Hi, my name is Jackie Nastri Bardenwerper, and I am so excited to be a new contributor for Fairfield County Mom. I live in Fairfield, CT with my husband Tad and three kids – Cecilia (8), Robert (5), and Willa (3). I have called Connecticut home for most of my life, having grown up in Orange, and spent several years in Stamford.
After falling in love with its beautiful beaches, quaint downtown, and welcoming community, my husband and I moved to Fairfield. It didn’t hurt that Fairfield is also my mom’s hometown. Her fond memories of growing up on the coast helped seal the deal.
These days my favorite activities include visiting one of our town’s beaches, walking to our local playground, and going for runs through our neighborhood. And yet, most days are filled with the mundane – school, work, afterschool activities, and my never-ending list of chores. The days are long, and most evenings, I’m exhausted, falling asleep as soon as we get the kids to bed and turn on the TV.
The scramble begins most mornings around 6 a.m. with a little playtime followed by making breakfasts, packing lunches, and getting everyone out the door. My two oldest are in elementary school, and my youngest attends preschool. I am the author of several young adult and middle-grade novels and write from home part-time. Working part-time provides me the flexibility I wanted to chase my own goals while participating in my kids’ daily lives.
However, learning how to balance my career with my kids has been one of the biggest and most unexpected challenges of my life.
Before kids, I worked full-time and wrote at night, publishing my first young adult novel in 2012. After becoming a mom, I quit my job to stay home with my daughter and focus more on my writing.
In my mind, the idea was romantic, pounding away on my computer while my kids played quietly nearby. But in reality, the situation was much, much harder.
My firstborn had colic and rarely slept. My husband’s long hours meant I was usually parenting solo. For seven years, someone was in diapers. Free moments went not to writing but to cleaning and staying organized.
Most evenings, I was so exhausted I could barely see straight, let alone focus on a computer screen. And yet, for many years, I forced myself to do just that. I published two more novels with minimal childcare because I thought as a mom working part-time from home, that was my job – to achieve my goals without taking time away from my kids.
It didn’t help that much of the imagery I saw on motherhood supported this notion, especially on social media. My feed constantly showcased moms who rocked awesome careers and still made gourmet dinners and read bedtime stories. Moms who lost all the baby weight in weeks. Moms who had time to start blogs and businesses and still dress up in the morning. As the years went by, I went from admiring these portrayals to resenting the unrealistic image of motherhood they perpetuated.
My desire to provide a more realistic view of motherhood led me to write about my own experiences. Today I am so honored to share these as a contributor to Fairfield County Mom because Fairfield County Mom gives honest accounts of what being a mom looks like.
I believe it is vital that we share our wins and our vulnerabilities as mothers. That we don’t shy away from showing what motherhood really is – a life-changing journey that is usually fulfilling, often frustrating, and rarely easy.
These days my kids (usually) sleep, I have a babysitter, and I no longer write at night. I give myself grace when the house is a disaster, or I miss a party, or find myself months behind on dental appointments. And I have stopped trying to be the perfect mom. Instead, I’m trying to be the mom my family needs – by playing games and watching dance parties, reviewing homework, and helping navigate friend problems. And by celebrating life’s little successes, like the other day when my kindergartner pointed to a sight word and showed us he could read it.
Because while motherhood is incredibly demanding, my children bring me more joy and a deeper understanding of the world than I ever imagined possible. I am forever grateful for the chance to be their mother. And I hope by sharing some of our journeys, together we can learn to embrace the beauty that comes from living life imperfectly – in the way that is best not for others, but our own families.