Real Mama: Victoria Hershman

Tell us a little about yourself…

A little or a lot?? I am a very wordy individual, but I shall try to keep it short. I am a wife and mom. I have two adorable children (one Tiny Dictator and one Little Minion, who is still in the oven) and two fur babies. My husband is currently serving in the US Army. I own Victoria Anne Photography and am currently pursuing my doula certification and I also serve as photography manager for The Birthing Site. On top of all of that, we are beginning homeschooling with Tiny Dictator, who turns 4 in June.

I was an English major in college and enjoyed studying English literature up to the Victorian Era. I am an avid reader and can never seem to be studying too much. I am a Tolkien fanatic and love Harry Potter and Star Wars, and am among the fandom that thinks they should bring Firefly back and pretend Serenity never happened.

Where is home?

I love this question. My husband is in the military, so we move around a lot. I was raised in South Georgia and he was raised in Central Virginia. We are both southerners at heart, but after traveling extensively I’ve come to realize that home isn’t really a place or even a house. It’s just being with the ones you love. We can be in any hotel room from here to Washington state, and it will always feel like home to me as long as I have them.

What are your secrets to balancing your life as a work-at-home mama, photographer, and anything else you manage to fit in?

Once I figure that out, I’ll be sure to let you in on the secret. I start my day at 6:30 with my photography business. Then it’s on to cooking breakfast and making sure the kids, the husband, and the dogs are taken care of. Then housework and homeschooling. Without a set schedule (do this, then this, then this, then this) I’d be so lost. I live off of planners and writing things down. Most days I still feel like I am drowning. Other days I feel like I was able to accomplish everything. But for the most part, I’m just grateful to go to bed without the house burning down around me.

What has been the best advice you received as a mama? What do you feel is the best advice, if any, that you have ever given as a mama?

My advice is to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Nor was it maintained and self-sustaining in a year. They worked every day to build up the empire. Every day is a journey. Sometimes things don’t get done, and that’s OKAY. Stop stressing and enjoy your family. The dishes can (sometimes) wait.

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

Definitely not. I’m a lot more impatient than I ever thought I’d be. I was always the mother hen, making sure everyone was taken care of. Now, I’m still mother hen, but with her head cut off wondering how Tiny Dictator managed to get dressed this morning and wondering - did he eat lunch??

Image by Baby Joy Photography

J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ve been reading his work since I was 10. The more I learn about him, the more I adore him.

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

Witchcraft. The Harry Potter kind. Where I could wave a wand and the dishes would wash themselves and the clothes would put themselves away.

Was your birth experience all that you hoped it would be? If you could go back and change anything, what would it be? How are you preparing for your upcoming birth? Are you doing anything different than you did the first time?

Absolutely not. My pregnancy with Tiny Dictator was the smoothest journey ever. I had almost no pregnancy complaints. I started swelling like a balloon around 32 weeks. Five weeks later I was being rushed into an emergency induction because I had developed severe pre-eclampsia/HELLP Syndrome, a highly dangerous variant of pre-e that has a high mortality rate in both mothers and infants. I spent a week in the hospital, mostly without my son. My husband was in basic training. A lot of what happened I had zero clue about. I had no idea what pre-eclampsia was, much less HELLP Syndrome. I didn’t know that I could indeed breastfeed while on magnesium (which I was on for three days). I definitely didn’t know I’d agree to try for one more child after three years, after refuting everyone’s claim that Tiny Dictator needed a sister. I was terrified to try again. So many things went wrong. My child and I were alive, yes, however, I still suffer from depression and I still suffer from the lasting effects of HELLP Syndrome. What would another child do to me?

After becoming pregnant with Little Minion in August 2013, I have decided that both of my children are hellbent on killing me. I was diagnosed with PIH (pregnancy induced hypertension) at 32 weeks and we are now on a waiting game, waiting on me to either make it full term or develop pre-e and HELLP again. Once I deliver, I’ll be sure to update.

How has your mothering evolved since those early newborn days? Is there anything, thus far, in your approach to mothering that you swore you would never do?

TV as a babysitter. Some days, that’s seriously the only way I can get the dishes done or photos edited without a monkey clinging to my back. I thank God every day for Star Wars Clone Wars and Pokémon. I limit it to an hour, but it’s an hour that I have to myself to get done what needs to get done, without the constant, “Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mama. Mama. Mama. Mama. Ma. Ma. Ma. Ma.”

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

On nights where I’m exhausted and don’t feel like reading Tiny Dictator his three (or five) books… and days where I struggle to get out of bed and cater to everyone’s needs… and middle-of-the-nights when he’s screaming for me… I remind myself that it all ends too quickly. Soon he’ll be reading by himself and won’t enjoy being read to as much. He’ll no longer want snuggles from mommy and it’ll be gross to kiss me. There will come a day where he’ll pour his cereal and be out of the door before I can say “good morning” to him. And those days are approaching much, MUCH faster than I ever thought they would. So when he asks for one more book as my eyes are closing, wants to lay down with me in the middle of the night, or wakes me at the crack of dawn asking for his cereal and chocolate milk, I remind myself that these days are becoming fewer and fewer and soon, they’ll disappear completely, so I embrace them while I can.    

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