Real Mama: Marrissa Parkinson

Tell us a little about yourself…

I am a 26-year-old mommy to a 2.5 year old little girl, Ella. My husband and I will be celebrating our five year wedding anniversary in August. I graduated from the Marketing program at Conestoga College, however I am currently a stay-at-home mom and love that I get to spend these precious years with my daughter. I love to learn about health and fitness and I’m always up for trying something new. I also have the most embarrassing iPod playlist you will ever hear because I simply like all music!

Where is home?

After many moves we have finally found a house to call home! We live in the Forest Heights area in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

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

I thought that being a stay-at-home mom would make life simple. After all, there would no longer be a hectic schedule of trying to get everybody ready, fed and out the door by 7:30 am. I had a very common misconception that the stay-at-home mom’s house would be far cleaner and more organized than a working mom’s house. I suppose I forgot that staying home also meant you had a stay-at-home child!

I find the best way to stay on top of things is to schedule everything that I want to accomplish. Staying healthy is important to me so I actually schedule my workouts everyday to ensure I don’t suddenly become too busy and skip it. I try to have regular activities planned that we do on certain days of the week (swimming, music and movement, etc) and those are written on the calendar. However, I try not to “over-book” us. Friday mornings are my “meal-planning” days. I figure out what meals we’ll have for the following week and do my grocery shopping accordingly. This not only helps with time, but it also saves quite a bit of money. I also must credit my husband who is extremely helpful when it comes to the daily chores. I suppose I got lucky but I found a man who isn’t afraid to start washing the dishes once he has finished his dinner.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

I definitely cannot say that I have one person as my biggest inspiration. I am inspired by different people for different aspects of being a mom.

My mother has played such a huge role in my life and it’s amazing to see her play such a major role in my daughter’s life as well. Something my mother seems to have mastered is the art of listening. She can listen to me vent about my daily struggles or concerns without feeling the urge to volunteer advice. Sometimes, just by allowing me to vent out my frustrations, I manage to solve my own problems. And if not, she always seems to have solid advice to offer (when asked).

My friend Stacey has been a great example of what a stay-at-home mom entails. I’m constantly inspired by her fun meal ideas and activities that she has planned for her daughter. I also consider Stacey to be my “Mommy Google” because she has absolutely dedicated herself to learning as much as possible about children and parenting. She will always tell me how to get a fever down before I have a chance to type it into my computer.

My friend Amanda, who is a working mom, inspires me by her “let kids be kids” attitude. It’s rare to ever see her frazzled by the little things that can sometimes stress a mama out.

My sister Jen, who is a working mom, has been a great example of how to balance it all. With two children and a career, she always finds time to talk to me about the little things (even if it’s on her way into work). She was born with the “mother gene” which she demonstrates by always showing an interest in our lives and concern when we’re not feeling well. She is always making an effort to learn different methods to use while raising her children to ensure they grow up happy and healthy.

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 received as a mama was to “do what is best for me and my baby”. When I brought home my newborn baby, I felt as if I had no idea what I was doing. My husband and I felt clueless. (No amount of prenatal classes can prepare you for parenthood). I remember getting worked up about not doing things perfectly and by the book. My friend Stacey constantly reminded me that I was the expert on my child and to just follow my intuition. She also provided me with the most comforting one liner a mama can hear: “It will get better.” And she was always right! Regardless of the stage you are going through with your child, it WILL get better. You WILL get through it. So hang in there mama!

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

Yes and no. I definitely do not read as many parenting magazines or books as I expected. I always thought I’d be the “parenting expert”. Instead I have really learned to rely on my gut instincts when it comes to raising my daughter. I try not to have all of the answers. I just try to treat my daughter like the little person that she is, show her respect and teach her respect. I can be stern, but I also give her as much praise as I can to help her grow into a self confident person. Being the perfect parent is no longer the goal. Raising a daughter who feels loved and secure is top priority.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Ten years from now I will be the mama of a 12 year old! (Is there some way we can slow down time?) My hope is that I can be a work-from-home mama. I want to be involved in my daughter’s life. I want to know her friends, volunteer on her sport teams, and be involved with her school. I also hope we can have the kind of relationship that my mother and I had when I was 12 years old. Hopefully she isn’t too cool for me by the

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

If I could have lunch with anyone famous, I’d probably choose Chalene Johnson. She’s my favorite fitness guru (Turbo Jam, TurboFire, ChaLEAN Extreme). I think spending time with her would be so uplifting and just plain fun!

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

If I could have a superpower, it would probably be to fly or teleport. We’d definitely be able to go on more family vacations!

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 close to perfect. Thirteen hours of hard work with the best payoff in the world! The only part I would change is to have had a midwife. My doctor wasn’t the one who ended up delivering my daughter (she wasn’t available) so I felt a lack of connection there. But to be perfectly honest, during those contractions I was totally unconcerned about which doctor delivered my baby. I was grateful to have the doctor and nurses who were there with me.

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?

My mothering style has changed so much since the early newborn days. I used to worry about doing everything perfectly. Everything had to be “by the book”. My goal was to be Super Mom. Now I am relaxed about most things. If, at the end of the day, Ella is happy and feels loved and I get some sleep, it’s been a successful day!

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

The wise words of my friend Stacey: “It WILL get better!”

Image by Oh So Savvy Photography

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

Motherhood is a challenge! We are constantly learning and growing from it and I still see far too much criticism happening. As women, especially as mothers, we need to learn to appreciate our differences and respect each other’s approach. If you see a mother with a child throwing a tantrum, try to be compassionate. Instead of debating which parenting method is better (stay-at-home mom vs. working mom, breastfeeding vs. formula feeding, etc) let’s try to just respect each person’s decision. After all, as a mama you have to do what is right for you and your child. There is no one solution for all children or parents. 

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