Laura Max Rose, a wife and mother of two daughters, is the creator of “Jewish Penicillin,” a blog addressing the adventures and lessons of motherhood.
interview by Wendy Jackson Slaton | photography by Traci Ling Photography
Tell us a little about yourself and your family
I was born in New York City and moved to Houston when I was 13. I left again at 18 to attend college in Boston where I received a Journalism degree from Northeastern University and returned home afterward to cultivate my dreams in a city that continually surprises me. Thank goodness I ended up here because I’m pretty addicted to Whataburger Spicy Ketchup (fries are just the vehicle.) I am married to my beshert (that’s “soulmate” in Hebrew) and we’re raising two beautiful daughters, Selma and Violet, not to mention our very loyal Golden Doodle, Hampton Rose.
What is your “Mom” story?
People are shocked when I tell them that I never saw myself having children. I don’t think I allowed myself to even “go there” because my mom was super career oriented and I was her only child whom she had very late in life. I didn’t really allow myself to dream outside of that example until I met my husband, who told me on our first date that he wanted to have lots and lots of children. I got nervous immediately because I really liked him but never saw such a life for myself. Once I allowed myself to see it, I couldn’t unsee it. I wanted to have a family more than I wanted anything else.
Tell us about your blog…
I started my blog “Jewish Penicillin” before I even got pregnant with my first daughter, Selma. I was excited about the idea of having her and getting to write about the adventures and lessons of motherhood, and so that blog chronicles exactly that. What I’m finding now with two girls in tow is that full use of my hands to type all of these stories out is a big challenge. I’m considering starting a podcast so I can record my stories for anyone who wants to listen.
What do you feel is the biggest challenges new mamas (dads) face today?
The pressure! We are asked to do everything perfectly, without help and with soul-crushing consequences if we fail. The stakes feel so high. Maybe the biggest gift we can give our children is showing them that we’re imperfect, and that that’s okay. We are trying to teach our children that they’re “good enough” while putting so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. It’s okay to just be “good enough.” Parenting is hard work. Give yourself and your children permission to do things imperfectly and with great love. This is what I tell myself every day.
Do you have any “mom hacks” to share?
Ha! If you have a newborn, wear him/her! Babywearing with something like the Boba or Moby wrap has made my life so much easier and keeps my hands free to care for my toddler who really needs them. Pretty much every photo of me that’s been taken over the past two months includes baby Violet snuggled on me in the baby carrier. Not sure how I would get anything done without it!
It takes a village to raise children. Describe your village.
It does! Ben and I are lucky to have so much of our family here in Houston. We’re also firm believers in date night and making time for each other, so we have the most wonderful nanny who comes every Saturday night so we can go out just the two of us. During the week, our oldest daughter is in school and our youngest will start in a daycare program soon. I think it’s so important for them to have places to go that provide structure during the week (which gives mommy time to have some structure during the week, too!) I am so grateful to Selma’s teachers for all the ways they have enriched our lives, taught her so much and helped us raise her.
How do you manage your work/life balance?
I worked throughout my 20s to set up a career that allows me to work from home. With Selma in school during the day. I’m able to get my work done here, take care of myself in whatever ways I need, and go pick her up and spend the rest of the day with her.
The postpartum stage can be a difficult for new moms. Any tips to share?
Yes! Our society is insane when it comes to taking care of mamas postpartum (we don’t.) Mamas have been through the ringer after giving birth and we need so much TLC to get back on our feet. Unfortunately, so many of our societal structures don’t make enough space for us, but wherever you can find the time and space for yourself, take it. Get help if you’re feeling sad or anxious. Postpartum depression is real (I had it after my first) and help is out there. You are so important, mama. Give yourself all the love and everything you need to know that. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re taking “too much time” or that you “should” be coping more easily. You know exactly what you need to feel better and you can give yourself all the permission in the world to do whatever that is. The better you take care of yourself, the better you can take care of your children. Having a full tank is essential. You are literally taking care of your kids by taking care of yourself! If you struggle with this, talk to people who can help you.
I now know that for every day I feel like the best mom in the world, there will be two when I feel like the worst. I have been humbled by shrill screams in restaurants, rogue bowel movements, a child that just slapped yours across the face and tantrums beyond my control. I have an understanding that while my daughters will grow and thrive because of me, she will also grow and thrive in spite of me. And for that, thank God.