Motherhood in Memphis

A Q&A on parenting with Bethany, my awesome sister-in-law!

I never had a sister growing up, but my sister-in-law Bethany makes me wish I did! She’s so genuine, charismatic, and fun to be around. Bethany is also a stay-at-home parent like I am, and we often lean on each other for all things parenting (or even just a sympathetic ear). She lives in Memphis, TN with her husband and two children.

This is the first post in a new series where I have Q&As with other parents, and we talk about parenting, children, and life in general. I hope it is enjoyable to read, and also highlights a meaningful perspective on parenting.

A big, heartfelt thank you to Bethany!

Peter: Readers might not know you as well as I do. Can you briefly introduce yourself?

Bethany: Sure! I’m a mother of two (a 3 year old girl and a 6 month old boy) and I’m married to a hard-working husband. I used to be a nurse, and I stay at home raising the kids right now.

What’s it like being a mom in Memphis?

Well, before COVID there were a lot of cool things you could do with children around the city. We often went to the Children’s Museum of Memphis, various parks, and of course the Memphis Zoo (I think our zoo is really cool!). I’ve also made some really good mom-friends here. I guess you could say there is a good mom-community in Memphis.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Memphis?

My friends and family are here. I feel comfortable here. I don’t know if other places are like this because I haven’t really lived anywhere else, but Memphis is very proud of their city and I really like that. The Grizzlies, the BBQ, farmer’s markets – people are supportive of local things.

If you could live anywhere else, where would you choose?

Somewhere with a beach! Maybe Florida.

Did your feelings about being a stay-at-home parent change after your first child was born?

Yea, I definitely had certain conceptions that changed once I had children. For one, I thought I would go back to work. I also find it very difficult to trust other people with my kids.

What’s your biggest pet peeve about other parents?

Mmmm. There are a lot of opinionated parents out there, and they let you know their opinions regardless of whether you want to know them or not. I also don’t like it when other parents judge the decisions you make. I got a lot of criticism about co-sleeping with my daughter. But not just that. People can be quick to judge any decision you make.

Being a parent is hard, so if something works for you then it’s fine. I don’t care if my daughter snacks all day. It just doesn’t bother me. Trying to listen to other parents after my first child was born caused me a lot stress. I often felt like I was doing something wrong and I should be doing something the way other people did it. And that’s not right.

With two young children, how have you stayed sane during the COVID pandemic?

Who said that I’m sane?!

I try to find different things to do with my kids to keep them entertained. Arts and crafts are a big hit with my daughter. As soon as the weather got nicer we started to do more outdoor activities – even if it was just a walk around the neighborhood.

Personally, I’ve also tried to do more things like involve myself in Church and have projects that weren’t kid-related.

How do you feel your fellow Memphis citizens have responded to the COVID pandemic?

Well, very poorly.

They did not – and still do not – want to follow the instructions given to them by medical professionals. And that caused us a lot of problems early on during COVID. We have a lot of people who don’t wear masks even though they’re required. My chiropractor didn’t enforce masks at first (only until wearing a mask was a mandate), so I had to stop going there.

Everybody thinks they’re a professional out here!

Being a stay-at-home parent of two means you don’t have much free time. If you had some more free time, what would you do?

I might sleep. Watch TV. Read a book. Eat a meal sitting down. Basic me stuff!

Something I really want to do is volunteer nursing. That’s really fulfilling and meaningful to me. I wanted to administer COVID vaccinations, but the volunteer shifts didn’t work with my children’s schedules.

What’s something you did before kids that you gave up, but secretly wish you could still do?

Being able to do something without any planning.

Before kids, my husband and I could just go and do what we wanted to do on a whim. Dinner or a trip somewhere – before kids we could just do it. Now, we need to plan and find babysitters and all that.

When children like something, they really like it. What’s something your children like that you can’t stand anymore?

I really don’t like Cocomelon anymore. I know it’s cute and educational, but I can’t stand it anymore! The songs get stuck in your head. I’ll be trying to fall asleep and find myself humming one of their songs. They’re just too catchy!

Describe each of your children in 3 words.

My daughter: funny, smart, and sassy.
My son: happy, loving, and curious.

Parents buy a lot of things for their kids, from diapers to toys. What’s the best and worst purchase you’ve made for your kids?

Well, this is not the worst, but it’s one that has not been used as much as I thought it would: the mamaRoo. My son, in particular, just wasn’t into it.

The best purchase I can think of is specific to the baby stage: the Fisher-Price Snugabunny Cradle and Swing. I’ve had to replace the motor on it twice – both my children loved it.

A close second-best (also specific to the baby stage) is the Baby Einstein Sea Dreams Soother. I move it around room-to-room. It’s really good at capturing a baby’s attention. It has lights, fish that move, and also white noise. It’s awesome.

Who’s messier – your husband or your children?

Oh gosh! Well, when they’re all together, they’re all very messy!

I think my daughter can do the most destruction in the shortest amount of time. She probably wins the messiest contest.

Where’s your family going once COVID travel bans are lifted and air flight is safer?

Well, hopefully we’ll all be vaccinated and be able to see family soon.

As far as big trips, we’re looking forward to going back to Turks and Caicos!

What do you think working parents should know about what it’s like being a stay-at-home parent?

Being a stay-at-home parent is hard. It’s like a job. You’re always busy. It’s not like you’re sitting around watching TV or taking naps all day. A lot of people who work understand that it’s hard, though, and that helps.

What advice do you have for other stay-at-home parents?

I like the general advice of doing what works for you. Don’t stress yourself about strict schedules or “doing things by the book.” Do what’s best for you and your family.

Thank you, Bethany!

Share your thoughts with Bethany by leaving a reply in the comments below!

Read Basil’s interview (Bethany’s husband) here: Fatherhood in Memphis, or browse all interviews here: Interviews.

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