This week we’re excited to introduce mom-extraordinaire, Merri W. Merri was born and raised in the burbs of Philadelphia and moved to Charlotte in ‘98 to work for “the Bank”. She still works full time and is busy raising her son Aidan who just turned 4. Whenever she’s not at work, she’s with Aidan … whether at sports clinics, going to the movies, riding bikes, playing in the park, the Children’s Theater, or spending time with other kids/families – they are together. What makes Merri so special? She does this all by herself … well not exactly. Merri may be a single mom but she has an amazing network of family and friends to help her out. Let’s get to know Merri:
Being a single mom must be really challenging – how do you keep yourself grounded?
One day at a time. I’ve been a single parent from the beginning and while it would have been easy to pack up, leave Charlotte and head back to Pennsylvania; I stayed. I have also worked hard to live in the present and not get overwhelmed but the daunting task of doing everything.
I surround myself with amazing friends who would move mountains for Aidan. I admit that I am not good at asking for help; but I have gotten better. My closest friends would tell you that I have a long way to go!!!
Aidan and I travel to Pennsylvania quite often to visit my family. They cherish the time with Aidan and I am able to sleep until 8am! I am fortunate to have a career which allows such flexibility.
How do you find the right balance between taking care of a 4-year old, all the household activities and working a full time job?
I have found out that no matter how determined I am, there are some jobs that are best suited for the professionals; such as lawn care, plumbing and appliance repair. There is only so much one girl can take on herself!
When it comes to housework I am most efficient when I divide and conquer the chores over a few days. Aidan is of the age where being “mom’s helper” is important. We’ll do some of the chores together; like laundry. Aidan helps push the clothes into the dryer and while it usually slows down the process, these are times when I have to stop and realize that efficiency is no longer the objective.
I also have super neighbors who will a) come out at night, in the rain, to check out the loud sounds in my front yard, b) bring up my trash can from the curb EVERY week, c) check in on us when the car is in the driveway during the week unexpectedly, and let me call them at 4am to take me to the hospital when my water broke! (for a planner, this one caught me by surprise)
What is a typical morning like in your household?
The morning is the biggest challenge of my day. No matter how hard I try to get out of bed before Aidan, he always (always) beats me to it. I set my alarm every night and Aidan somehow knows to wake before it goes off. He is immediately hungry the second he is awake. Some days, he isn’t out of bed and is already talking about food. I make breakfast – fruit, cereal, frozen waffles, and/or yogurt. Aidan watches Noggin with his breakfast. At this point, he is still in his PJs. I get ready for work all the while talking to Aidan along the way asking him how is breakfast, what is he doing, how is his “big boy tv”, etc. It is our way of being connected when we’re in two different rooms. I have also learned to get ready in 20 minutes, including my shower.
It is now Aidan’s turn to get ready and the WWF match begins. I have given up trying to get him dressed in his room, but will bring his clothes into the den, get changed, grab the last bit of his breakfast for the car ride and out the door.
On a good day this can all happen in 45 minutes but it has taken a long time, lots of repetition, patience I didn’t know I had, and the strength to get up each day and do it again.
What is the funniest thing Aidan has ever said to you or ever done?
Sweeter than funny but one day I said “Aidan, you are my best boy.” And he replied with “Mommy, you are my best girl.”
What is your favorite family activity?
We do a lot together and I even have weekend activities planned in mid 2009. I am a planner and that is also a critical trait for the life we have. Routine is important so that we stay focused
Favorite “mommy time” activity?
In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that I was stumped on this one. I even got a little choked up and then frustrated because I didn’t have an answer. I still don’t have an answer days after first reading this question. I suppose this is an eye opener that to be the best mother possible, I must remember to do for me. To keep the record straight, it isn’t because of guilt but rather due to the fact that I enjoy learning about my little guy, teaching him about the world and watching the wonder in his eyes when he experiences life.
Favorite place to eat dinner out?
With Aidan – Saturday lunch at Roly Poly and Tuesday night at Wolfman pizza; however I’m still looking for a pizza I had growing up and I still enjoy when I visit home. There is always my friend’s house where Aidan runs around with up to five “kids” ranging from 12 to college-aged.
Kid-free, splurge restaurants would have to be Bonterra and DelFresco’s.
Favorite weekend escape?
Home. Sure we’re at home during the week but it feels like we only sleep and then we’re back to the grind again. The weekend time, or as Aidan calls it “home days”, is our time to cuddle in the morning, play cars and have quality time at the table over a meal.
Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?
I am pretty basic when it comes to clothes for Aidan and since boys are tough on their clothes I’d have to say Target. I do splurge at holidays for dress clothes and go to Janie and Jack or Nordstrom’s – who can resist? I am also grateful to my friends with older boys who pass down clothes. The best part is being able to do the same for my friends when Aidan out grows them.
Best birthday you’ve attended?
Birthdays are very important to me so I usually have a spectacular cake and a home birthday party. However this year I decided to have Aidan’s birthday outside of the home. I have to admit that coming home to a clean house after perfectly organized chaos was much needed.
Best thing about raising a family in Charlotte?
Charlotte is an easy city to live and work. I’m very fortunate to have an opportunity for Aidan to attend a fantastic Preschool which is very close to my office. I can join him for lunch, read books to the kids and this allows me to get to know the other children – Aidan’s friends. I’m a believer in getting to know your children’s friends, no matter their age. It will pay off one day in the teenage years (I hope) …
Best kept secret in Charlotte?
I know of none but would love for other parents to share them here! Add a comment and tell me … tell us all. I rely on CSP for most of my information!
I could not live without my…
Pediatrician!!! Dr. Laura Pridemore kept my head on straight in those early days of becoming a parent, nursing, living through sleep deprivation and now helping me survive sassy behavior.
My must-have item for a pre-schooler is….
Our DVD player in the car for long trips. I’m not a big fan of having it in the car for ‘round the town but for 2+ hour trips this has become essential. I would rather talk to Aidan to learn about his day and sing songs together … I’m lucky he likes Mom’s music because I won’t compromise on music. He’ll be better for it one day. 🙂
Thanks, Merri for sharing your story! I think we could all learn a little something from you and I know Aidan will appreciate all you’ve done for him over the years.
P.S. Don’t forget to register for the Paper Twist Smarty Giveaway:
Paper Twist is giving one lucky Smarty the perfect mommy package, valued at $195. You’ll be organized, dressed in a sassy tee and ready to send out a darling thank-you note from you and your precious child. Click here to enter – contest ends at 11pm on Wednesday, 12/17.