I’m very excited to introduce you to Nina and Moses. I think they are going to change your Tuesday.
This is not a tour that focuses on product sources or fabric recommendations. Instead, it’s the sort of home tour where you might find yourself envying the sunlight that sneaks across Moses’ room. You might feel a pang of gratitude you’ve got a partner in parenting. You might even want to tell a well-intentioned stranger to keep his opinions to himself and stop bothering Nina, for goodness sake. Loudly, even. You may leave this tour feeling a little lost and yet a lot found, if that’s even possible. I did.
All this to tell you I hope you’re as moved by Nina as I am. Happy Tour Tuesday, Friends.
My name is Nina. I’m a single mother of a little boy named Moses.
It’s funny how that is always how I describe myself now, as a mother first and foremost. Growing up, people always asked what I wanted to be and I never knew the answer because, well, I wanted to be everything.
Now I work full time at a desk. and I still don’t consider it my career though the people I work for are good to me and I don’t see myself going anywhere for a while. I work for a towing company, of all places. I was basically a professional bartender and I wanted to branch out, and one of my regulars told me he could hire me at his office and I could learn how to dispatch. I did that part-time for a short time but ended up moving up to administrative assistant and now I do some HR work.
It’s a lot of paperwork in an industry I never really pictured myself being in, but it’s a great learning experience and, sometimes, a great practice in patience. I suppose though, first and foremost, I am a mother. Of a little boy. And we like to adventure.
I live in eastern Pennsylvania. It’s called the Lehigh Valley, made up of a bunch of little towns.
I always thought I hated it here when I was younger, but as I age I really love it. We are an hour from Philadelphia, two from New York City.
It can be urban in some areas and suburban in others, but there are these little pockets of wonderful restaurants and theater experiences you can find, and then these little neighborhoods full of people who are insanely close and have known each other forever, and then you drive north and all of a sudden you are in the mountains, or farm land, and even right outside of my neighborhood.
You can go one direction and find yourself in a little city or go the other and be in rolling hills.
I rent my home. I lucked out and found it when I was eight months pregnant. It’s three stories and part of a double, and the basement isn’t really a story at all — rather a laundry room — and the upstairs is mainly storage space and a little room I like to call my yoga studio.
There have been no real troubles with the place, and my landlady is a dream as landlords go.
The first winter I was here, though, the heat went out and the pipes froze and here I was with this tiny newborn feeling like I was failing just by choosing an older place for us to live in. Luckily, aforementioned landlady saved the day and reminded me that I wasn’t in a condo anymore and these things happen in homes with character.
I think my style is a few simple pieces that will last. When everyone began capsule wardrobes it kind of cracked me up because, well, my closet always consists of just a few pieces I interchange daily. I think the same of furniture.
My nightstand belonged to my mother; it’s practically an antique. Moses’ crib is one of those conversion ones that will turn into a bed one day, and his toy box was built by his godmother’s father. Simple, classic, clean pieces.
Sure we need to have some plastic toys that sing and dance — he’s a little boy — but the main pieces that will grow with him are classics.
Decor-wise right now, I’m sad to say, I’ve kept a lot of old pieces and refuse to buy new ones until Moses is out of his loving-to-make-a-mess-out-of-everything phase. At this rate, I may have the same couch until he’s in college (Please, no!) but it is also an item that I’m not worried about him making a mess on. I like letting the kid be a kid.
This may be a cringe-worthy statement, but I have to say it. I always thought a perfect home would have loving parents. Plural.
No, we don’t have that, but I have myself, and so I suppose working on myself and building a stronger me every day for my son’s benefit is my main non-negotiable on establishing a happy home with my child.
I think since I am a single mother I feel the stress of needing to be perfect all of the time with him. It feels that some people are quicker to judge your actions or methods, and you always need to be on. I’m trying to work on myself to just be the best mother I can be to Moses without worrying what others think because I think he, even at a young age, can sense insecurity and I don’t want him to be able to read into that, feed off of that, or take on any neuroses of his own because his mother is too busy worrying about the little things.
I like having a place to share my thoughts, a place where I feel safe writing out some of the silly things that go on in my mind. I also like thinking of it as a little space for Moses to look back on and read about his childhood.
I might stop blogging so much about my son as he ages; having all that out there gets a bit frightening. But for now I like these memories. The first few months are like his baby book. Also, a little place to read about his mother. I was always so curious about my mother’s life before kids, so I’m happy Mos can read about my travels, etc.
I also love featuring people whose interests mirror some of my own, who have found a way to make a career of them or are fighting to do so. Mothers who climb mountains with their babies. Men who live in Alaska writing novel after novel. Vintage shop owners who dig through piles of clothing to find the perfect piece. Jewelers, doll makers, photographers, dress crafters. It’s my place but also theirs.
I love that anyone can stumble upon it and think Oh, how I relate to this, and maybe are even inspired by it.
I’ve interviewed some amazing people. I’m so lucky that they say yes!
But most memorable has to be Mitka of Moon in Leo, this little vintage shop in Squamish British Columbia. The way she answered every question had so much life behind it and such an obvious passion for what she was speaking about.
No, I love them all, I do, they all exude passion. But hers was just such a peek into her world. She travels to Mexico to buy vintage from British Columbia, and barely knows any Spanish, and has formed this great friendship with these shop owners who don’t know English and…that’s drive, that’s pluck and ambition, and something you don’t find a lot of in this world today.
I grew up with a single mother. We were poor, we lived from paycheck to paycheck.
Sometimes we were very poor. I knew we were poor, she told me we were, that we didn’t have any financial support from a father and so on once I got older. When I was a kid, she sort of kept it to herself.
Christmas was always elaborate, birthdays happened. What I remember, though, from my childhood isn’t toys or material objects. My mother loved to drive, and we were always taking drives out to the country. We even drove back and forth to Florida A LOT and that was fun. Junk food and her old Police tape and singing along to the Talking Heads.
I take Moses for drives. We go to an alpaca farm and watch them, or just drive out to the country. He falls asleep, I listen to old songs. I think if I just tell him how important it is to appreciate what you have, he will retain that. Kids are sponges. They want love. That doesn’t always mean a fancy new electronic; it means a snuggle and a memory of your mom wanting to be with you.
I think sure we won’t be rich, but I want to show him that it’s certainly not the things you can buy in life that make you happy.
Moses is exactly how I imagined him being when I was pregnant. He’s amazingly sweet and cuddly, but then has these hysterical moments where he is just pure boy. He makes these faces and has these little moments of absolute attitude that can only be my son.
He also has a great love of the outdoors which makes me so happy. His smile grows by about 25 percent and his giggles are amazing.
Choosing a daycare for him was hard. My mom watched him when I went back to work initially, and it was such a load off of my chest having my mother watch him. They’re best buds, and when it got to be a little too much for her to watch him full-time, the daycare search began.
It can be scary. Some places are real creepy. “How are you open?” I wanted to ask them.
I found a sweet little place, though. It’s a bit of a drive out of our way in the morning, but he loves his teachers and the infant room teacher there made me feel like I was leaving him with a friend. He loved her, and the move to the toddler room was hard on both of them. I heard she snuck him back for an hour or two!
I love that one glance at him can remind me there is something so much bigger than myself. The universe is in his smile. From this home and our life together I hope he remembers warmth and comfort and love and knows he always has a place to return to, but also a huge support for anything he wants to do in life.
Being a single mom is crazy. I don’t like phrasing it that way but it was the first thought that came to my mind, so there it is.
Not only are you taking on this monumental, life-changing task that most people are nervous about with a teammate — you’re doing it all alone. Then you know it’s 2016 but you still have people and their opinions, which they feel so comfortable announcing.
I had a man the other day tell me I should be married to Moses’ father. I just stared at him incredulous. Even if those are your thoughts, I mean, maybe keep them to yourself. I was sitting at my desk at the time, working, away from a son I wish I could be home with at all times, trying to pay for someone else to watch him, and being told, you know, marry his dad? It’s not that easy.
But my friends — Oh my friends and family! — when I told them I was pregnant it was like this warm little circle all came in for a hug and didn’t let go. I’m lucky enough to have amazing people in my life who just love us so much.
Instagram is a funny little app, too. I like reading about mamas on there. Talking to them, meeting women I would not have met otherwise. One just made me a cross stitch. It’s so beautiful and she flew it across the country to me. That’s amazing.
Nina, as perturbed as I was at the unsolicited advice your personal circumstances seem to invite, I’m so grateful you ended by telling us about your lovely friends and family members. “…this warm little circle all came in for a hug and didn’t let go.” Well, that’s about the most wonderful description of support I’ve ever heard. I’m thrilled you have it.
I loved Nina’s perspective, didn’t you? Her positivity and ability to see the beauty in every situation and smile is inspiring, to say the least. I’m just so proud of her. (Also, this post on her blog is the sweetest, and I wanted to be sure you saw it.)
P.S. – Are you living with your own kids in a unique way? Are you interested in sharing your home and experiences with us? Let me know! We love to be inspired! And it’s a lot of fun…I promise! I should also mention, I have a goal to bring more diverse points of view to Design Mom this year. So if you don’t see yourself or your community reflected here, let’s make it happen — send in your details, or recommend a friend! Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.