Real Mama: Heather Hoang

Tell us a little about yourself…

I am 33 years old and have been married to my husband for 4 years. We have two amazing girls, Audrey (three years) and Vivienne (eight months). Audrey is a smart cookie and passionate about knowledge. Viv is my sunshine and was born with a smile on her face. Our yellow lab, Willow, was my first baby and she’ll never let me forget it. I have my master’s degree in Special Education and besides being a mama, have never thought to be anything else. When my girls are asleep you can usually find my nose in a paranormal romance novel or in my craft room.

Where is home?

We live in the very small town of Springfield Township, Michigan. We live in a suburb that is almost entirely surrounded by 75 acres of nature preserve. My girls are surrounded by wildlife with lots of space to roam and make mischief.  

What are your secrets to balancing your life as a stay at home mama plus everything else you manage to fit into your day?

For the first two years of Audrey’s life, I was a special education teacher to children in grades K-5. Being a teacher of special needs students is rewarding and fulfilling on so many levels, but after eight years of giving my all to other people’s children, I knew it was time to give time to my own. I was burned out and it wasn’t fair to my own child or those in my classroom to continue.

I became pregnant with our second child in March of 2012 and it was decided that I would not return to teaching in the fall. Being a stay at home mama required sacrifices that both my husband and I were willing to accept so that I could be the kind of mama I desired to be. I found the hardest transition for me was scheduling our day. In teaching, every minute of the day is scheduled, so I floundered a bit with filling our days. I needed structure and thankfully, so did she. I began by registering for circle time at the library, signed up for a mom and tot class at a local cooperative pre-school, and decided to turn our formal living room into a play/learn room for my girls. Thankfully my girls are early to bed so I manage to fit in some exercise 3-4 nights a week.

I’m also an avid DIYer and love to have my hands covered in paint and sawdust. My husband and I utilize a cleaning schedule so that our weekends can be spent on projects and fun instead of tidying up. I grocery shop for two weeks at a time and menu plan. We have plenty of systems set up in our house to make it work. My husband and I have date night every Friday. He picks up take out on his way home from work so I don’t have to cook or clean and we watch the latest movie out on Amazon. It’s a small thing, but it’s our time and we keep it sacred.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My twin sister, has and always will be, my greatest inspiration as a woman.  She is my example for every single facet of a woman’s life. My Audrey Laine shares her middle name because of the great love and respect I have for her. I hope that Audrey inherits her adventurous spirit, her boldness and her fierce loyalty. You know that quote; “Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor, the devil says, ‘oh crap, she’s awake.’”  Yeah, that’s her. She does more good in a morning than I do all week. She is ever my confidant, my friend, my listening ear, and my sober shower of truth. She never claims to be perfect, just always doing her best. I want to be like her when I grow up. 

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 got from a mama came after a particularly rough holiday when Audrey was just over a year old. I won’t bore you with details but let’s just say my first born is high maintenance. I was overwhelmed, deflated and just plain tired of trying to help others see the beautiful child she was. She just saved it for us at home and didn’t share herself with others easily. It was an amazing online mom friend that I’ve actually never met in real life who said, “You have to grow the tree you planted.”

At the time, my Audrey wasn’t going to be the easy-going child who was passed around from person to person. She wasn’t going to enjoy special events and the chaos that came with them. So instead of fighting it, I did my best to nurture her so that when she was ready, she’d never look back. I stopped trying to make family members feel better about the fit she threw when she was forced to be held or the way she refused to hug her family goodbye. We allowed her to interact with the world in a way that she was comfortable.

I’ll never forget the Easter when she was 18 months. Her papa walked in the door and she went running for him, hugging him with all the hugs and kisses she had saved up for 18 months. I think everyone agrees now that it was worth the wait.

As far as advice for other mamas, I usually remind them that perfection is not necessary. I have a quote taped onto my bathroom mirror that reads, “I will hold myself to a standard of Grace, not perfection.” While this touches me in many ways, one being my love for my Lord, it so very true for motherhood. Nothing is quite as humbling as being a mama. My toddler doesn’t remember the naughty thing she did yesterday, so why should I? Let it go and do better than the day before.

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

In many ways, yes. I can’t think of any of the BIG issues that I’ve been moved to believe differently or have behaved in a way I didn’t expect. But this is also true for my weaknesses. I knew that I would be the kind of mom that would take things personally, even when I shouldn’t. Every day I remind myself that the girls choices are not my choices, their successes aren’t necessarily mine, nor are their mistakes a reflection of me. They are and always will be individuals in the making.

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

My Audrey is named after Audrey Hepburn. Of course we all know the glamorous actress for her poise and grace on screen, but it is her selfless love of children and generosity through The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) that made me fall in love with her at the age of 13. Of course I’d love to hear her dish all the juicy details of her romances but I know that I would be changed by her gentleness and humility. She was a class act that is rare these days, and I hope my girls look to her in their teens.

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

Man, I can only have one? I’d have to say the ability to clone myself. That way I could be in many places at once and not have to split my brain into a thousand different responsibilities. Oh goodness, imagine the possibilities! I could create a cleaning crew or a kitchen staff! That would help me find balance for sure.

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

Audrey’s birth experience was most definitely not. I had an emergency c-section after 24 hours of labor due to a malformation of my pelvic bone structure. She would have broken my pubic bone at the very least. I was not at all prepared for the choices I would have to make and many of the choices I should have had, weren’t offered to me. My birth plan didn’t cover c-sections because I didn’t want to believe that my body would fail me.

With Vivienne’s birth, I knew that I would have a scheduled c-section so I came armed with knowledge, a solid birth plan, and the guts to make sure it was followed. I am peaceful and proud of the experience rather than ashamed, racked with guilt, and devastated by the failure of my body. I have the utmost respect for the team of doctors and nurses who ensured this experience was a gentle, loving welcome for our Vivi. I am thankful for a husband that studied with me, actively participated in the creation of our birth plan, encouraged me to find calm and quiet during the surgery and could not have been more excited to meet our little girl. It was the most amazing experience I could have hoped for.

Image by Melissa Mooradian Photography

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?

I am definitely much more relaxed than I was at the beginning. I was pretty strict about what Audrey ate, keeping to a schedule, limiting TV time. With Vivi, I don’t have time to worry about how old that Cheerio is and where exactly she found it. I am much more confident in my decisions and my ability to maneuver the toddler psyche. I’m learning to follow their leads instead of my expectations.

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

I try to remind myself on those rough days that my girls are not giving me a hard time, they are having a hard time. It’s nothing personal. 

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

I have a personal goal that I’m working toward right now that might be worth sharing as I imagine others are struggling too (at least I hope I’m not the only one!). I am currently working towards contentment. It is so easy to get caught up in the Pinterest perfection way of thinking, whether it’s our house, our bodies, our cooking or our kids. Other people have a way of making us question whether we’re doing enough, look good enough, make enough or have enough. I wish to be content with a home that is filled with memories, not Pottery Barn. I wish to be content with a husband who loves me fully and makes me laugh, even if he does leave his laundry on the bathroom floor. I wish to be content with paper plates and plastic silverware in a world of silver spoons. And I wish to find contentment in the knowledge that I am the mama my girls need me to be.

Image by Jennifer McArthur Photography

By Kathy S.

Kathy S. is Mommy to a beautiful daughter named Cassidy, born in January of 2012. Currently living the small town life in South Western Ontario with her handsome hubby, she is a Sales and Marketing professional with aspirations of being a stay-at-home-mom one day. In her spare time she enjoys cooking/baking, reading, scrapbooking and being outdoors. You can find posts from Kathy in Real Mamas, Real Recipes and Real Reviews.

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3 Responses to Real Mama: Heather Hoang

  1. You are such an amazing woman, friend, and mother, Heather! Thank you for being you and sharing your wisdom with all of us!

  2. LOVED reading this… you are an awesome person!!

  3. I loved reading this! Thanks for sharing your story!

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