Real Mama: Marie Truong
Tell us a little about yourself…
I am 31 years old. I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for four and a half years and I have two amazing daughters, Cesalie who is two, and Gianna who is six months.
I graduated from CAL with a bachelor’s degree in political science, and received my law degree from Golden Gate University. After getting married in 2008, I moved to Wisconsin to be with my husband who was finishing up his schooling. Once he graduated in 2011, we moved back to our hometown of San Jose. I am currently a full-time stay-at-home-mom.
Where is home?
I have lived all over the San Francisco Bay area almost my entire life, but home is definitely in San Jose, CA. Once I was living in Wisconsin, I realized that San Jose really is where my home is. It’s where I was born and raised, it’s where my husband was born and raised, and, fortunately, it’s also where my kids were born and are being raised.
What are your secrets to balancing your life as a stay-at-home-mama?
Saying that I have secrets to balancing my life as a stay-at-home-mom would infer that I am actually balancing my life. In all honesty, sometimes my life is balanced and sometimes it’s not. It’s a constant struggle.
As a stay-at-home-mama of two, my life can easily feel like I’m living in a bubble. My world is literally these two beings. We can go days without ever leaving the house, something I do not recommend. It’s not a balanced life when you’re stuck at home every day!
One of the ways I try to keep a balanced life is to always make an effort to go to events that I’m invited to. I’m the first of my friends to have kids, so I became automatically excluded from events that they thought I wouldn’t be able to go to because I had kids. It really hurt, but I understood the reasoning. So whenever I was included, I made the effort to go. I don’t think having kids means losing your social life, it just means that you go to events where either my kids can join or that I only go to events that are worth leaving my two favorite people at home.
I also joined a playgroup. Since I didn’t already have friends with kids, it was important to find other moms who I could identify with, and who could understand what I was going through. I could try and explain “what exactly a stay-at-home-mom does” to my friends, but it was nice having other people who just got me. Joining a playgroup allowed not only my children to socialize with other kids, but for me to socialize as well.
What has been the best advice you’ve received as a mama? What do you feel is the best advice, if any, that you’ve given as a mama?
By far the best advice I’ve received is “Only you know what’s best for you and your family.” I mean, it sounds simple enough but once you become a mom, everyone— even strangers— gives you advice on how to raise your children. Everyone has an opinion, and it doesn’t always fall in line with what’s best for your family.
I had to learn to take everything that was said to me with a grain of salt, and ultimately make my own decisions.
Are you the kind of mama you thought you’d be?
I don’t think so. I can definitely attest to being one of those people who, before she had kids, said she’d never do this or that, and now I am totally doing a whole bunch of things I never thought I’d do.
I never thought I’d give my kids McDonalds. I thought I’d be making my own baby food. I never thought I’d let them wander around church. I never thought I’d bribe them with chocolate or snacks. The list could go on and on.
But when it comes to the big things like morals, values, and religion, I’m definitely the mom I thought I’d be.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
In ten years, my daughters will be 12 and 10, and maybe they’ll have a six year old sibling. We will still be living in the bay area, but perhaps in a better neighborhood with better schools. With the children being in school, I’ll be back at work. I’ll hopefully have a law practice up and running. Ideally I’ll be working from home, so that while the kids are at school, I’m working. And when they’re out of class, I can take them to dance classes, watch their basketball games (because my husband wants all his kids playing basketball!), and help them with their homework. My husband and I will be celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary in the summer, so hopefully we’ll be taking a nice romantic vacation, but of course bringing the kids.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I would want the power to be in two places at once. Being a stay-at-home-mama with two kids, sometimes I feel like there is not enough of me to go around. It’d be nice to be able to be fully devoted to each kid at the same time. It’d also be nice to be able to sleep and/or shower while still watching the kids. A date with the husband once in a while wouldn’t hurt either!
Was your birth experience all that you hoped it would be? If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?
Yes and no. My main expectation was that I’d leave the hospital with a baby, so that was definitely met! I expected it to be a long, arduous journey, and it was. But what I didn’t expect was my teeth chattering. With both of my labors I developed fevers so high that my teeth were chattering.
Fortunately, with my firstborn, I developed the fever immediately after giving birth, so it didn’t affect my baby. Unfortunately, with my second born, I developed a fever while I was in active labor. When I finally gave birth, not only did I still have a fever, but my baby had one too. She was admitted to the NICU. Though we were both given 48-hour antibiotics, her white blood cell count was still high, so they kept her in the NICU for an entire week. I was discharged from the hospital without my baby. I was completely heartbroken.
If I could go back I would’ve been more vocal about getting antibiotics. The nurses attributed my fever with labor, but I was telling them that this had happened last time and I had an infection. They didn’t listen to me, and waited for an hour until my fever went up to 101 to finally give me antibiotics. I don’t know if this would’ve changed anything that happened, but not being able to have my baby in my hospital room, and then not being able to take her home with me, was heartbreaking.
How has your mothering evolved since those early newborn days? Is there anything, thus far, in your approach to mothering that you swore “I’d never do…” and you are?
In the early newborn days I never wanted to leave my child alone. Someone always had to be watching her. Someone had to physically be with her at all times. I never wanted to rely on a video monitor. But once I did, that thing was a godsend! I’m just more relaxed now that I’ve been a mother for a couple of years. I don’t worry about being perfect. I don’t freak out over every little thing. I cut myself some slack! As long as they are fed, clean, healthy and happy, then I’m happy.
Do you have a mama mantra? Or something you find yourself repeating over and over when times are tough?
I wouldn’t call it a mama mantra, but when I had my first kid, while she latched easily while breastfeeding, it really hurt my boobs. Every time I was in pain I kept telling myself to just get through the day. Just one more day. One more day. I kept pushing for one more day. My ultimate goal was to hit one year. I ended up breastfeeding for 15 months.
Is there anything else you wish to share with the Mama Say What?! audience?
There have been times when I have been so overwhelmed that I’ve had a complete meltdown. Like a full on “my parents had to stay over to take care of the kids because I just needed some rest and my sanity back” kind of meltdowns. It happens.
I think we all get there sometimes. Being a mother is tough. But just because you have those horrible moments when you think to yourself “I can’t do this,” doesn’t make you a bad mom. It makes you human. You can do it. You have done it. And you’ll keep doing it. It’s just about adjustment, and finding time for you. Once you can find time for yourself, you’ll remember that you have an identity other than “so and so’s mom,” and it’ll make you a better person, and make you a better mom.