“That’s why I think our marriage is so strong; we’ve been through a lot in a short amount of time and even though we’ve been together for 16 years, we made it through the last 3 with more love and admiration for one another,” Maria said of the relationship with her college sweetheart turned husband, Mike. Maria was an easy choice for one of our first customer interviews. She has been an unfaltering Petit Peony customer since she first discovered the brand ten months ago. And, it’s a wonder she ever has time to shop. Maria and Mike commute full-time to New York City while they are simultaneously raising a 3 year-old daughter, Emily, and twin year-old boys, Andrew and Luke.
Kim: You are BUSY. What do you do to make sure your marriage of seven years doesn’t fall apart?
Maria: We try our hardest to spend time with each other each day, whether it’s commuting in together and taking a later train so we can sit next to one another or eating together after the kids have gone to sleep and really asking how the other is doing, without mentioning the kids if possible! We have tried for date night once a month, but we are just getting into a groove of the boys sleeping through the night, so maybe that will be more achievable as time goes on ☺
Kim: Work, babies, marriage. What do you do to keep yourself sane?
Maria: Sleep, if I can get it. I’m fortunate enough to have worked alongside people who have become close friends, so in some ways, going to work is a break for me. I can talk to other adults, focus on being productive so I can get out of the door to make my train, and eat lunch daily. I know it seems silly, but when I am home on Fridays with the kids it’s amazing, but it’s non-stop and it’s so physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting that I am way more tired on Fridays then I am most days I am commuting. If I do have time, I LOVE Pure Barre. I grew up dancing for 16 years, so barre is a workout I can relate to. I also love to cook and try new recipes when I have time, although nowadays I find meals that I can cook ahead and reheat since the week is busy and we often don’t get to have dinner until 8:30PM. When we renovated our house, the kitchen was the focal point; we spend most of our time in this area. We always host Thanksgiving and I look forward to it every year: the shopping, the prep, the cooking, the family and the wine.
Kim: What’s a tip you can offer to other moms who work full-time?
Maria: Take help! We are lucky enough to live close by to family (3 retired grandparents) and we rely on them so much for help with child care. And also, do what you can and don’t feel guilty; it’s hard, but there are only so many hours in a day. When you are working, be at work and when you are home, really focus on being there and the quality of the time, not the quantity.
Kim: Do you ever envy stay at home moms?
Maria: Yes. They get to see and experience the "firsts." I remember someone at work told me it happens for the first time (crawling, walking, babbling, etc) when you see it, but I wish I could really be there for those experiences. But, I think it's truly the hardest job to be home with your kids all day, stimulating them, educating them, training them, feeding them, keeping your house from being a disaster and maybe even squeezing in a yogurt to eat for yourself if you have time.
Kim: Have you found that there is a certain type of moms with whom you connect? What draws you to them? Is there a type of mom with whom you have trouble connecting?
Maria: Most of my good friends and I all had kids within the same year, so I think we’ve been lucky to grow together as we have been going through similar experiences. I guess I find it hard to make new friends because I’m not the one picking my kids up at daycare and when I drop them off, many times they are the first. Fortunately, we’ve become close with two sets of our neighbors.
Kim: What has been your hardest moment or phase of motherhood?
Maria: Having my kids in the NICU. My daughter Emily was in the NICU because I developed preeclampsia at 28 weeks. I was able to stretch to 30w4d but then I got really sick with preeclampsia and HELP Syndrome (that thing I definitely skipped over reading in the "What to Expect Book”). The NICU was something that I new nothing about and it never occurred to me that we would go through the experience, but going through it twice was really hard. It was tough the first time because it was all so new and scary and we were first time parents. After my experience with Emily, when I found out I was having the boys (complete shock!) I was simultaneously laughing and crying because I knew the odds of going early again and having Pre E again we're higher. It was even tougher the second time because the boys were growth restricted (born @ 1.14 and 1.10), I was in the hospital for a month prior to delivery at 28 weeks and I had to be away from my daughter and my husband, who managed like a champ through it all! Then we had to juggle time with Emily, work, and driving into the city daily to spend time with Andrew and Luke. Seeing your babies hooked up to monitors, learning how to breathe and eat, praying each day that they are gaining weight steadily so you can take them home and not being able to leave the hospital with your babies- that was tough.
Kim: What originally drew you to Petit Peony? What type of emotions do you feel when you see a new style?
Maria: I love the whimsical nature of Petit Peony. I love that when I dress Emily in it, she’s the only one wearing it and it just captures her spirit. It’s preppy and put together, and it’s easy. I get excited when I see new dresses and almost immediately purchase things (sometimes I do). I also love buying Petit Peony dresses for special occasions because I feel like they are one of a kind. I had Emily’s birthday dress personalized and we received so many compliments; I only wish she would stay small so she could wear it again and again.
I wrote Maria back immediately after reading her blog answers. We have framed the blog as a forum for women to share their raw experiences and connect on an intimate level. I felt an instant connection to Maria after reading about her trying pregnancies and her babies’ stays in the NICU. My first son was a “NICU baby” and I was also on bedrest for weeks during my second pregnancy. Like Maria, I never envisioned complicated pregnancies when my husband and I first decided to have children. Hearing other women’s similar stories was so important to me as I navigated the early years with a preemie and continued on with two more high risk pregnancies. Motherhood is a unique journey for us all, but the similar experiences moms share bind us together and help us steer through this crazy time in our lives! We hope that through our continued customer spotlights, each reader will see a bit of their own journey emerge.