Two tweens and a baby. Two daughters and a son. The life of local ceramics artist Sarah Tippetts is a super-mom split between emotional girl angst and diaper-clad destruction. But rather than being overwhelmed by the two different seasons of motherhood, Tippetts and attorney-husband Tim are embracing their new journey with a willingness to let baby lead the way.
You have two daughters, Tess, 12, and Adelle, 10. So, I have to ask, is your 9-month-old son William a surprise baby?
Oh, yes, big surprise [laughing]. I had two and my hands were full, and I kept thinking I’d like to have one more child. But the further I got away from having a baby, the more I thought, “Oh, I don’t know.”
How is motherhood this time around different than it was with your daughters?
I am so much more relaxed – I feel bad for my daughters [laughing]. When my girls were little, I worried about them learning their ABCs and achieving these benchmarks that I thought would translate into me being a good mom. It was more about me. I was learning to be a mom with them. Of course I’m still learning, but there was so much more anxiety; I’ve let go of the perfectionism.
So, now you’re just kind of living in the moment?
Exactly. I’m not trying to control the process. I’m able to just enjoy William. I look at my daughters now and it’s like, I can’t believe they were this little.
What does the new family dynamic look like?
It seems like the William show. Everything does revolve around him. My daughters are crazy about him, but at first they weren’t so sure. Adelle was mad – she liked being the youngest. I knew she would come around; she’s wild about him now. Tess is always asking if she can watch William. He brings us all together, especially now, because he’s in a very fun baby phase.
Is the big age gap a challenge?
I was reading this article about parenting that said the most challenging years are 5 and under and 12 through 18. I was sitting there thinking, “I put myself in both of the most challenging times at once.” The girls and William are in such completely different developmental places, so that’s interesting trying to meet their specific needs.
Boy mom vs. girl mom – what’s the biggest surprise so far?
William eats so much; the first four months were nonstop nursing. And he already has this propensity for destruction. I mean, all babies do, but he’s like a little tornado.
What’s it like parenting a teen and a baby?
The emotional teenage girl is very draining [laughing]. My husband and I joke that if Will was a girl right now, I don’t know if I could take it. The challenges with my girls as they enter this preteen/teenage phase, it’s tough. If I knew I had to do this again in 10 years exactly like this, I don’t know. I’m already looking forward to a hopefully different experience when William is a teen.
How do you mix art with motherhood?
Because my husband’s schedule is so demanding, we don’t have the balance we both would like to have. But I do have someone watch Will on Fridays. That’s my day to not be a mom for those hours and just do my work.
Sounds like you’re carving out some quality “me time.”
When I was a new mom, I didn’t understand how important it was to make time for myself. And that I didn’t need some big excuse. Whereas now, when I know I need a break, I take it. This really changes everything as far as my ability to take care of my kids. I thought my kids would need me less as they got older, and it’s the opposite. I don’t know why someone didn’t clue me in to that.
But it does go by fast…
In a flash. Now I just enjoy each day, even when I have the normal struggles of being a mom. I feel like I’m able to put things into perspective in a way I couldn’t before. This allows me embrace the simple joys with my children.
Published March 2014