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Moms on motherhood

New mothers and empty nesters alike say there is nothing pre-packaged about life as a parent.

  • By
  • | 2:46 p.m. May 4, 2021
Amy McKinlay and Luca Giunta
Amy McKinlay and Luca Giunta
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There aren’t really rules to being a parent. There are guidelines and commonly agreed upon suggestions — and plenty of help books — but it can still be tricky. That feeling can be felt now more than ever in a rapidly changing world with new situations arising all the time. 

We spoke with three local moms who gave insight on what it takes to be a good mother. 

Amy McKinlay 

Amy McKinlay and Luca Giunta. Courtesy photo
Amy McKinlay and Luca Giunta. Courtesy photo

Photographer Amy McKinlay has happily embraced the last 11 months of being a mother with her son Luca, but it certainly hasn’t been what she expected. Playdates, get-togethers and group activities have largely been sidelined.

“He’s a quarantine baby who's a little bit shy,” McKinlay said. “I was going to have him socialized perfectly by now but it will come in time as we slowly come down from this craziness.”

McKinlay, 30, has let go trying to compare herself to other parents. She thinks the much healthier thing to do trust herself.

“You see their babies like hitting a certain milestone before yours and it makes you question ‘Oh my gosh, is my baby not up to speed?’ '' she said. “You have to realize all babies are just different and they are going to hit these milestones at different times.”

To that end, she’s adopted the classic approach of making sure to give her young one as much time and new experiences as she can. It’s been a thrilling 11 months, she just wishes he would slow down growing a bit so she can enjoy it even more. 

“No matter how many books and articles you read to prepare yourself … you just have to keep in mind that your child's unique,'' she said. "They're their own little person and no one knows your child better than you do.”


Savannah Holds

Luna, Savannah and Violet Holds. Courtesy photo
Luna, Savannah and Violet Holds. Courtesy photo

37-year-old Savannah Holds, a mother of 4-year-old Violet and 15-month-old Luna, has a lot on her plate. She manages her own business-coaching company, makes sure her kids are cared forand does countless other day-to-day tasks 

 It’s no trouble for Holds, but it does make her consider more how to best raise her two kids. In her view, she knows she’s doing well when she makes time to sit down and connect with her children. 

“Trips come and go,” Holds said. “Those moments where you look at your kid and they look at you and you’re thinking ‘Hey, I see you there’’ … those little moments are more important than we give them credit for.”

She is sure to sit down with her daughter each morning for breakfast — even if it’s Cheerios — so they can have a minute to spend together.

“I try to get as much done as possible (during the day) so that I can give Luna, my full attention on the days that she is not in school and give Violet attention when, when she's leaving for school,” Holds said. 


Lissa Murphy

Elle LaClair and Lissa Murphy. Courtesy photo
Elle LaClair and Lissa Murphy. Courtesy photo

Wardrobe stylist Lissa Murphy is at a different stage of motherhood with her daughter Elle LaClair — she’s recently had to say goodbye. 

Elle moved north for her first year of college, and while Murphy describes feeling heartbreak the first few weeks her 19-year-old was gone, she feels proud of her daughter’s growth. She often thinks of a Maya Angelou poem about how love doesn’t hold onto something — it liberates.

"She was so ready to begin this new chapter in her life," Murphy said. "It was just one of those things that I just felt so confident that she was that she had prepared herself to go to this next level."

Murphy said she knew the day would come that Elle would leave the nest — it became much more real when her daughter started driving on her own — and she felt it was her responsibility to prepare her for that time. She likes to think she’s done just that.

“I don't want to pave the path for Elle, I want her to make mistakes and learn from them and then move forward and get stronger,” Murphy said. “(She should) take chances and explore everything full and big that life has to offer.”

They still text and FaceTime as much as they can, which helps with the few times Murphy feels sad. She says she feels if motherhood was a movie, it would be a dramedy full of love, mistakes and growth. And while there’s been plenty of highs and lows to the story, she’d like to watch it time and time again.

“I’ve really just tried to instill independence in Elle so she believes that she can kind of figure out things on her own,” Murphy said. “I always have my hand on her back if she needs me.“


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