Olivia Metzger | Another Mother Her Way

Even though Olivia Metzger and I have family friends in common (actually this previous Another Mother Her Way), I found myself a tad intimidated getting on the phone.  Before being personally introduced, I knew Olivia as @livviejane, beloved in the Instagram mother community for the little square windows into her sweet life in Chicago with her two boys.  Luckily for me, more sweetly, she has a thoughtful and honest sensibility that comes through immediately in real life. Before Olivia embraced motherhood in a way many admire, she was getting her Masters at Northwestern following starting a career in education in New York after her undergraduate years at Yale.  She is as wonderfully open below as she was with me, about relaxing the expectations on herself to focus this time on raising Carter and Hank, keeping herself in the game through flexible work in a therapy practice and caring for herself through connection and creativity, Instagram included. 

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HOW DID YOU CHANGE AFTER BECOMING A MOTHER?

Motherhood changed my whole perspective in so many ways. It made me a more flexible person and actually helped me feel less anxious overall. It sounds strange but having two little boys taught me that there is very little that I actually have control over. I learned to manage what I can and not to worry about the rest. That was a very freeing idea for me.

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WHAT CHOICES DID YOU MAKE TO ACCOMMODATE MOTHERHOOD?  WOULD YOU MAKE THEM AGAIN?

The biggest choice I made to accommodate motherhood was putting my career on hold. My first son, Carter, was born a few weeks before I graduated with a Masters in Counseling Psychology. I had planned to take a couple months with my new baby and then look for full-time work as a therapist. Little did I know how demanding and all-consuming having a newborn would be. It was also a really special time and I wanted to savor it. My husband and I discussed my taking some time away from work to focus on motherhood and it felt like a good fit for our family. It wasn’t until Carter was 18-months- old that I made the decision to go back to work part-time. I
was lucky to join a therapy practice that has allowed me to be flexible with my schedule so that I can be home for most of the week while still keeping my foot in the door at work. I’d make this choice again in a heartbeat.

DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS A MOTHER IN 3 WORDS.  WHAT KIND OF MOTHER WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE?

Understanding, nurturing, and playful. Understanding because I try to meet my kids where they are and not impose too many expectations on them. Nurturing because I want them to feel valued and unconditionally loved for exactly who they are. Playful because I genuinely enjoy sitting on the floor and building with blocks, painting, or swinging at the park. I want to be the type of mother that models for her kids how to treat others with kindness and respect and who supports her kids in following their interests and becoming who they wish to be.

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HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF OUTSIDE OF MOTHERHOOD? 

My self-care has certainly suffered since becoming a mother but I’ve learned that if I don’t look after myself, I can’t be as good a mother to my boys. My outlets these days are getting outside for a run or walk, taking photos, meeting friends for coffee, and learning something new. Right now I’m interested in learning more about photography and interior design.

EVERY MOTHER NEEDS HELP TO FIND BALANCE.  WHAT DOES YOUR VILLAGE LOOK LIKE? 

My village is made up of my husband and parents. When he isn’t traveling for work, my husband works from home as much as possible. If his schedule allows he’ll jump in during the day to change a diaper or eat lunch with the boys. It’s such a treat having him around. We’re also very lucky that my parents live around the block. They have the boys over when I go to work and my kids adore spending time with them. I’ve loved watching the boys develop such a special relationship with Grammy and Grampy.

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WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON IMPROVING ABOUT YOURSELF AS A WOMAN & A MOTHER? 

Since the New Year has just arrived this question is in the forefront of my mind. One thing I’m striving for right now is doing things with intention. It’s so easy to fall into habit and go about the day on autopilot but this year I’d like to have more mindfulness and purpose behind my actions and words.