Mothergood Feature: Kathleen Wallach, MBA + Stay-At-Home-Mom
1. Tell us about your background and a little bit about who you are?
After earning a liberal arts degree in the Midwest, I worked in finance for a few years before pursuing my MBA in my hometown of Pittsburgh. My first son was born three days before graduation, and I still walked (painfully and slowly) across stage to get my diploma! From there, I walked away from a job offer in financial services consulting to take a position as a full-time stay-at-home mom. Fast forward four years, and I’m cruising the grocery store aisles with the big race car cart holding my four boys, ages 4, 3, 2, and 6 months, and getting all the stares and comments.
2. What do you find most fulfilling about motherhood? the most challenging?
Having so many boys so very close together has forced me to “trim the fat.” Let me explain! When you are chasing after little ones and trying very hard to prevent head injuries (because boys!), you don’t have as much time to focus on things that don’t really matter. I am a type-a, perfectionist, over-achiever at heart, and the tendency I have to create unattainably high standards is beautifully hampered by my brood of handsome boys. I truly believe that God blessed me with my boys to show me, the queen of life planning, that it’s actually His plan.
One thing that brings me great joy in the midst of our sometimes crazy days is to witness sibling interactions. Today my 3 year old bumped his head, and I heard my four year old ask him if he needed a kiss to make it feel better. Yesterday, my two year old danced and jumped around with the sole intention of making the baby laugh (which he did, of course!). When my 3 year old walked up from the basement with one of the new superhero costumes, and asked me to make sure the 2 year old got it when he woke up from his nap, my heart smiled. Seeing these bonds grow between my boys is one of the greatest gifts I’ve been given as a mom, and it fuels my fire to wake up each day and “begin again.”
The hardest part about staying home with 4 boys four and under is that I’m choosing not to pursue a full-time career right now. Whilst my husband, siblings, MBA classmates, and most of my friends are advancing in their chosen fields, I’ve chosen a different path. I remind myself on a daily basis that, “children are not a distraction from more important work, they are the most important work.” The opportunity to shape their hearts and minds is one that I don’t take lightly, and I’m grateful for the chance to be with my boys all day.
3. What does motherhood look like for your right now? what do you love about where you are? what would you change?
Right now, motherhood for me is all about instilling virtues in my children while also trying desperately to be a good person to emulate. With four pairs of eyes following my every move, I cannot afford to lose my temper because I immediately see that behavior repeated back to me. Right now, because only my four year old goes to school for 2 hours a day, my children are the truest reflection of myself, for better or worse.
To that end, I’ve found that the best way to keep my cool and maintain peace in our home is by filling our days with things that bring us joy and stretch our imaginations. For us, the biggest part of that is reading all day every day, whenever possible. We pass ours days with books, crafts, music, friends, coloring, magna-tiles, Legos, baking, laundry, cooking, cleaning, swimming, skiing, dress-up, and as much outdoor time as we can. Our kids don’t have any screen time, but we do have lots of praying in the car, and we practice gratitude as often as we can each day.
As a mom, one thing I’ve been working hard to change lately is my own attitude when my children are being children, and not the perfect little miniature adults I wrongly expect them to be. I’ve been trying to recognize my triggers (yelling is a big one for me!), and respond with love by demonstrating an appropriate mature reaction instead of by acting like a kid myself. This is easy to talk about, but much harder for me to put into action on a daily basis!
4. How have you incorporated motherhood into your identity without losing your own individuality?
I think for me, motherhood is my identity right now! The way I mother my children is my current expression of my individuality. Because I get to choose every single thing my children do each day, I see the full illustration of my personality through the books we read, the things we discuss, and how we spend our days. On a personal level, I maintain my own individuality by putting my relationship with my husband first. I learned about this in my marriage preparation class, but I never fully understood how important it was until I had kids!
5. What advice would you give women who are considering/desiring motherhood?
My advice is to have kids as young as you can. Looking back, I only wish I had started earlier so I could have even more kids!