Real Mama: Cassie W.

Image by Melissa Franson Photography

Tell us about yourself.

I’m Cassie! I’m 24 years old, I’m married to a really wonderful man and together we have a smart, beautiful 14-month old daughter, C. We’re also expecting baby #2 early next year. We have a playful, energetic dog, Sadie, who fits into our family perfectly. I’m American, my husband is German, and our baby girl has dual citizenship.

Currently, I’m a work-at-home mama, working as the lead editor for Mama Say What?! and I enjoy every second of it. I love staying at home with my baby and (trying my best to) work, mostly while she naps (if she’ll nap at all…).

I love to bake and cook, I love crafts and DIYs and I like to create fun manicure designs in my spare time. (Wait, spare time? What’s that?). I also love reading and you’ll usually find me with my Kindle in my bag or next to me in bed.

I’m a journalist by profession and a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism. I’m so blessed to be able to combine my two passions, parenting and journalism, and work for MSW.

Where is home?

Honestly, home is where my family is. I hold the lyrics to “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros very close to my heart, “Home is wherever I’m with you.”

I grew up on Long Island in New York and then my parents and I moved to the Clearwater area of Florida when I was entering teen-hood. I went to high school there, then moved to Missouri for college when I was 17. After marrying my husband (whom I met while living in Brazil) and living in Missouri for a couple of years, we moved to Germany, where we live now in the Stuttgart area.

All of these places hold a special spot in my heart and all are just as much ‘home’ to me as another. As long as I get to be around my husband and daughter every day, I’m home and happy!

Image by Kay Rogge Foto Design

What are your secrets to balancing your life as a mama, wife, WAHM (work-at-home mama) and whatever else you fit into your days?

Secrets? Balance? You must have me confused with some other mama…

Seriously though, I plan ahead and then take it one day at a time. And I make a lot of lists.

I like starting off the week knowing what we’ll do each day— for example, if we have a playdate, if we’ll be heading to the library, meeting daddy for lunch or just spending the day at home getting stuff done.

However, I’ve learned that being a mama means being flexible in your schedule, too. Just because C is ‘supposed’ to take a two-hour nap at 10 a.m., doesn’t necessarily mean she will. Actually, it generally means she won’t. So unlike other mamas I know, I try not to plan our day around the nap schedule— if she’s tired enough, she’ll sleep in her wrap or the stroller.

When we don’t have any set plans for the day, I thrive on lists. I almost always have a text document open on my desktop detailing what needs to be done in order of importance. MSW to-dos, to-dos for my Etsy shop, errands that need to be done, chores around the house that I probably shouldn’t put off any longer, etc. Usually, most of the things on my list don’t end up getting completed, but that’s OK.

I definitely have my plate full. I work from home while still technically being a stay-at-home mama, so I still have to keep the house up and make three meals a day. I do volunteer work in the English community in the area (with baby in tow, of course), and I’m also completing German integration courses at nighttime so I can keep my residency in this country. All while pregnant and taking care of a toddler!

I’m so lucky and blessed to have a husband who is such an awesome daddy and helps me out in every moment of his spare time. There simply would be no ‘balance’ without his 100% help.

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?

The best advice I’ve received is probably also the best advice I’ve passed along. It sounds cliché, but I promise it is so true: Trust your mama instincts. You have them, really you do. And even if you’re unsure of yourself, deep down you know your child better than anyone—including the grandparents, the pediatrician, the lady at the grocery store or even Dr. Sears.

If you think something is wrong—physically, developmentally, emotionally—you’re probably right. If you know a certain technique will or won’t work out for you and your child (CIO for instance), do what you know is right and not what everyone else is telling you to do. You can’t compare your child to anyone else’s because every person is so very different.

The same goes with pregnancy— when you become pregnant, your body kicks into mama mode. Most of the time, your body knows what to do and how to do it, and you’ve got to just trust yourself.

I’m truly a firm believer in ‘mama knows best!’

Are you the kind of mama you thought you’d be?

Yes and no. So far, almost every aspect of mothering has come so naturally to me; even though the tough times, it’s really been a wonderful experience.
I always pictured myself as a mama who had it all together, worked full-time, volunteered at my kids’ schools, took care of my husband and the dog, had dinner on the table every night and was still a top-notch mama. I pictured myself doing everything “by the book” and done perfectly.

Oh, pre-parenting notions are funny ones, aren’t they? Most days, I’m lucky if I get to brush my hair and put on a little bit of makeup before I leave the house to pick up something frozen to make for dinner.

I am, however, the kind of mama I’d hoped I’d be in other ways. I love my child more than I can put into words. I adore spending all of my time with her, watching her learn and grow, teaching her and playing with her and celebrating even the tiniest milestones. I find ways every day to show her how amazing she is, celebrate her little accomplishments and tell her how much her daddy and I love her.

I want her to be self-confident when she’s older and know that she is a wonderful person, and I believe instilling that in her starts now.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Honestly, I’m not sure. If you had asked me this question ten years ago, I for sure wouldn’t have told you I’d be married, have a toddler and a baby on the way, and certainly not that I’d be living in Germany. Life is ever-changing and every day is an adventure. I have hopes for the future, but no set plans.

Image by True Life Images

Was your birth experience all that you hoped it would be? If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?

My birth experience was very similar to what I had imagined before I gave birth. It wasn’t exactly how I planned, but then again, most things in life don’t go exactly as planned. Overall though, I had a good birth experience that resulted in a beautiful, healthy baby in my arms, and what more could I really ask for?

If I could go back and change anything, I wouldn’t have gotten an epidural. I know for some women, the epidural helps a lot and actually enhances the birth experience. For me, though, it was rough. It didn’t take correctly and I felt like I had no physical control of my body. At the time, and even now, I couldn’t imagine a worse feeling than having zero control. I’d rather go through the pain of childbirth five times before I have that experience again.

You can read C’s birth story here.

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?

It has evolved in every single way! What it comes down to is what I mentioned earlier about trusting yourself. I’m much more confident now when facing a parenting problem than I was a year ago. I know that’ll help me when our second baby comes along.

Of course there are things I said I’d never do, but I’ve learned to never say never. I think the biggest thing I said I’d never do was sit my kid in front of a television show so mama can have a time out. That lasted a long while—she didn’t watch any TV at all until she was at least seven or eight months old. Then mama got sick and needed something to distract the baby while I could lay on the couch and moan in peace. Enter Yo Gabba Gabba. We unknowingly discovered a gold mine in Yo Gabba Gabba. She adores it.

While she doesn’t watch TV regularly, now and then a 20-minute show helps her to stay calm when I need to shower and get ready quickly, or when I just need to get something done without chasing her around the house. Never say never!

Image by Kay Rogge Foto Design

Is there anything else you wish to share with the Mama Say What?! audience?

Find some mama friends you can trust and build a support system.

The ladies who make up MSW are some of my closest friends, and are always there for me through all the ups and downs of parenting, no matter what. We might have very different opinions and parenting styles from each other, but that doesn’t mean we can’t give advice, lend a listening ear and offer encouragement and support.

The last year would have been much more difficult for me without the help of these women, and I truly hope every new mama gets an opportunity to be in a group like ours.

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