Marvelous Mama Kate

4 February 2016

In many ways, my older sister Kate and I could not be more different. She is numbers and logic; I am words and instinct. She would always prefer to be in the company of others; I love my alone time. She’ll make peace to a fault; I’ll dig in my heels to a fault. In the classic tradition of opposites attract, however, we’ve been close our whole lives, from playing tigers on our backyard swing set to now swapping recipes and parenting stories. I’ve gotten the privilege of seeing her raise my niece up close (though not as close as I would like – we live many miles apart!), and am proud of the wonderful job she’s doing. As a mama, she is calm, practical, affectionate, resourceful, and thoughtful. I’m so happy to have her going before me through parenthood!

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Photo by Nancy Ray

Name: Kate Seely
Occupation: Hospital-based physical therapist
With whom do you live? My husband Cormac (we met in college) and my two-year-old daughter Tegan; also one normal dog, one dog who thinks he’s a person, one normal cat, and one cat who thinks he’s a dog
What does a day in the life look like for you? I work four days a week, so on those days I wake up at 6:30 am and get dressed, then wake up Tegan and get her dressed. She eats breakfast while I pack a lunch and/or put dinner in the crockpot. Cormac is often already up and working in the home office, so we poke our heads in to say goodbye and then head out around 7:15. I drop Tegan off at daycare (a center close to my work) and I’m at work at 8. I work with hospital patients all day, which is mostly great, and leave around 4:15. I pick up Tegan and we head home. We often try to squeeze in a walk with the dogs or a run before dinner, and then we try to eat dinner all together – it doesn’t always happen, and sometimes Cormac or I just sit with Tegan while she eats and then we eat together later. Then we play for a little while, or sometimes make a trip to the park if it’s nice and there’s time. Every other night is bath night, and we generally start to get Tegan ready for bed around 7pm.  She’s usually in bed by 7:30, and then Cormac and I eat (if we haven’t already), take care of some chores, and try to have a little time to hang out together, watch TV, or do some Sporcles.


What do you eat for lunch? Dinner? I usually bring leftovers or a Lean Cuisine for lunch, and I get a salad from the salad bar at work. I like to cook and I usually make dinner – some tried-and-true recipes, but I love to try new things, too, usually found on Pinterest. But sometimes we just have leftovers, and we probably go out or get takeout once a week. Tegan eats whatever we do. It did take about 9-12 months after she was born for me to start cooking dinner again on a regular basis!
Netflix obsession: I haven’t watched much TV since having Tegan, but we did just watch the first two seasons of The Americans on Amazon Prime – I liked it a lot, but we’re too cheap to pay for the third season :) I did watch all five seasons of Friday Night Lights while I was on maternity leave!
Do you listen to podcasts? If so, which ones, and when? I love Pop Culture Happy Hour from NPR, and my new one (as result of a recommendation from PCHH) is Switched on Pop, which looks at the musicality behind pop songs. I usually listen to them in the car, but only when Tegan’s not in it – she’s not a fan of podcasts yet, and it’s kind of hard to follow along with a yelling toddler in the backseat.
Why did you decide to have children? I don’t remember ever wondering whether I wanted kids; the only question was when, so for me, it wasn’t a monumental decision. I think it’s mostly because I want to be able to give someone what my parents gave me: a childhood full of adventures, learning, and love; the courage and skills to go out in the world on my own; and a continued support system even though we live 1,500 miles apart.


What is something related to kids you were not at all prepared for? How long it is before you get regular sleep. I try to tell all my pregnant friends this (in a nice way!). I don’t want to be a downer, but I was NOT prepared. Everyone knows that you don’t get much sleep with a newborn, but I kind of thought that lasted maybe a few weeks? (I probably should have known better). Tegan is a pretty good sleeper now (Ferber all the way!) but it was months before we got to sleep though the night, and I know we’re not alone. You do adjust and you can get by with less sleep than you thought, but it’s hard, and it’s often hard for a while.
What is your parenting philosophy? I don’t have a strict philosophy; I mentioned Ferber above (for sleeping) and I really like Ellyn Satter’s book about eating. Otherwise, I try to stay calm, give Tegan a choice when there is one, and explain why (at least briefly) when there’s not.  
Tell us about a lesson you’ve learned since having kids. Rubbing alcohol works really well to take the ink stains off a microfiber couch!


One thing you are doing the same as your parents and one thing you are doing differently: Tegan’s not quite old enough yet, and doesn’t have any siblings yet, but I definitely plan to implement the “my day” system my parents used: my sisters and I rotated days, and when it was your day, you had to set the table and do a few other chores, but you also got to sit in the front seat of the car and got a few other privileges. This eliminated a LOT of fights. (As a bonus, it also helped us learn simple division! Since there were three of us, the “day” was determined by dividing the date by three — if it divided evenly, it was our youngest sister’s day; if it divided with a remainder of one, it was the first born’s day; and if it divided with a remainder of two, it was the second born’s day.)

One thing I’m trying to do differently is follow through on promises/threats. I love my mom dearly (I know she’s reading, so hi, Mom!) but she wasn’t always the most consistent about following through with “you can’t go to the party if you don’t do x.” I try hard not to give Tegan an ultimatum unless I’m prepared to carry it out – the other day I caught myself saying “we’re going to leave without you if you don’t get in your car seat now,” which, obviously, I would not do, so I had to think of another tactic.


Favorite book(s) to read with/to your little. Tegan has her own favorites, including a “book of words” and no plot line that is infamous with my family, but my favorites to read are Little Blue Truck, Nancy Shaw’s Sheep series, and Madeline.
What is your favorite part about having children? Right now it’s her running to me when I pick her up at daycare or when I get home from work on the weekends and she’s just so excited to see me. She’s starting to talk more now, so it’s also really neat to start getting some insight into what she’s thinking, and to hear how somebody’s view of the world develops.


We love you, Kate!!

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February 5, 2016 10:56 am

This is Mom :) and you are so right about promises/threats. I think I learned a little as I was parenting you 3 and maybe got better as time went on. I’ll definitely be better with Tegan and June!!

February 8, 2016 3:54 pm

Great kid, all grown up! Great mama! Great kid of great mama! (And since we’re on the subject of mamas, I’ll leave it there — except to note that there IS a dad factor in there, too…)

February 9, 2016 6:03 pm

Love this Marvelous Mama! (I also really love the two above comments – your family is the best!)

February 10, 2016 12:44 pm

Love this series Em! you have a great and inspiring circle! Could you share any advice you have about postpartum recovery and the hospital experience?

February 20, 2016 10:12 pm

So far I’m loving this series and reading how different mamas do things!