We are back this week for another edition of Project Sweet Life. Today, I’m pleased to be welcoming my friend Nancy who writes at The Real Nani. Nancy and I have been friends for several years. We have done a lot of life together including spending time together on Cape Cod and raising babies. Nancy is an amazing friend, well read, and quick to check in with me via text message when she knows my life is feeling chaotic. Welcome, Nancy!

Before there was Lola and Micah (Nancy's son), there was Stella, Malone, and Alice. This is one of my favorite pictures of all time.

Before there was Lola and Micah (Nancy’s son), there was Stella, Malone, and Alice. This is one of my favorite pictures of all time.

Nancy 1I live in beautiful Redding, Connecticut, just under an hour from New York City. I live here with my husband, Henry, and our three children– Alice, age 6, Stella, 4-going-on-5 and Micah, 18 months. We also have a fat orange tabby named King, who I mostly tolerate. I recently went back to work, as a writing interventionist, which means that I help middle school kids become better writers by working with them to improve their ability to express themselves on paper. Since it’s part-time, I still get to be a stay-at-home-mom two days a week. It’s a great balance for me!

The ordinary is full of glory. How do you make the mundane parts of your day happen?

Honestly? I take a deep breath when I wake up in the morning, and let it out at night, when my head hits the pillow, especially on the days that I work. My husband and I split a lot of the household duties and we pick up the slack for each other as necessary. Recently, I realized that because I was so spending so much time out of the house, between work and errands, that there was no way I could stay on top of everything. We were picking through clean clothes that went unfolded for weeks. So, now Henry does the dishes, and I do the laundry. The rest, we work out as we go but since I’m home more than he is, a lot of the day-to-day running of the household falls to me. But he does a lot of the heavy lifting, so it balances out!

What is the most sacred part of your day? How do you make sure you don’t miss it?

I don’t know that it’s the most sacred part of my day but the hours I manage to stay awake after the kids have gone to bed are important to me. I finally get to focus on something for more than two minutes without being interrupted, or you know, sometimes, I just go to bed really early. LOL. One thing I’ve started doing lately, though, is that at least once a day, I stop what I’m doing and just snuggle with each of my kids. If I sit on the floor, Micah will crawl into my lap and give me lots of kisses and snuggles. It’s the best thing ever.

What is one tradition from your childhood that you still carry with you? What does that tradition look like now that you’re an adult?

I carry a lot of food traditions with me from childhood. We have family favorites like spaghetti and meatballs, and mac and cheese that are inspired by my mom’s recipes, and we have weekly rituals like pizza night. My recipes are slightly different from my mom’s and we make our own pizza but it’s comfort food for my kids, just as it was and is for me. I also sometimes make breakfast sandwiches that my dad called Egg McBrodsky’s. It’s just an cheesy egg sandwich with bacon on an English muffin but my dad made them so well, and it was always a really special morning when he made them for us.

My children are being raised Jewish, so I try to impart some traditions such as tzedekah (charity), mitzvahs (good deeds) and volunteerism as well as taking part in the major holidays with my side of the family.

I’ve also created some new holiday traditions since I married a non-Jew. We celebrate Christmas with a dinner Christmas eve, which is a tradition my Puerto Rican husband grew up with, and the kids get new pajamas on Christmas eve.

What are you passionate about? How do those passions translate into your day to day?

nancy 2I never know how to answer this question, and I had to think about it for a bit. I think there a lot of things that I’m interested in, and get excited about but I wouldn’t say that I’m passionate about these things. I think it’s okay to just do whatever makes you happy, without being passionate about it, and to just enjoy your life. I actually have a lot more to say about passion in general but I’ll save that for a post on my own blog!

What books are in your current to be read pile? What made you put them there?

I have a lot of books on my To-Read list on Goodreads and they are all there either because someone recommended them to me, they sounded good in a review or I liked the cover! Yes, I do judge a book by its cover, literally. Of the books on the list, I am most eager to read The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman. It’s been making the rounds in my family, and I’m waiting to borrow a copy from my sister. I’ve read Hoffman’s other books and enjoyed them immensely.

When you dig deep into your core, what is one quote or inspirational phrase that will always be there?

This one, I have tattooed on my ankle: Se Hace Camino Al Andar. It means, “we make the road by walking,” or “we make the path as we go.” I first learned of the phrase from this fantastic book of the same name, in which Myles Horton, the founder of The Highlander School, and Paolo Freire, the great Brazilian education philosopher, have a series of conversations about education and social change. The phrase itself comes from a poem by an Ecuadorean poet named Antonio Machado and it is beautiful. If you haven’t read it. you can read it here, both in Spanish and English.

One thing I love is hearing what works for someone. So tell us one thing that works for you.

I will admit that this is sometimes easier said than done, but my biggest tip for all you moms out there: don’t be a martyr. It serves no one, least of all yourself. I’m not saying that you need to be totally inconsiderate and selfish, and ignore the needs of your family, but don’t be afraid to say: “I need to do this, because it will make feel like a whole person.”

Project Sweet Life Nancy C

Don’t be afraid to say yes to opportunities that excite you. Find a way to make it work, and if your husband or wife knows what’s good for them, they will support you. Before I got pregnant with my son, I had an opportunity to go to Europe for a week with my girlfriend. The logistics of childcare and my husband’s job were a little tricky but we worked it out, and I’m so glad that I went. It can be something major like a big trip, or it can something smaller like a workshop, or even a weekly ritual. Whatever it is, own it and make it work. Mothering is so much easier when you don’t feel deprived of the things that make you a whole person.