Living With Kids: Nina Hoderewski

By Gabrielle.

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 have a blog called Mos and Me. I also post on Instagram.

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!

Louisa from Big Picture Farm stands out, and Morgan Brechler — she’s such a badass.

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.

It’s nuts.

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 knowWe 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.

36 thoughts on “Living With Kids: Nina Hoderewski”

  1. I love this tour! Nina sounds so grounded especially so when she shares how hard being a single mother can be. I did it also for a number of years and it was tough. Thank you for sharing your home Nina and your sweet Moses!

  2. This was such a nice departure from the norm… it seems like most of the LWK series focuses on two parent homes where the parents are working from home and seem to have plenty of expendable cash. Thank you for featuring ALL of us; we can only understand and appreciate what we are exposed to… Nina, thanks for sharing a slice of your life! It looks beautiful :)

      1. I totally agree!! Wonderful tour – so happy to read Nina’s story for all of the reasons Blythe mentioned!! Thanks Gabrielle!!

  3. I love this. It was so personal. I have a 22 month old boy and cannot imagine doing it alone. I have my husband, but we do not have any family near and we think that is tough! Single mom’s have a very difficult job and I just wish people (especially men) were more sympathetic. I know the lehigh valley well and there must be great farms up there to explore.

  4. I’m tearing up a little right now… I enjoy this series, but I agree with Blythe that they so often seem like an unattainable dream for me right now: mom + dad, one stay at home parent, plenty of beautiful things in the home that they own. I am also a single mother of two kids, though it wasn’t always this way. I left their dad 2 years ago and he’s not very active in their lives at all. It was the right thing to do, but it’s so hard alone sometimes. You just want a partner there to share all the moments with! I yearn for a father figure for them. This post is just the right kind of representation for me to see today. Thank you so much for making an effort to show the variety of your readership.

  5. You sound like a very wise Mama. Moses is lucky to have you. Also, I have a partner in this, and 4 kids, but I have a few friends who are single moms to boys and sometimes I envy that. I think it sounds pretty nice, even though I know its also really hard.

  6. I enjoyed the simplicity of this post very very much. Nina’s love for her little boy shines through in every wise word and uncomplicated photo. Nina, you have inspired me!

  7. caroline hacker

    Nina, that fluffy hair on Moses is precious. I imagine how hard it is day to day for you so glad you have a delicious little boy to make it all worth it. That is the definition of strong family- right there!

  8. Nina, thank you for being so honest. There is something about the way you write that just resonates with me– it’s sincere, no frills, yet poetic. I think you and Moses are going to be way more than OK. Hugs!

  9. Dear Nina,
    mmmmmmmmwaahhh!
    Far and away my favorite Living with Kids. You and Moses are just the sweetest family.
    xoxo

  10. Families come in all shapes and sizes, thank goodness we are not homogenous! (Now wouldn’t that be boring.) Remember Nina, other people’s opinion about you and your family are of no importance and never will be. I loved reading about your life today, your description of where you live and what you get up to with Moses. You are living your life and I say Bravo!

  11. Hello from a fellow Lehigh Valleyite! Isn’t it a wonderful place? What a beautiful space and family. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Love this one so much! I was raised by a single mom. A happy home is one where the people in it are happy to be with each other, not one that has the “right” (whatever that means) people in the right roles. And those judgy judgerson’s are likely jealous (or intimidated) by the fact that you are a badass. So there ;)

  13. There is beauty everywhere in this post!! In every word, in every emotion you create, in every picture you took. Thanks for being what you are and sharing it with us.
    Raw Beauty and love. No pretending. – The most touching and beautiful and inspiring “living with kids”!!
    Iren

  14. “I want to show him that it’s certainly not the things you can buy in life that make you happy.”….what a blessed little boy.

    One of my favorite Living With Kids posts of all time!!! High fives to all the single parents out there. Whenever the person with the urge to be judgmental of single moms strikes, just remind yourself that the single parent is the one that STAYED, that’s doing the hard things each and every day, all on their own.

    Would love to see more home tours like this!!

  15. Nina, your words keep popping up in my mind since I read this. It meant a lot to me. I echo the other commenters: you’re beautiful and badass.

  16. This is my favorite Living with Children feature yet! I LOVE the simplicity and clean lines of this home, and I truly admire this mother’s positive and balanced outlook on life. Thank you for adding a new perspective to the conversation!!

  17. Nina, you are a beautiful writer with a gorgeous baby. I can tell you’re a bright light in this world! I love the simplicity and warmth and honesty of this story. Bravo!

  18. I agree with other commenters that it was so nice to have a family featured that doesn’t fit the “ideal” package: photogenic nuclear family with tons of disposable income. (Although Nina and her son are certainly beautiful, that’s for sure! :)). I know that families featured on blogs aren’t perfect and probably don’t feel that way, but the happy-happy joy joy of families coming across as “perfect” gets a little wearing. It’s unrealistic for the way life is anyway…we all have different seasons of where things are going the way we want, and seasons where they’re not. I appreciated seeing a single mother of substance heroically rearing her son well and appreciating the simple beauty of ordinary things.

  19. Nina,

    You are blessed, and you are a blessing. Moses is blessed. Thank you for choosing life and being real. You didn’t just leave me with a warm fuzzy, but deep thoughts. Thank you.

    Christina

  20. Nina! What a beautiful family you’ve created! Such a lovely home! I have been obsessing about buying a new couch and you just inspired me not to. I think I will enjoy being with my son more if I keep the old couch for a bit. This is my favorite Design Mom post of all time. It is so wonderful to hear from a single mama. We all need to hear more of their voices in the blogosphere. Gabrielle if you are looking for another Design Mom, I think Nina would make a wonderful addition!

  21. Loved this. Agree with everyone about the joy of reading a story that is not mommy+daddy+bighouse+welloff+prettypillows. I’m not saying I don’t love those stories as well, I do! There has been something interesting or lovely or thought provoking in every installment of this series. But this one was special. Thanks for sharing, Nina. You guys seem to have a very good thing going on. (Plus: Loved your writing!)

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