September Mom of the Month

Jennifer with husband Ricki and adorable children Parker and Audrey

The crisp air has made a move here in New England and we are already breaking out the denim Jackets. As summer gives a wave goodbye, we’re giving a warm greeting to our September Mom of the Month.

With it being the big “Back to School” month, I wanted to feature Special Education Compliance Teacher, mom of two, and good friend- Jennifer Schmidt!

I have known Jennifer since 2007 when we both went to college in Richmond, VA. She’s sweet and bubbly with a heart of gold. Jennifer has always been quick to help others and will lend a shoulder to a friend in need anytime, anywhere. I had the pleasure of chatting with her and asking her some questions about being both a mom and a teacher.

Q: How has being a teacher changed the way you parent?

A: Being a teacher has been beneficial because I went into motherhood knowing how drastically different kids progress and develop. As a mom, it is REALLY hard to not compare your kids (especially your first), with your friends kids or kids in daycare. My teaching background has really helped to keep me grounded in knowing that just because my kids hit milestones at different times than others, that is perfectly fine. I know they will get there at their own pace.

Having children has also impacted how I view things as a teacher. For us as educators, we get so wrapped up in the professional knowledge of what a child needs, it becomes routine. Knowing the intensity with which I developed so many hopes and dreams for my children the minute they were put into my arms, has made me more compassionate and careful with how I speak to parents about their children’s needs and abilities.

Q: What has been the most heartwarming interaction between your kiddos?

I LOVE how much they demonstrate a truly raw and simple love for each other. It’s a level of love given that has no expectations behind it. On most nights, Audrey goes to bed before Parker. He always asks to say goodnight to Audrey, and wants to give her a kiss and hug.

He gets up close to her and he looks her in the eyes and says ‘goodnight baby sister’, and she just bursts into this massive sweet smile, and her eyes don’t leave his.”

Then he kisses her on the top of her head, and says he loves her. We don’t ever make him do that, we’ve never asked him to, or shown him to do that. He just does it. He naturally loves her, and it makes me so gooey inside.

Q: What is the most valuable advice you can give to other moms and spouses about IVF?

“IVF is hard, but has the potential to be so worth it.”

Is the mantra you have to grasp onto tightly. It’s the single most emotionally taxing and intense experience I have ever gone through as an individual and as a couple. You have to be 110% understanding, compassionate, and tolerant of how the other has to process through this mass of emotions- while also having to handle your own feelings. You need to rely on each other, through a process that most people can’t even begin to understand. Ignore other peoples expectations, comments, and advice that don’t understand, and just do you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from places that can offer the level of support you need.

Q: How has your life changed since you had your daughter? And what is the biggest difference between what Audrey likes and what Parker liked as an infant?

I always hoped for a son first, but I knew I also wanted a daughter like something fierce. When we finally got pregnant again, I was thrilled to find out we were expecting a girl. I knew I was going to totally embrace the cute tops and dresses, and gosh… ALL the bows! I’m also finding myself so excited to share all those mother daughter moments mothers often look forward to- if she’s willing one day. (Prom dress shopping, helping her navigate love and even heartbreak, wedding dress shopping and wedding planning, etc.)

I’ve also developed this really deep set desire to ensure she understands that self worth goes beyond the pretty dress and makeup; but that her spirit, kindness, and intellect are SO much more important to who she will become.

I want her to have as many blocks and toy dinosaurs as she does dolls.”

She and her brother are night and day when comparing them as infants. Excluding his colic and reflux, Parker was an easy baby. He was happy to just hang out in his swing or play things, and liked to snuggle. Audrey is demanding of attention at all times. She constantly requires close proximity or holding. With that said, Parker was all boy as he got moving. He got into everything, climbed what he could, and energy for days. Audrey, though needing of attention, is calmer and more observant. It’s so crazy to see how simultaneously similar and different they are at each stage.

Parker and Audrey

Q: What has been your proudest moment as a teacher?

I had a student in my early years in middle school who was pretty far behind in reading. Her home life was incredible rocky, and tended to regularly fall apart at the seams. She had to grow up very early, saw things like addiction, and experienced the inability of a parent to care for her while being so young. She had all the cards stacked against her.

Still, she maintained the brightest spirit and the best attitude. She constantly put one foot in front of the other, and didn’t stop trying. Over the years, I kept in touch with her and helped with random educational needs from afar through text and FaceTime.

The day she sent me a picture of her with her high-school degree and picture of her college acceptance letter, I was so proud! I felt so blessed to have had the opportunity to teach her.

Q: What is your favorite fall fashion item?

ALL. THE. SCARVES. I love them. Regular scarves… Infinity scarves… I think I have enough in my closet to match a scarf to every outfit.

Q: If you could only have marshmallow fluff or salted caramel for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

Salted caramel for sure! I only eat fluff in my sno-cones, but salted caramel can go on SO many fabulous things. Most importantly, my favorite – coffee!

Thank you so much Jennifer for chatting with me about your beautiful motherhood journey, and for being a supportive and inspiring teacher!

Be you. Stay Resilient. <3 Mika

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