Frequently Asked Questions! But, not the standard kind that help you navigate a site or reach proper customer service agents. This FAQ post features the common questions people ask me about my circumstances. I don't get tired of answering. It's sweet that so many people are invested in my family and in the lives of our kiddos. Here is a list of curiosities people often throw my way:
How old are you?
"You look young!" I am young. "How old are you?" I'm 28. "Wow. That's a lot to take on ... It takes a special person." Thank you. It is a lot. I used to wonder what person God might choose to walk into Matt's life. Who Knew! Before you ask your next question, Matt is seventeen years older than me. Judge away!
Wait, so your maiden name is Boland?
Yes. Wild coincidence! We get a kick out of it. Also, the empowered female side of me is cool with keeping my last name.
Do you work?
Totally! I used to have this incredible corporate marketing career. My job rocked. My boss rocked. My company was super cool and I loved my role and my team and everything about my work life. Matt and I had been dating three months when he asked me to think about how important work was to me. I was insulted. You can read more about that here. Yet, two months after our conversation, I put in my notice and decided to become a domestic engineer for a family of six - and soon after that a family of six plus a puppy. For the record: If my girl friends had come to me with this plan for their own lives without a ring on their finger or more life experience with their significant other, I would have looked them in the eye and told them they were unintelligent and possibly insane for even considering such an irresponsible decision. So, here I am eating my words as I pack lunches, schedule dentist appointments and bathe the dog.
Matt and I spend lots of time serving the TaTa Sisterhood Foundation that Tara began. We volunteer, we plan events and most importantly, we connect women with other women to create a community of support for those with TNBC.
I do miss the confidence and independence that came with the career I was building. I was in a sweet spot and I worked hard to get there, and quickly. It's sad to think about leaving at such an incredible time. Still, there is something immensely rewarding about my new role. And it's not one you can just apply for or prepare for with education. Pretty unimaginable.
Do you think the kids will ever call you, Mom?
From the beginning I've said, "I don't know. If they want to! I don't need them to. Whatever comes out or feels right for them works for me." Before Matt and I got engaged I'd get the occasional mom or mommy and then my little ones would quickly correct themselves or glance at me to see how I reacted. I'd wink and tell them that those "m and l sounds are so similar, aren't they?"
Once we decided to get married, I began to hear "mom" more frequently from, surprisingly, Jack and Rachel, our two oldest. When people ask this question they almost always thought Sam, our youngest might go down the Call Molly by Mom road first. Many expected things to be more difficult for our older ones since they have more memories of their mother, Tara. I am certain it is difficult but I am also certain my older two children crave the presence of a mother. Jack called me mom first. Rachel followed suit almost immediately after the wedding.
As Jack and Ray dished out the M word so frequently, and so naturally, in front of Tom and Sam, I began to worry if that was hard for the little ones to hear. Or, perhaps it's confusing for them. I know Tom in particular has faced unsettling emotions when trying to manage missing mom and loving Molly at the same time. How would an eight-year-old know it's ok with feel both of these things without dishonoring one or the other? Five months into our marriage I was having this calling Molly Mom conversation with a dear friend, Megan, and told her, "I'm not sure Tom will ever call me mom, and that's ok, of course." To my surprise a few days later, Tom called me mom out of the blue in the morning. I could be biased, but he seemed to say it with such joy that day. For Tom, I've been mom ever since! Sam immediately followed his big brother's ways that morning but a few weeks later switched back to referring to me as "Molls." Matt calls me Molls and my dad always has too. Sam might like my nickname. Sam might not like that I'm making him take naps still. Whatever it is, if he's smiling when he calls me, he can call me whatever positive and respectful name he'd like.
Update (June): Sammers is calling me "mom" and "mommy" these days! He had an adorable and funny transition week of sentences like, "Molls, I have a question, Mom" and "Molly, I love you, Mom." Now Mommy is pretty much all I hear.
Do you think you and Matt will have kids of your own?
"Of your own" aren't my favorite words but I totally understand people mean nothing by it. Yes, Matt and I would like to try and see if our family could grow. When I was little I wanted three kids of course, because I am one of three. As my career became the center of my life in my twenties though, I was wondering down the path of not knowing if I would ever be a mom. (Fate was laughing at me. Loudly.) Three weeks into dating, Matt asked me how many kids I wanted. I told him, "Well, if this works out, your four could be enough. They would be our focus and they'd need all of our love. I worry about how they'd feel about more siblings, too. Matt, while stating he felt my words were amicable, quickly brushed my sincere statements aside and replied firmly, "Yeah ... No, we gotta have a baby." To this day, I wonder if any of his buddies ever warned him not to come on too strong? He keeps his private life just that though - private. I bet no one knew of his fast falling, word vomit ways. While engaged we talked about needing to have a strong marriage foundation prior to expanding our family in any way. So, that is the stage we're in currently.
How did/do your parents feel?
You may have to be more specific. How did my parents feel about which part? The age gap? The fact that the man I was seeing had four children? The part about leaving my career after dating said man for five months? Here we go:
I love this question. The first person to ever ask was Matt! My first ever answer was, "Oh! I didn't tell them we're seeing each other yet." He understood and one week later asked me to tell them. I told my dad (Bob) first over a daddy-daughter lunch date. Giving clues, my dad quickly asked me if the person I was dating had children. When I affirmed, I included a fun fact: that we also share the same last name. "It's not Dr. Matt Boland, is it?" He asked. "It is." I said apprehensively with a smile. Not that I expected my dad to care, which he didn't. He was surprised, and asked about the age gap. (It's seventeen years.) Then, in his softest and most honest speech, shared that the age didn't bother him a bit, but he stressed hopes that I know the kids come first. I said I understand and he cracked the standard, "Wait until your mother hears this!"
A couple days later my mom (Renee) and I were participating in a Mother's Day video for one of my work projects. Renee is not one to party, especially during the week, so it took some convincing to get her to have a cocktail with me after the video shoot. We sat at the bar and I asked her if she had any idea who I'd been seeing. "I've got an idea, but, well ... It's out there!" I laughed at her disclaimer and asked her if the man she's got in mind shares our last name. She said yes and I shook my head yes as well. "Oh my gosh. Oh my goodness." There was a long heavy and deep breath taken simultaneously between us. She was taking it all in and I was imagining her wild running thoughts. Rightfully so. She just learned the man she's been sending prayer cards to for months is dating her daughter. She too went right to the kids. "Oh Molly, but the children. They have to come first. But you also deserve to come first. But if you know this and you're ok with it ..." She showed compassion for Matt and faith in me almost instantly. (It was so loving. So Renee.) She even shared names of a few couples in our family explaining, "They are some of my favorite people in the world and they're 17 years apart." I found comfort in her anecdote.
Another week or so later, Matt and I had dinner with my parents. They had questions for Matt but didn't grill him by any means. They were both so supportive and happy for both of us. A few months in, Bob and Renee expressed concerns when I shared with them I'd turned in notice to leave work. They would call me multiple days in a row and ask me if I've really thought this through and if I'd consider working longer. But my mind was made up. I had to make the decision without them. Matt and I had to work through my decision together. Bob, Renee and I were the Three Musketeers! I liked making big life decisions with them prior to this stage of my life. So many memories and milestones revolved around the three of us, together.
Once I left work, all of my energy was consumed by trying to mentally and physically ease my way into living with Matt and the kids full time.We knew we wanted to get married but felt it was vital to establish a new normal as a family - for everyone's sake. (Drastic changes were not the way to go, we decided.) Wake up routines, bedtime routines, cooking, discipline, sport schedules, school field trips and the most difficult early days: weekends without Matt. (He works a ton of weekends.) The kids tested me like crazy. I cried like crazy. And Renee's phone rang like crazy. (But I refused to ever say the words, "I can't do this." I wondered all the time if I COULD do it though. I knew I wanted to.) Still, despite early challenges, I'm so grateful my mom never said anything like, "Molly maybe you would be happier working." She often looks back on things so the fact that she has only helped fuel me forward in this journey has been such a blessing. She does ask me occasionally if I am happy. Weekends are still wild with all of our kid and adult commitments, but they go much smoother these days. We've been in our family groove for two years. Rachel doesn't even complain about going to her brother's baseball games anymore! And Tom can can handle his socks and shoes solo even though they used to be such a frustration for him. Baby steps.
What do you do for you?
People who ask this ... God Bless you! You are are sweet and I need you in my life! I honestly do plenty for myself. More than my mom ever did, that's for sure. Exercise is most important. I'm a much more pleasant human and mother when I am able to work out a few times a week. Also, this. Writing is a huge passion point of mine so being able to sit on the couch or back patio and crank out a couple thousand words feels so healthy.. I also try to go on one lunch date a week. Sometimes with a new friend and sometimes with a friend I've known for a long time. As you can imagine, a lot of my relationships are going through intense transitions, so I'm doing what I can to nurture as many of them as I can with quality time. Sometimes I take myself out for a meal. (Eating alone is an empowering past time.) Matt and I also try and go on dates as frequently as possible. It used to be once a week which was glorious but now it's more like once a mont. I'll take it! Life is nuts around here.
It's fair to say I struggle with identity mildly. I had the single girl life down! My career was everything to me at the time. Now, I have five everythings named Matt, Jack, Rachel, Tom and Sam. Their roles in shaping my new identity never cease. I'll have this life down too, though, one day, right?
Do you cook everyday?
Hell no! Is that a joke? We've got stuff to do around here and the kids have only recently stretched their taste buds beyond white rice and chicken nuggets. I cook way more now than I used to though. Matt and I enjoy cooking together. It's fun sharing the kitchen.
Our sweet nanny, Laurie, helped me get started on cooking for a family of six with the help of a slow cooker called the Ninja.( I was previously and primarily used to cooking for one.) This thing and its recipe book has been so handy. The kids love the pulled pork sliders! Matt loves the short ribs.
Are you going to make changes in the house?
I've made some already! Remodeling the master bedroom while Matt was away on a ski trip was a blast.(No, he didn't know. Yes, it was a bold move but it went over well.) It's been pretty touch to take pride in our home actually. It still doesn't always feel like home to me. Things will take time. I get all the feels when good friends of ours tell me to "slap paint on the walls and redo the artwork and make it Molly's world. I want that for you."
First of all, I'm a bit of a minimalist. There is nothing minimal about four children and everything that comes with them. Nor is there anything minimalist about the hoard of Matt's childhood, adolescence, college, navy and med school day trinkets and junk piles. Then add Tara's memorabilia, keepsakes, furniture and other items... Where is my stuff you ask? Not here. A lot of my stuff is still at my parent's house. I only added photos of my family to our living room bookshelves when we were having video shot before the wedding. There is a lot of space in our home. All of it is occupied. This is a fact - not a bitter statement.
Taking pride in our home is a long process, I've decided. We've also decided that any sort of remodel or expansion will likely take place after we explore expanding our family. Patience is my only option. (Although, I do have a big vision for this when the time comes!) Matt's arms are all the home I need whenever I'm missing my minimalist and clean one bedroom. Not missing in a "I want to go back to that life," kind of way. More like, missing the feeling of looking around and feeling like the stuff around me is recognizable, familiar and just plain mine.
I know when people walk through our home they wonder how I feel about Tara's photo everywhere. Matt asked me if photos of them together in our home bothered me very early on in our relationship. For those that are curious: It doesn't bother me a bit. That may seem hard to believe but I think they belong here and they'll still belong here post remodel or expansion one day if we go in that direction. Matt says he and Tara talked about changing the house one day too.
Do you feel like you're filling big shoes?
Nope! Mine sit next to hers. We wear different sizes and we are measured by the small acts of great love we perform.