’t something I blame my parents for at all, it’s just the way the world was. It was the eighties, they’d been raised in the fifties and sixties, it was pretty normal that there was a whole emotional life going on under the surface that was very different from what was happening in public. I’m not saying that I’m inviting my children to be privy to my private, personal life, but what I am saying is that my private, personal life and my public persona are pretty much the same thing. I’m not going to tell everyone the details of my sex life, but also, I wouldn’t be embarrassed to if it came up or it was relevant or if it was helpful information for someone else to have. With my kids—and I’m sure this is part of a larger social zeitgeist—there’s not that same sense that there’s this secret underlying something, and this is who we are in the world. There’s more harmony between those two worlds. 

How has your relationship with your parents changed since becoming a mother?

It has become a lot closer. From their point of view, they respect me more and see me more as an adult. From my point of view, I respect them more and feel more gratitude and appreciation towards them for what they did for me. There’s just a lot more respect and appreciation. We’ve come onto a level playing field where we’re all adults. Whereas before I had children, I was definitely still the kid. I couldn’t understand. They were also frustrated with—I was a lot more immature. Not to say that my behavior was significantly different, but emotionally I had never been responsible for someone else’s care and I think that really matures a person pretty darn fast. My relationship with my parents is so much better now. 

Can you talk a little about your husband, maybe sing some of his praises?

I fell in love with my husband when he was on stage playing guitar in a band that I was a fan of. So that was pretty fucking awesome. It was like a high school sex fantasy that ended up culminating in a marriage. So sweet. So, so great. My husband is very dynamic and hardworking. I have never—I guess I’ve met a couple other people that work at his level, but not a lot—he’s extremely focused and whatever he wants to do he will make it happen no matter how challenging or frustrating or seemingly impossible. It’s pretty impressive and it’s very entertaining to be around. I just get to see him doing all these difficult, bizarre, fascinating things all the time, it’s very exciting. He was a professional musician from when he was 18 until he was about 28, and very successful. He traveled around the world many times, and made good money. [He] worked with a lot of big names in that industry and had a really good reputation. Then that band broke up and he transitioned into the automotive industry, which was also a passion of his. European and performance cars and driving. So now he works for Volkswagen of America in the marketing side of things and he also is a race driving instructor and a driver, on the more recreational side. He also restores vintage rare european cars as a fun hobby. He still plays music, but his focus is more in the car world now.

What’s your favorite part about your husband’s relationship with his boys?

All the guy stuff he can teach them to do. It’s so fantastic having sons and then having a dad who can do all the “guy stuff”: fixing a car, wiring electrical, doing plumbing, putting up a fence, woodworking. My husband can do everything and he’s very good at it and it’s just so wonderful seeing my son learning those skills, which I don’t see being carried forward as much as I would like in the younger generations. It’s just wonderful to see them doing that and growing together and also knowing that those skills are going to be something that my son will have to bring to the table. 

How does technology impact motherhood?

It’s wonderful because you can connect with other moms and friends through social media and it can really help you feel less isolated and bored at home. But it can also suck because then instead of being present with your kids you’re thinking about each moment as, can I instagram this?  And that is lame. I actually am really toying with the thought of no longer featuring my children in my social media at all, just because I thought to myself, let them wait until they have their own Facebook and instagram and they can do it themselves. I don’t know if people need to hear about that from me and I also don’t know if that’s fair to their personal privacy. It’s been about a week since I’ve put up a picture of a kid, and I’m really considering not doing it anymore. I think what was hard for me is that I love putting them online because I get a lot of positive social feedback, because they’re very cute.

What are your hopes for your children?

I hope that they will be functioning members of society who have personal happiness and fulfillment. That could mean a lot of different things. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I think I’ve thought forward to the next five years but not ten. Axel will be a teenager, almost…Guy will be a young kid…it’s going to be really fun. I’m going to have a lot more personal freedom. I expect to have a lot more freedom financially at that time also, I think the house will be paid off and my business will be in a whole other stage, and I hope to have a lot more freedom of movement. Maybe take a few trips, but also probably still be here a lot, I love doing this farm and I plan to keep doing that. As far as my own personal body, I just want to keep living and exercising. 

Thank you Suuzi!! ♥ 

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