Motherhood in Simsbury

A Q&A on parenting, children, and life with my friend and artist Jaime!

Traveling from Memphis in the Mid-South, the Q&A series takes a stop in Simsbury on the East Coast to chat with my good friend Jaime. She is the most genuine, honest, and charming person I know! Jaime’s also such an inspiration, as she balances parenting responsibilities with a blossoming career as an artist. And she’s incredibly talented! Check out her artwork on her website, or on Instagram: @JaimeDenisArt.

Jaime lives in Simsbury, CT with her husband and two children. As with all my Q&As, I hope this is enjoyable to read and also highlights a meaningful perspective on parenting.

A big, heartfelt thank you to Jaime!

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

Jaime: I’m Jaime! I have two kids – a daughter who is 10 years old and a son who is 4 years old. And they started back at school in January after having been at home since last year, so that’s been good!

Since you mentioned school, how have you handled school and extracurricular activities for your children during the Coronavirus era?

We actually didn’t do any activities once COVID started. My daughter was doing gymnastics before, but we stopped doing that. We haven’t really gone back to any indoor activities yet. Now that more people are getting vaccinated, we’ll be approaching a point where we will start to feel more comfortable.

As far as school, at first they did a hybrid learning model. But we felt that it would be a lot of back-and-forth – keeping tabs on which day you’re in-person and which day you’re remote. And the in-person would change if COVID cases appeared at school. Our daughter does better with consistency, so we decided to enroll her in the distance-learning only option and she was happy with that. But it was definitely harder for her to be as involved academically, and get all the extra help she needed.

At the start of this school year, we wanted to watch the schools first before we started her back in-person. Just see what would happen and if there were a lot of COVID cases at school. Our son, however, really wanted to go back to school in-person. He is very social and needs a lot of stimulation. When we told our daughter that he was going to go back to school in-person, she wanted to go back too! So they went back to school in-person around the same time. Our daughter has been really happy being back, seeing her friends, and playing at recess. She’s thriving now and really loves school.

What’s it like living in Simsbury?

I love where we live! There’s a very strong sense of community, and it’s centered around kids. There are a lot of parks and other things for children to do. The school district is really great – it’s why we moved here. But we didn’t realize all the other perks of living in Simsbury. So we’ve been really happy here!

The one thing that we don’t love about where we live is that there is a very strong bear presence. We’ve had bears in our yard so many times now. And they come when we are outside playing, so you can’t let the kids go outside and play alone because you have to keep an eye on the woods. Generally, they just walk on by. But you don’t want to take the chance. It’s still scary. They’re huge!

Being a mom of two means you don’t have much free time. If you had more free time, what would you do?

I would do more painting. I’ve always loved art – seeing art, creating art…just being a part of that whole world!

I always wanted to go to art school, but my parents weren’t thrilled with that idea. So I had to go in a different direction. I did a little painting here and there, and I did get my bachelor’s degree in art so I was able to take some painting classes for that. Then I kind of got out of painting for a long time, especially after my daughter was born. I was doing oil painting at the time, which involves chemicals you don’t want around a young child. So I couldn’t paint in the house anymore.

Years passed, and I got together with my husband and we had our son. I was planning on going back to work about three years after we had him – that had always been our plan. But when the three years came up, I had been thinking about painting and art as a career. I really wanted to take this opportunity to see what I could do as an artist, and spend a little bit of time seeing if I could make this work as a career because it had been a lifelong dream. “If I don’t do this now, when will I?” I told myself.

So once my son started preschool, I took several art classes and turned one of the rooms in our house into an art studio. I started painting again – experimenting and trying new things – and I just love it! I am so fortunate to have a husband who fully supports and encourages my artistic goals. Without his support, I’d never have had the courage to pursue this dream.

I did switch to acrylic paints because they’re safer than oil paints. It’s a big learning curve – going from oils to acrylics – because they’re a lot harder to manipulate. I would like to go back to oils at some point. As far as what I paint, I really like painting nature – trees, landscapes, birds, and flowers. I find nature really inspiring! And as far as my style, I’m still experimenting with different styles, so I’m a bit all over the place!

How do you and your husband make time for each other?

It was really hard during COVID. After the kids were in bed, our downtime was getting in front of the TV and watching something we really liked together.

In general, we love going out to dinner. There’s something about getting out of the house and sitting across from each other with no house distractions. At home, you’re always thinking about everything you have to do and it can be hard to focus on the other person. Getting out of the house lets you do that!

Now that our parents are vaccinated, we’re probably going to have them watch the kids so we can go out and do something – just the two of us.

There’s not a lot that’s easy about parenting, but what do you find easy or what comes naturally to you?

The thing I try really hard to focus on is listening to my children’s needs. Emotionally, especially. I want my children know that they can come to me with anything – there’s no judgement, no expectations. Just that I’m there for them.

What do you find hard about parenting, or what would you like to get better at?

There are a lot of things, so it’s hard to pick and choose!

Patience is definitely one. There are a lot of times when it can be tough to be patient. Also not reacting to what my children are doing, or not reacting to their reaction to something.

I would also say getting my children into activities and pushing them to do things with their friends, only because I’m such an introvert. Helping my kids maintain their friendships through other parents is really difficult for me.

What have you seen your children learn the hard way?

Well they’re definitely still learning it, but how to negotiate friendships. And also how to deal with all the different personalities of other kids at school. My daughter is in the thick of this right now.

What child/parenting milestone are you most excited to reach?

I’m pretty happy with a lot of the milestones we’ve already gone through, but going to the bathroom on their own – that was huge! My son can just tell me when he has to go, and when he says he doesn’t have to go I know that he means it. I don’t have to stress about being in the car for a certain amount of time. That was big.

Also when they don’t need baths anymore and can shower on their own. My son showers with his dad now, which is fantastic! I liked bath time, but sometimes it was exhausting.

When they get older and eventually leave the house – when they’re not here and I can’t see them and tend to their needs – I’m just going to worry about them far more!

What is the craziest/funniest thing your children have said?

My son: Dada, a long time ago, there weren’t people around with the dinosaurs. So before there were people, how were people around when there was no one to grow them in their bellies?

What’s your favorite song to sing to your children?

My favorite song to sing has always been Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I’m not sure if I’m singing it with the right words – I kind of made up my own version at some point when my daughter was little and it just stuck. She’ll still ask for me to sing it to her at night sometimes, which is nice!

What’s your favorite book to read to your children?

There are a lot of good books, but I would say The Going-To-Bed Book by Sandra Boynton. That’s probably my favorite to read. It’s just cute!

When you are old, what parenting story will you share with your children?

There was the time my daughter accidentally locked herself in a bathroom. I didn’t know what to do, so I called 911!

Or the time I was coming home with my son and I realized that I forgot the house key, just as he fell and started bleeding and crying. Naturally, I did what any sane mom would do in that situation and kicked the door in. It’s still not completely fixed. Zero regrets!

How is your parenting style different from and/or similar to that of your parents?

I don’t know if I have the best relationship with my parents. They were very authoritarian and the “do as I say” type of parents. Their motto was, “Children should be seen, not heard.” That was repeated very often. So I try to be the absolute opposite of that. But it’s very hard because I think part of how you’re raised gets ingrained in you and that’s what starts to feel natural. So you have to fight against that inclination.

I do share their views on how money should be managed within a marriage – what’s mine is yours. And also trying to show love through gifts. I definitely struggle to limit my gifting. But I also make sure there are lots of other ways I show my love, such as using the actual words “I love you” daily. My kids are going to be of so sick of hearing it, but at least they won’t forget it!

What’s the title of your life biography so far?

Those Lemons Made Some Amazing Lemonade

So corny, but I’ll change it a hundred times if you let me!

What’s the perfect end to your day?

My favorite part of the day is getting into bed at the end of the day, and just being able to shut it down.

What are your family’s favorite ice cream flavors?

My son: Mint Chocolate Chip.

My husband: Vanilla, with sprinkles. It’s gotta have sprinkles!

My daughter: Cookie Dough, Butter Crunch, and anything with caramel. She has my taste.

Me: Butter Crunch.

Would you rather…go bungee jumping or skydiving?

Oh god! Neither!

If I had to choose one, probably skydiving. But neither – I have no desire to do either of those things!

What advice do you have for other parents?

Well, I’m not sure other parents want advice!

I would say listen to your instincts and your gut more than anything or anyone else. You know your kids the best and know what’s best for them.

Thank you, Jaime!

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

And don’t forget to check out her paintings and artwork on her website, and be sure to follow her on Instagram: @JaimeDenisArt.

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