Kristen Glosserman | Another Mother Her Way

If you live in the Flatiron neighborhood in New York, it's hard not to know Kristen Glosserman.  She's the unofficial mayor and well suited for it with a positivity and generosity that draws community toward her.  She's also a mother of four, the oldest of which was born ten years ago on the same night as the opening party of her and her husbands' first much-loved restaurant, Hill Country Barbecue Market.  Kristen looks back on her own choice to prioritize her role as a mother and wife and only more recently, as her youngest started school, choose to dial back up in her practice of possibility coaching with a specific interest in positive discipline.  I get the luxury of sitting down with her once in a while and always feel more clear and energized after that time together so I'm thrilled to share her energy, honesty, and awareness below.

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Q  HOW DID YOU CHANGE AFTER BECOMING A MOTHER?

I’d say motherhood made me a happier person. Once my son Austin was born, I truly felt a completion in my life that I had never felt before. I had always wanted to be a mother, had dreamt about becoming a mother. I’ve always been big into visualization, and always saw myself with a large family. So I knew that I was destined for motherhood. But before my son was born, I suffered two miscarriages and became really depressed. I started thinking, what if this is not my path? Then my son arrived—two weeks early—and with him came this amazing breath of hope and possibility and purpose. Everything started coming together for me, and from that point on, I knew my direction was right on point. Plus, Austin was born June 1, 2007: the opening night of Hill Country, the restaurant my husband and I started. Marc and I missed the opening of our own restaurant! That was particularly symbolic: Right there, we were reminded of our priorities. We had so much early success with Hill Country that we always look at Austin as our good luck charm, and his birthday as a very auspicious day. Then I became pregnant again: I was three months along at my son’s first birthday. It was really meaningful—we were well on our way to being the big family I’d always dreamt about.

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

When my son was born, my coaching practice was up and running, and I was able to maintain my clients pretty regularly. Austin was a bit early, but aside from an emergency C-section, I had a normal healthy birth. It wasn’t until we had our second child that I had to make a major choice. With my daughter Skye, I went into spontaneous, premature labor; she arrived two months early. Skye was due Christmas weekend, but she was born October 23, and she was so tiny, at just three and a half pounds. There were many weeks in the hospital’s NIC (neonatal intensive care) unit, where I saw babies struggling and parents in despair… it was a very challenging time. We were so lucky our Skye had no serious complications, and we were able to bring her home the day before Thanksgiving. I remember being so grateful that she was coming home, and we could celebrate the holiday as a family. The nurse we had planned to work with was unavailable because we were so early. I decided not to find a backup, and to take a break from my coaching practice: I was going to stay home for at least a year, to focus on getting my newborn healthy and be really present for her and her brother. With a preemie and a 16-month-old, I felt that was the moment for me to just put my career on pause. Would I make that choice again? Absolutely. In my mind, it was exactly what I was supposed to do.

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

AFFECTIONATE: I’m always hugging and kissing and loving and smooching!

FIRM: I’m firm with my kids, and I believe parents should be firm.

ENERGETIC: I’m always moving, doing, dancing, throwing the football, running around the park… I enjoy being an active mother, and hopefully I’m modeling that for my kids.

As for the mother I would like to be, I’d like to be a role model: someone my kids can look up to and learn from; a person they can always talk to and trust. I want our home to be one that’s always filled with love and happiness—a place where my children feel safe, a place they can be proud to bring their friends for a visit. Every day brings a new opportunity to be a person I hope my children can look up to. When I see my children taking care of each other—those are the happiest, proudest moments. The other night, before bedtime, my two eldest were chatting with me; the little ones were already in bed. Suddenly, Austin, Skye, and I heard the younger ones giggling and horsing around. I sighed and started getting up to go in there. My son turned to me and said, “Mom, you’re tired—I’ve got this.” I wanted to melt into the bed, I love him so much! He went to his sisters’ room and didn’t come out for ten minutes until they were sound asleep. Seeing your kids step up and take responsibility—especially to help others—is so incredibly meaningful.

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Q  HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF OUTSIDE OF MOTHERHOOD?

I spend a lot of time taking care of myself: I am all about self-care. One of my early role models was Cheryl Richardson, one of the first professionally acclaimed life coaches, and self-care was her platform. What I took from that is, if we don't take care of ourselves, we can't be our best version for others. Good self-care also sets a great example for our children. So, I’ve always eaten healthy, exercised, and made time for the things that I love doing: yoga, dancing, cooking, hosting friends at home or at our restaurant, Hill Country. And weekly date nights with my husband, our tradition for 10-plus years. It’s all part of Project ME. In my coaching practice, I offer a package called Project ME, because I’ve observed that too many women de-prioritize themselves, and they wind up going last in line, after their house, their career, their kids. I really encourage my clients to take time for Project ME—to make sure they’re doing what fires THEM up, so they can deliver that same passion to the people around them, at home and at work.

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

Thank goodness for Team Glosserman—we are officially a team, and we have the sweatshirts to prove it! With four children, I am fortunate to have reliable people I can count on: a caregiver seven days a week (two women share the position) and a babysitter on Saturday nights. I also have a “runner” who sometimes works for just one to four hours: an extra person to help me shuttle the kids around town, usually a grad student who either has a light load or is between semesters. That’s a logistical necessity when you have three or more kids, for those times when, say, two of them have to be on different sides of town, while the other two have to come home. Marc and I share a “chief of staff” who keeps our electronic life and registrations in order, and keeps our calendars in sync. I use a company called Dwell Well for clearing out storage units, moving furniture, and so on—they’ve been like a third arm in my home. My two amazing yoga teachers have worked with me for several years to help me keep my mind and body in balance. And, last but not least, our emotional support system: our wonderful friends and family.

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

I am always working on myself! For me, knowing that I’m working toward something is key to staying alive. One of the things I’ve been working toward for the past year—ever since completing my study of Positive Discipline —is letting go of the idea of perfection. This has been so helpful. Positive discipline reminds us that there is no such thing as the “perfect” parent. It lets you ease up on yourself when you have one of those bad days—and we ALL have them, when we fly off the edge a bit and yell at our kids. I’m working really hard on trying to stay more centered through those times, instead of reacting. I have a child who’s very reactive; I see how quickly she flies off, and I know that she gets a lot of that from me. But I don’t want my kids freaking out when they’re faced with setbacks and disappointments; I want them to react appropriately. This is why I’m working on those coping skills in myself, so I can model them for my children.