Moms Make it Work: Meredith from Oregon

Today's poster is Meredith from La Buena Vida, a blog friend of mine who shares my sleep deprivation woes. Except her lack of sleep is improving as Becca gets bigger and mine is going to start allllll over again in a few more months. I loved her take on being a SAHM and her honesty about her struggles. Enjoy and find the rest of the series here



Hi guys! My name is Meredith, and I (occasionally) blog over at La Buena Vida, and can mostly be found on Instagram as @labuenavidamere. I'm married to Justin, and we have two girls--Lizzy (4) and Becca (15 months).

Julia and I have been blog friends for years now, but I think we originally met as part of the group that posted on the Decorating & Renovating board on The Nest back in like 2007 or 2008. There's a whole group of us, and I love that while most of us started posting right after we got married looking for tips on organizing and decorating our first apartments/houses, we've stayed connected after all these years! 

A few months ago, I saw a TED talk by an author named Chimamanda Adichie. The title of the talk was "The Danger of a Single Narrative", and in it, she discussed how sometimes we hear one story about a group of people and assume that it's the truth for all people in that group. Her talk was about racial and class issues, but I think it absolutely applies to the "mommy wars" between working moms and stay at home moms as well. Julia proposed the idea for this series just a week or so after I saw this talk, and I really love that it highlights how there are so many different stories when it comes to moms, and so many different ways to make it work. Thanks for hosting Julia!

-What is your background story? What was your career/schooling before you became a mom? And now where are you?

I have always loved law. I know that probably sounds crazy, but in high school, I can remember writing every paper that I could on the Supreme Court, just so I could read a few of the cases. I was on the mock trial team, and I basically always thought that I'd go to college, become a lawyer, and live in the city. 
Landscape (3)

Only, I went to college and quickly discovered that I *hated* living in a big city. As someone who grew up in a small town surrounded by lakes, rivers, mountains, and the ocean, I just didn't realize how much I'd miss them. It hadn't even occurred to me that in the city, you really can't see the stars. I ended up transferring back to a university near my small town (the fact that Justin and I were dating long distance and he lived there played a part too, I'm sure), and found the sweet spot for me in Sociology and Criminal Justice. I got to take a lot of law classes, while simultaneously opening up to fields that involved the law, but didn't necessarily involve law school, which I was no longer certain I wanted to do.


During college, I interned at the DA's office as a victim's advocate, and then after that I worked at a nonprofit called CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates), where we advocated for children in foster care. I liked my job at CASA a lot, but because we had access to the child's entire case file, it was an extremely stressful job, and I don't think I realized at the time how much it could sometimes affect me emotionally. I was sort of a crazy person at times. I look back now at some of the blog posts that I wrote during that time or think of comments that I left, and I cringe a little bit. I feel like that person is far removed from the person I am now. But that's neither here nor there...while I was pregnant with Lizzy, Justin and I talked for months about whether or not it was best for me to keep working or to stay at home. Ultimately, we ran the math and discovered that after daycare and gas, I'd only be bringing home about $50 a month by working, and for me, it just made sense to stay home instead. Ultimately, giving my notice felt like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, and I'm really glad that we made the decision that we made, even though it was kind of a leap of faith for us.


-What are the best parts of your situation? What are the biggest challenges? 

 The hardest part for me is that even with a really super stressful job, I was able to "clock out" and go home. That doesn't really happen now. Over the past year, when Becca wasn't sleeping at all, I felt a ton of guilt about basically dropping all my other activities and interests. I mean, you always hear how crucial it is to maintain your identity outside of being a mom, but I was just so tired that I was basically in survival mode. Coupled with that, Justin works a *ton* (his schedule isn't always regular or predictable) and he also goes to go to school for his apprenticeship at night, plays baseball, is in a band, and leads worship at church. These are all things that I *want* for him and want to support him in, but over the past year it was hard sometimes not to feel resentful that he "got" to do all those other things while I was a mom and nothing else. Literally.

This is something that I'm actively working on addressing, because the truth is that the opportunities for me to do things to cultivate my identity outside being a mom are there, and Justin is always supportive of them. I just haven't always taken advantage of the opportunities because things were so rough in the sleep department with Becca. I'm hopeful that now that Becca has weaned and is more consistently sleeping through the night, I'll be able to duck out more often with less guilt (and less exhaustion).

The best part is just being here. I don't think that being a stay at home mom is the "right" way to do things by any means, but I feel blessed that I'm able to stay at home with our kids and have this extra
time with them while they're little. Even when the days are long and hard, it's still a blessing to be here for all the little moments.


-Is this how you expected it to be pre-kids?

I'm not sure that I really had expectations about what it would be like pre-kids.  Both Justin and I grew up in households where we had a parent at home for part of our growing up years and also with both parents working for another part of our growing up years, so I feel like we were both open to whatever we felt would be the best fit for our family, while also recognizing that what works for us may change throughout the years.


-Is this your ideal situation? If not, what is?

 For now, yes, I think it's the ideal situation for us! The only thing that would make it more ideal would be for Justin's work schedule to be more consistent, but that's not something that I can control, so I just try not to think about it ;)

-Do you see yourself making a career change in the next 5-10 years, or is this current set up
staying put for the long haul?

I don't know! I could see myself potentially starting to work again as the girls/any theoretical future babies are in school, but I'm not sure in what capacity. I could see myself going to law school if the university nearby ever opened one, but I'm not sure that I could see myself actually practicing law. 

On the other hand, I currently do some photography on the side. So far, I have intentionally not become an official business (don't worry, I still pay taxes on that income!) due to some small business laws in our state coupled with a heaping portion of self-doubt about whether or not I'm really good enough to do that full time. Sometimes I can picture myself going all-in somewhere down the line, and sometimes I can't. 

Basically, I have zero answers to this question! I'm open to doing things differently, but I'm also open to continuing our current arrangement!

-Tips on how you make this work for you?

For me, the biggest key to making this work is constant, quality, communication with Justin. Talking openly and often about how we're both doing, what our needs are, and how we can support each other. Justin is very much an extrovert and I'm very much an introvert, so sometimes our needs are very different! 

Also, I know first hand that sleep deprivation is a powerful, powerful monster. I didn't deal with it much with Lizzy, but I dealt with it BIG TIME with Becca, and I really went into survival mode over this past year. If you're in the thick of that right now, please know that it's okay. It's okay to drop everything non-essential for awhile. But it's also important (as I'm finding out now!) to add some of those things that make you feel like you back in once things settle down (and I promise, they WILL settle down, eventually).

Once you're out of the sleep-deprivation haze, even if there's dishes that need to be done, laundry that needs to be washed, even if the whole house is a mess, find {at least} 30 minutes in the day to fuel you--whether that be working out, reading a book, doing a craft, or trying something new. I've discovered a love for sewing quilts, rekindled a passion for Photoshop, and devoured a lot of books...each of which brings me a little closer to feeling like me again.


-How do you handle mommy guilt?

For awhile, I had some serious guilt that I had "wasted" my education by staying at home. I mean, here we were (and are) paying my student loans while all I was doing was nursing a baby and changing diapers all day. I mean, did I really need a degree for that? 

I've come to realize that when I was in college, I had no idea what my life would be like. I couldn't have anticipated when I'd have kids or whether I'd stay at home or continue working. I've come to realize that having a college degree will open up more doors in life for me by far, and that even though I'm not actively using my degree right now, I feel like education is never a bad thing. Period.

That's something that I hope we instill in our girls as well!


-Advice for new moms struggling with returning to work outside of the home? Or struggling to decide if staying home is the  right choice?

To me, this is one of those situations where there is no universal right or wrong answer, only what's best for you and your family, right now, at this moment. The truth is that there are *so* many variables when it comes to making that decision for your family--your personality, finances, available daycare options, work schedules at your job--and because of all those variables, it's really hard for anyone else to give you accurate advice about what's best for your family. So the advice that I do have is as follows:

Talk about it. Pray about it. Talk about it some more. Do what you feel called to do. And try to be open to the idea that your needs and your family's needs will change throughout the years--you're not locked in to any decision that you make forever! 

(find the rest of the MMIW series here)


  1. Oh, the sleep deprivation parts RING TRUE. My first was such a better sleeper than my second, and I'm slowly coming out of nearly a year of broken, broken sleep. It's true - I have no energy to do anything once they're in bed. It sucks big time, but I'm trying to remember it'll get better (hopefully soon!) and I can start getting back some energy for other things.

  2. I love that TED talk, and I like how you bring the single story idea to the "mommy wars." Thanks for sharing your story!

  3. Great reminder to devote some time to pursuing a hobby or SOMETHING that helps you remain "you"! For me I guess that is mostly just my work, but someday I'll have hobbies again ;)

  4. Great post, Meredith! I so enjoy following your family on Instagram. Thanks for sharing!

  5. CASA is an amazing organization! I don't think I ever knew you worked there. How cool. But even cooler? Getting to stay home with those two sweet girls. I hear ya on the sleep deprivation. Brigham never slept his first year. I was a disaster. I have no idea how I made it through that year while working full time. But it is what it is. You're right, everyone's situation is so different. Great post. And I really think you could do photography full-time. You're great at it!

  6. Thanks for your story! I totally hear you on how hard it is to keep up with your separate identity and how it can lead to sometimes resenting hubby for having an easier time getting out. But, that's just the reality sometimes - it's easier for my husband to go out than me, and I don't want both of us to stop our activities! For me the hardest is letting go of my own expectations on myself - I used to never miss a night of training (as a competitive boxer) and kept myself super-busy going to various events - and frankly that's just not possible now, I'm not making 'excuses' or 'being lazy', I'm just being busy at home. Done. Anyway, thanks again for your story.

    Julia I'm sure many have already said this, but in case you don't already have enough to do, have you considered editing some of these stories into a book? It would make a great gift for a new mom. Kind of like the Mothers Who Think collection by the editors of


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