10 minutes with...Melinda Eriksen
This week, our Mama-in-Chief Lauren has been chatting to Melinda Eriksen. Melinda took part in a research project recently conducted by The Parenting Chapter and caught the attention of Lauren when she raised the obvious and hugely important point, that parenting courses must be something that both heterosexual and same-sex parents can relate to. Melinda is married to Svenique and they are mothers to four girls; twins who are 17 months, a 3 year old and a 5 year old. Svenique is a secondary school teacher and Melinda is a Paediatric Occupational Therapist. Melinda was asked to complete '10 minutes with...' for the Parenting Chapter in the hope that she could provide some insight into their experience as same-sex parents.
Melinda says, "I was really keen to participate in this with The Parenting Chapter and hoped that it would be an opportunity to provide a snapshot for others about the family life of same-sex parents. Funnily enough, as I read the questions, I started to worry that I couldn't help on this front and realised that families, whatever their make-up, are all going through the same things.
We worry that we're doing the best we can for our kids; we worry about little things like a sniffle or grazed knees. We're going crazy trying to keep up with household jobs, school runs, play dates and activities and on top of that we're running a business. We have arguments and we make up, and mostly, we laugh and play and act crazy as much as we can while trying to remember every moment as our girls grow up way too quickly.
It was rather nice to confirm what I've been trying to tell others ever since we started planning a family - we're really just the same as anyone else."
Here are Melinda's wonderful answers to the 10 questions:
Parenting is... An unintentional reinvention of yourself. Once you've had kids you will always be a mother and that changes you in a way you can never explain.
Go-to website for those 3am feeding moments? Facebook, purely for social interaction. I've never been one to turn to websites but going through such a life changing experience where you feel so new to everything, you seem to need reaffirmation that a) you're not the only one and b) what your doing/ feeling is right/ normal. I've re-established friendships with girlfriends from 20 years ago and really consolidated friendships with people just because we were pregnant or new parents at the same time. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be many sites for same sex parents which is an area that needs developing. However, post-conception we are all going through the same things so maybe there's not a need for it. We're fortunate enough to have a great group of friends who are same-sex parents and there's no website that can ever replace that for advice and support.
Best advice your own parents gave you? That integrity, respect and kindness isn't something you teach you kids, it is something you show them. It is the sum of your daily actions.
You have 15 minutes of alone time...what would you do? Lie on a bed ALL BY MYSELF and if I can stay awake, read a book.
Best bribery tip for a baby/toddler meltdown? Boob for all of my babies. I have never had a very large arsenal of settling techniques as all our girls were breastfed and I'd just pop them on at any sign of fussiness. My wife however, was able to soothe all of them much better than me as she had to develop more strategies. Yoyo bears for toddlers. I've never met a child that can't be bribed with a Yoyo bear.
What’s the most shameful thing in your nappy bag? I don't even have a nappy bag these days. Numbers 3 & 4 don't get such luxuries. It's nice though, as life feels far less complicated even with 4 children than it did with 1.
Parenting high? Watching my daughters interacting. They care for each other so much and I know they each have 3 best friends for life.
Parenting low? Being so tired I can't even read a book to my girls without dropping off mid sentence.
Dinner date or play date? Definitely dinner date. We give every ounce of ourselves to our children, so it would be nice to give each other a little more.
What’s been your biggest parenting challenge to-date? We are passionate about teaching our children the difference between 'needs' and 'wants' and doing that while many of their friends have rooms full of toys or many material possessions is incredibly difficult.
Big parental shout out to: My wife. Because I'm still breastfeeding the twins, I'm often buried under them all evening. I get to lie with our babies and cuddle while she cleans, tidies, washes and does the laundry never complaining and just knowing that everything we are doing is for our family.