In our new series, 'Little Asks', we interview parents in Maine we are inspired by. Our first feature is Rebecca Falzano of Maine, Maine Home + Design, + Old Port magazines. We were so excited that Rebecca let us ask her some questions about work, motherhood, + Maine: her answers are nothing short of amazing. The answers are real, from the heart + may or may not make you tear up (not that we did or anything..). Have a read - it's a good one.
Tell us a little about you + your daughter, Clio:
I'm the Editor-at-Large of Maine, Maine Home+Design, + Old Port magazines, + part of my job is finding + writing about Maine homes + the people who live in them. My own home is a work-in-progress in the woods in Falmouth where I live with my husband, Steve, + our 3-year-old daughter, Clio. She's a bit of a threenager right now + she runs the show alongside her furry canine sidekick, Bandit. She hasn't met an animal she doesn't like + she loves swimming, dancing, berries, telling stories, yoga, + the moon. She's named after a restaurant in Boston where my husband + I used to go to celebrate clean scans during my recovery from cancer several years ago.
What is the best part about being a mom?
One of the things I love most about being a mom is how it's taught me to slow down + soak it all up. Kids are great at living in the moment + thankfully, they're good teachers to us grown-ups. I have learned to be present in ways I never was before. I love just watching her watch something—an ant walking on the sidewalk, an airplane flying overhead, the trees "dancing" in the wind. Bearing witness to her curiosity is such a gift.
What are you most worried about as a parent?
I'm the kind of person who could go down the rabbit hole worrying about everything—her health, freak accidents, bullying, body image, guns in schools, peer pressure, the general state of the world—you name it. There's so little we can control in life, though, so I'm trying instead to focus on what we can: being kind to ourselves + others and giving her the tools + confidence in herself to make good decisions.
Is there anything you wish you had known about being a parent before you became one? Any advice for someone who is about to become a parent?
How hard the first year is! Especially those early months with your first baby when you don't know up from down + you're sleep-deprived to the point of debilitation. Clio was colicky + I feel like we didn't emerge into some semblance of a "normal" life until around her first birthday. I'm lucky enough to have an equitable partner who is a great husband + dad, + I still found it really hard. Why aren't we talking about this more? I wish someone had told me this, + yet I know I wouldn't have understood it until being in it. Forgiveness + self-care are the biggest gifts you can give yourself (+ your kid).
What is a typical day like for you?
Totally depends on the day of the week. When I'm in the office, my days are filled with meetings and catching up with the editorial and art teams of the three magazines. When I'm not, it's a mix of scouting homes, interviewing families about the spaces they live in, writing, and Clio time, which may include a walk through the Audubon, some yoga at Little, a trip to the library, and in the summer, the beach. We try to always eat dinner together as a family and then it's bath, books, and bed. We have a really fun bedtime ritual right now where we put on a song—her pick—and then the three of us have a dance party. The last three nights it's been "Who Let the Dogs Out."
How do you juggle work + having a child? How do you find balance?
I've worked full time since Clio was 3 weeks old. I was able to work from home when she was a newborn, but I felt that my attention was always split. I'm grateful now to have a position that lets me work more flexibly, so that I can spend more time with her. I'm also grateful for wonderful childcare! A lot of what I do involves being curious about Maine, so work + life get blurred in this really natural way outside of a traditional 9-5. I work really hard + then when I'm with her, I am fully with her. I think this idea of "balance" that we feed parents is a bit of a pipe dream—the scale is never at perfect equilibrium. Once I started pursuing being present over perfect, the balance thing worked itself out.
What are some of your favorite things about Portland? About Maine?
My husband + I lived in New York City before moving to Portland, + it's been interesting to watch the city grow + change over the better part of a decade. My favorite thing about this city is that so many people are making things here—whether it's art, food, clothes, cocktails, coffee, buildings, furniture, music, better communities, etc. Maine inspires people to be industrious + entrepreneurial in ways unlike any other place I've lived.
What would a perfect day in Portland with your family be?
It would start with some breakfast sandwiches from Tandem Bakery (a "cheddar B" for Clio), + then maybe a visit to the Portland Museum of Art, browsing at Little (obviously), poutine + paninis at Duckfat for lunch, an iced chai + banter from the folks at Bard, + then a picnic + some playground time on the Eastern Prom. That's a long day with a three-year-old. How about two of those things.
What are the top three things you would tell someone who has never been to Portland that they must do while here?
1 - Take a ferry ride + get yourself out on Casco Bay to see Portland from the water.
2 - Have a drink at any one of the restaurants you've read about. Then have dinner at another. Then wander into someplace you've never heard of before.
3 - Pack a picnic + sit on the Eastern Prom.
How do you keep your home kid + adult friendly? How has having a child affected your style, good or bad?
We haven't done much childproofing at home, beyond putting up a gate at the top of the stairs + popping in some outlet covers. We've taken the approach of teaching her what she needs to stay away from + giving her plenty of safe spaces to play. We've painted a couple chalkboard walls, which she loves to draw on, + she has a little art table in the kitchen. I recently turned her closet into a tiny playroom, where her toys can go, out of sight, when she's done playing with them, + she treats it like her own secret fort.
I don't know if my style has changed, but my approach to how we keep our home has. Simplicity is key nowadays. You accumulate so much with kids + it can take over your life. When she was first born + still in our room, I remember feeling completely overwhelmed with baby paraphernalia covering every surface. When she finally moved into her nursery, I got on the less-is-more train. These days, it has to be practical or meaningful to make its way into our home and closets.
What is Clio's style + personality like? How do you raise a child with individuality + continue to foster that?
Clio's style is all her own. Lately she insists on picking out her own outfits— by "outfit" I mean layer upon layer upon layer:leggings under skirts under dresses, a t-shirt then a long-sleeved shirt then a sweatshirt, every accessory imaginable (headband, bows, her "jewels"), + shoes. All at once. She's so proud when she emerges from her room. It's fun to watch her express herself. My husband is an extrovert + I'm an introvert + I see a little more introvert in her right now. It takes her a little while to feel out a situation. She has a great sense of humor + is very in tune with others. And she is super determined and knows what she wants. We try to foster her individuality by listening + paying attention to what she gets excited about. She was into outer space for awhile, so we got a couple books + a poster of the planets + started looking at the stars together. She loves music, so we listen to all kinds, constantly. I think as important as instilling a sense of individuality in her is instilling a sense of her place in the community as well + teaching her about different cultures + the world at large.
What are you most excited about right now?
Summer in Maine! The fact that a beach bag with shovels + pails + bathing suits + towels is in my car at all times right now.
If Clio could only have one thing from Little, what would it be?
Something from the Maileg collection. She's obsessed with those little bunnies + mice. Whenever she gets a new one, she introduces it to the others in her collection. "Look everyone! Meet your new friend!" It's pretty cute.
Thank you again Rebecca for letting us take a peek into your world. We not only hope people from out of town take your advice on Portland, but those who live here too. Enjoying your city with fresh eyes is such a great thing to do!