Hi, Birmingham Mamas! My name is Katie and I grew up here in the early 90s—the heyday of awesome kids’ snacks (yes to dunkaroos and lunchables!), tamagotchi, and regrettable fashion trends (see picture below).
The city of Birmingham is special to me as my mother’s family immigrated here from Sicily in the early 20th century. My great-grandfather believed in Birmingham’s future and was deeply involved in the community as well as local philanthropic work. Continuing this tradition, both my grandmother and my mom raised us with a firm grasp of how much our city, with its complex history, has grown — and also how much more work still needs to be done. I am so proud to be from this amazing place and excited to be raising my babies here so that they can witness its magic and growth as well!
In 2016, my husband William and I were young professionals living out our busy lives in Silicon Valley. I had my first job right out of graduate school working as a teacher. That March, we found out we were expecting our first child, and by June we had broken our lease, packed up all of our belongings (plus two cats), and started our trek across the country back to Alabama. We knew that the Bay Area was not where we wanted to raise our kids. That October, William and I welcomed our daughter into a home (with a yard) and into a community we adore.
Yet, my first experiences of motherhood were nothing like what I imagined they’d be. Ava was born at 38 weeks and spent two weeks in the NICU. During those early days, Ava taught me one of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far about motherhood: very often things won’t go according to your plan, and that’s okay!
Our son, Otto, was born a mere 14 months later in a mercifully less dramatic fashion. We are now expecting our third child in October.
Motherhood has deeply transformed my capacity for strong emotions. Everything is richer because of my kids. When my two-and-a-half year old tells someone that their behavior is “unassepible” and demands they look her in the eye with an authority that can only be handed down from God, I absolutely cannot contain my glee. When I hear my son’s uproarious, guttural laugh (sometimes after I have just looked at him funny), I am in heaven. Likewise, when either of them is hurt I want so intensely to take away all of their pain and feel everything in their stead. While this is a beautiful experience with a new kind of love, it’s also very much a picture of my greatest struggle in motherhood: finding balance.
As a working mom, I felt I wasn’t present enough for my kids. Now that I am a stay-at-home mom, I fear I’m not doing enough outside of them. When one of them has a tantrum and I raise my voice, I wonder — did I react too harshly? On a day when both of my toddlers seem to forget that I’m the parent (so many of our days!), I worry that I’ve been too gentle with them. If, one summer, we attend a string of weddings and birthdays, which amounts to weeks in a row of cake, I wonder if they’re getting addicted to sugar . . . okay, that one is definitely true. Much of the time, all of these areas of balance seem impossible to get right. In these early years, we are putting one foot in front of the other trying to make it through each day with as much joy and gratitude as possible!
During graduate school I struggled to find a creative outlet. I felt trapped in the drudgery of library solitude and pedantic conversations. So, I started cooking again and writing about it. Now that Ava is old enough to participate, I’ve introduced her to this adventure and I am excited to share our successes (and failures) with all of you. We absolutely love exploring Birmingham’s local markets for ingredients, trying new foods, and getting messy in the kitchen. We are thrilled to be part of this community of moms!