RRP: Being a physician, why did you decide to become a stay-at-home mom after your fourth child was born in 2004?
MA: I did not feel comfortable with someone else raising my children. I couldn’t be a mom and physician in the way I desired to be (totally invested). It is not in my personality to do things halfway. So, at some point, I had to choose. It was not an easy decision, and it was not an easy time in my life, either.
RRP: Why did you decide to become a pediatric physician?
MA: I believe it was a combination of two things. First, my high school degree allowed me to teach music in schools. As soon as I graduated high school, I started working as a music teacher at the elementary level (while studying medicine). I enjoyed working with children. Secondly, I had a pretty great pediatrician myself, whom I always admired. He worked at the hospital where I did my pediatric rotations during medical school. The whole experience was remarkable. So, I would say pediatrics was a great combination of my love for medicine and children.
RRP: You have four children: Francisco (23), Ezequiel (21), Ines (19), and Angeles (18). Your youngest will be off to college soon. How are you adjusting to becoming an empty nester?
MA: I believe I am adjusting just fine. I think I am looking forward to it. I am not saying it will be easy. If you ask me again in August, my answer might be different. I was able to be with all of my children whenever they needed me or when they wanted me close by. I helped at school functions, camped with them, drove on field trips, volunteered at several ballet dress rehearsals and performances, watched piano recitals, and chaperoned dances. I even started going to Friday night football games (football is not a sport we play in Argentina) to enjoy our boys playing in the band during halftime. I feel like I did all I was supposed to do.
RRP: What are you most proud of in your motherhood journey?
MA: The fact that I was always present in my kids’ lives. I enjoyed each of their stages. Having four children under five was draining, and I wanted to skip to the less dependent years. I couldn’t have had the kind of motherhood experience I had without the support of my husband. I owe most of it to him.
RRP: When you came to the U.S. in 2000, you were a new mom with your firstborn. How did you adjust to being a first-time mom in a new country?
MA: It was hard. I came from a large Italian-descendent family and was used to being able to ask for help immediately. My parents and my parents-in-law, together with my brothers and my husband’s sisters, were the support system I suddenly didn’t have. I had to get out of my comfort zone. We made friends in the U.S., and some of those friends became the family we didn’t have close by us.
RRP: What is your best advice for moms during the tough teenage years?
MA: My best advice would be to pray a lot. Work/talk with your husband beforehand. You and your husband have to be on the same team and act as ONE. Let your kids know what you expect from them. Set clear rules and enforce them. I am talking about curfews, phones, and social media. I grew up in a different time. We didn’t have the Internet and all the information our kids have at their fingertips now. The Internet is amazing, but it is also dangerous. You must be proactive, be up to date, and research before letting them download something on their phones. Lastly, make yourself available at all times. Talk to them, and especially listen to them. You want them to have enough confidence to talk to you when good (or not so good) things happen.
RRP: Looking back, if you could do anything differently in motherhood, what would it be?
MA: I feel like, at certain times, I put the kids’ needs before mine or my husband’s. I would have tried to balance that better.
RRP: If you had to choose one parenting mantra for yourself, what would it be?
MA: Parenting is one of the most challenging tasks in life, but also the biggest blessing!
Maria Adela Ansaldi is married to Dr. Gerardo S. Gonzalez and they have four children. The couple met in Cordoba, Argentina, and live in Montgomery.