Friday, September 27, 2013

The Having It All Project: Jeannette Bellesfield

Jeannette is a rockstar who answered a last-minute call to participate in the Project this week, and I so appreciate it! Jeannette blogs about her adventures in motherhood and her crafting attempts (and fails) at Mommy Needs A Martini. Here's how Jeannette is having it all.

Briefly describe your life and what you think makes it unique.
I’m not sure there is a brief answer to this! My best description, in the shortest of terms, is chaotic! I work full time in Corporate America, as does my husband, so our two daughters are in a public daycarefull time. I get up before the sun every morning to hurriedly ready myself for the day before the kidsmake their first appearance. Once we’re all dressed and groomed, I drop them off – all before 7am – and I head to work. When my day is done at work, it is merely just beginning at home. After I pick the kidsup, we head home, let the dogs out, fight off the witching hour tantrums and try to unwind. Dinner is cooked, dogs and kids are fed, and then we play a game or read a book until Dad gets home. Then, it’s snack and bath time and, finally, BEDTIME.

That may just sound like a day in my life, but Monday through Friday, this IS my life. Year round. Rain or Shine. By the time Saturday rolls around, I want nothing more than to sleep-in or veg in front of the TV. But I don’t. I’m up with the kids, who are up with the sun. We have breakfast together and we talk about what we might do that day. And it’s just perfect.

Would I like more time to myself? Sure. But when I do have time to myself in eighteen years or so, I’m going to miss these days. Plus, life with two toddlers under three is sort of like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. Amiright?!

What are some of your favorite tips and strategies for coping with the chaos?
I’ve had people ask me, “How do you DO it?” and “Wow, you must be tired!”

I’m always so befuddled by those statements! How do I do what, exactly? Be a Mom? Do just what I desired to do when I set out on my journey into motherhood? How do I do that, you mean? And, duh, of course I’m tired. But so are most moms, regardless of their child(ren)’s age! I have found that keeping a meticulous routine during the week helps things go smoother. If the kids know what to expect, they’re more willing to transition to the next task. If we have something out of the ordinary to do during the week, the evening hours are much harder to manage. I’m sure I’m not doing anything special or different from other working moms. I’m just doing the best I can with what I have.

Please share a moment where it all broke down, and how you got through it.
Just a week ago, it felt like there wasn’t much else that could go wrong to throw off our routine!

Over the course of a week, our new hardwood floors started to buckle and bubble up, a pipe busted in our house rendering our only bathroom useless (with a potty training toddler in the mix) and I was in a car accident that ended in my vehicle being totaled.

I cried a lot that week. A LOT. But not because I was throwing a pity party. I cried because no matter what was thrown at us, we got through it. We didn’t freak out, we didn’t fight, and the kids hardly knew anything was amiss. We handled one problem at a time and found a solution.

I called the contractor about the floors and he came right out.

We called on my husband’s handy brother to fix the busted pipe and he did. I called on my Nana for an impromptu slumber party in the meantime.

The car accident happened within ten minutes of dropping the kids off at daycare. Just minutes. Everything would have – I won’t even finish that sentence. I walked away with whiplash. I walked away.Nothing else matters.

When I thought I might finally lose it, my husband simply said, “If God brought us to it, He will bring us through it.” That was all I needed to pull it together.

Do you have any balance role models? Anything you try to avoid because it wouldn't work for you?
I was raised a military kid: moving every two years, making new friends, getting used to new surroundings. But no matter where we lived, whether we were in temporary hotel housing or in military housing, my parents ALWAYS had the same routine. We always knew what we should be doing at any point in the day regardless of our location. My parents instilled that same routine and balance keeping mentality in me so it has helped me to teach my kids the same. We generally try to avoid breaking the routine during the week but tend to not be so constrained on the weekends.

Think back to your 18th birthday. How is your life different from how you expected it to be then?
On my 18th birthday, my Mom threw me a surprise party at my favorite Chinese restaurant. I remember walking in not expecting anyone but my family, wearing my Varsity letterman jacket, straight from the softball field and being overwhelmed with happiness when I saw the room full of people. The smile on my Mom’s face as she held a bundle of balloons and stood amongst my closest friends is an image that has never left me. On that day, I had plans to go to college for Athletic Training and Sports Medicine. I was going to be an Olympic Softball player. My best friends and I were going to be friends forever. I was going to marry my high school crush. My Mom would teach me how to be a Mom when the time came.

None of those things actually happened.

I went to college for Athletic Training and Sports Medicine but I only lasted a year. I switched colleges three more times and changed my major just as many. I got a “real job” in 2003 and that’s where I still am today.

I never made it to the Olympics, let alone semi-pro, but I did become a youth softball coach. Watching “my” girls grow up both in life and athleticism has been more rewarding than I anticipated. My first 8 year old team is now in the sophomore year of high school!

Out of the 10-12 people at my surprise dinner, I’m still really friends with two of them. I’ve been in contact with some of the others, but only because of social media.

My high school crush broke my heart and I haven’t spoken to him since. But I did marry my best friend. I met him at the “real job” I started instead of finishing college.

I lost my Mom suddenly and tragically long before I had children of my own. But her voice and her smile and her lessons I never knew she was teaching still resonate with me today. My Dad is very much involved in my life as well as that of my children and he continues to teach me something new every time we talk!

Relate to what Jeannette is saying? Leave her some love in the comments. Read other posts from The Having It All Project here. Want to participate? Send me an email at


  1. Jeanette, so great to learn a bit more about you! I totally agree, you are a rock star!!! I love what you say about your parents always having the same routine no matter where you lived, that really is important for kids. I try to do the same for my kids because when I grew up routine was really a relative term! Lol! Thanks for letting us know more about you!! xo

    1. Aww thank you Kathy! I've tried life without routine and it was mayhem! I'll stick to what I know :)

  2. I'm curious why my comment was deleted? There is research to back up my claims. Isn't discussion about these topics beneficial to women? That is how the feminist revolution began in the first place.

  3. Navina, this is Cheryl, the owner of this site.

    Jeannette was asked and kindly agreed to participate in The Having It All Project. As I say on the page at the top of this site, "Long time readers here know that I'm fairly obsessed with the concept of "having it all" - what it means to each individual, and the decisions we make along the way in its pursuit. The Having It All Project will shine a spotlight on what's missing from all of the articles and debate about it. I want a space where we can talk about how we actually make life happen: the tips and strategies, the things we hope to accomplish, the failures that sometimes happen along the way to finding whatever "all" means for each of us. I want to know how you're having it all in the right here and now." If you read through other interviews, you'll see that I've attempted to find a wide variety of people and ways of "having it all," from stay at home parents to working parents to non-parents and everything in between. Just because this post didn't resonate for you, doesn't mean all of them won't.

    While I didn't disagree with some of the points your comment raised, I did feel that it's tone was not helpful and did not do anything to further the conversation here. Each poster in the series is a guest on my site, and if you don't like the goals of this project, then you can take that up with me personally, not the guest poster. I did take a few minutes to look at your site, and didn't see any research on the link between being a working parent and the increased need for prescription medication of any sort.

    With more and more households being formed with two full-time working adults, we need more discussion of how to make that work for our families, not just opinions that it's unsustainable and as you said, "dangerous." You may not believe that we can have it "all," and I'm not sure I do either, but I do believe we can't stop trying or settle for less than the best we can do.

    1. Thank you for your response Cheryl. I can understand what you are trying to do by including guest posters and monitoring comments on their behalf. I feel very strongly that we keep this conversation going as moms. I just posted my topic for today but next Monday at 11AM PST, I will publish a blog about the "dangers" and "unsustainability" of putting such pressure on ourselves as moms. A lot of the sources sited on my website address this topic, but I will include some specific references in next weeks topic. I would welcome any concerns or comments to that piece you might want to share. I have theories that feel threatening to some women but if we keep talking, maybe it will get better for our daughters!

  4. Jeannette - this is wonderful! Your children no doubt recognize all that you and your husband do day in and day out. There are so many working parents in America and the balance is so difficult to maintain. Through routines, planning, and love you are succeeding. I am sure your mother would be proud of you, and no doubt your father is. Congratulations on being an awesome role model for your kids. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Gosh, Alyson! Thank you SO much for your comment! I hope my Mom is proud and I'm grateful my Dad voices that he is :)