Real Mama: Christi Crovato

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a stay at home mom of four kids, ages eight, seven, six, and five. I am a Marine Corps spouse. I home school three days a week (and the children attend a classical-style charter school the other two days). I am impatient, efficient, deliberate, and paralyzingly (I just made up that word) self-critical. I am also a trail runner, gym rat and once upon a time, loved and read all things political and historical. Now, most of my books include pictures.

Where is home?

Oceanside, California, though I hail from Silver Spring, Maryland.

What are your secrets to balancing your life as a stay at home mama?

After four kids (in three and a half years) and seven deployments (in six years) I’ve learned that there is no such thing as balance. For years I beat myself up for not being well-rounded (intellectually acute, spiritually sound, fit, creatively engaged, and thoughtfully giving). I was simply in survival mode. Then I began to realize that there are seasons in life, where certain roles and responsibilities take priority and tip the balance scale. When the kids were babies and toddlers, the day was relentless. Apart from my time at the gym and church, feeling depleted and off-kilter was a way of life. Now that the kids are older, the need to be “on” at every moment has abated. Margin in my life has finally resurfaced, and slowly I am including personal interests and adventures into my calendar.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Whenever I am confronted with a parenting challenge I literally hear either the voice of my mother, or family friends and mentors, Linda Jessup and Barbara Fairfield. Linda founded an Adlerian/Dreikurs parenting organization in the early eighties when I was a kid. My mother and Barbara Fairfield (an Adlerian therapist) were some of the parent educators on staff. I was raised this way and still use this method and theory as my roadmap to guide my parenting.

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?

From Linda Jessup: “Chaos is freedom without responsibility.” When my kids and family have gone Lord of the Flies, I can always tell it is because their share in the responsibility pie has been critically rationed! I feel overstuffed while they are left undernourished. When family responsibilities are more proportionately shared everything is put back into balance, as kids (and spouse) appreciate the time, effort and therefore value in privileges (i.e. DINNER). Mutual respect, consequently, abounds.

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

A little more so and a little less so. I never thought I’d homeschool, but I always knew I would struggle with patience and self-control.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I hope to be back in the professional world (despite not knowing exactly what I want to be when I grow up) while camping and running trails with my family on the weekend.

If you could have lunch with anyone famous (dead or alive) who would it be?

Tim Russert and Maya Angelou.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Invisibility on those cranky days.

Were your birth experiences all that you hoped they would be? If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?

I had all my kids naturally, without meds. I wish I took the time to learn the Bradley Method instead of just grinning and bearing it. I also wish I had doctors who were supportive of my birthing choice. But all my labors and births were fast and furious for which I am exceedingly thankful.

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?

When you have a clan of kids and they team up on you, I’ve learned, that like the ocean’s tide, if you want to live, it is important to swim diagonally towards shore. Swimming straight against the current never works; it just exhausts and overtakes. Being creative in your response while still sticking to your guns makes all the difference.

Do you have a mama mantra? Or something you find yourself repeating over and over when times are tough?

“There’s only 24 hours in a day; there’s nothing I can’t handle for just 24 hours.” And then, of course, I repeat that the following day! My grandmother taught me that, as she had 8 kids and was widowed at 42 when the youngest was only four years old.

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

I have enough woulda, shoulda, couldas to fill a book but I’ll settle with an observation. Parenting requires equal parts humility and courage. Humility is necessary to maintain respect and integrity (despite pride) and courage to follow through and be consistent. Furthermore, have the courage to parent according to your beliefs despite what the head-nodding, finger-tissing lady at the grocery store has to say.

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