Stacey Kline, Chair, Board of Directors for Save a Child's Heart and mom to four little ones. Stacey, recently featured in a photoshoot with Trish Mennell Photography, talks to us about all things motherhood, philanthropy and so much more.
S: There’s something really incredible about getting to be a big part of these four little lives. One of the things that I love most about being a Mom is getting to experience the world again for the first time alongside my kids, re-discovering and re-learning the things that are so understood that I don’t think about them anymore – like that the lake freezes in the winter and melts again in the spring, or where the sun goes when it sets, or that pink is made by mixing red and white. Because of them, I get to be curious, I’m reminded to look at the world with wonder, to giggle and be silly, and to see magic in things. I delight in them – in the exciting moments when they lose a first tooth or take a first step, in the in-between moments when I catch them cuddling in bed together, in the challenging moments when they’re whining, tired, hungry and grumpy (ok…not so much in these moments!). It’s all pretty rewarding.
So far, I’ve found the challenges are more about thriving in the busyness of the day-to-day and making sure they all feel they have the attention they want. Which isn’t that easy when you’re fixing one kid’s LEGO, making a snack, changing a diaper, finding a lost toy, and trying to figure out why another kid is crying…all at the same time!
S:On balancing motherhood with my career: I’ve learned that there’s no such thing as balance! It’s a standard that doesn’t really exist. Once I figured that out, the pressure was off. I do the best I can at being a great mom and the best that I can to accomplish what I’m working on professionally. That’s it.
I manage my time by creating predictability in my weekly schedule – which days I’m working, which days I’m at home, who is doing school pick up and drop off, etc. By doing that, I can focus on work when I’m working and focus on being with the kids when I’m at home – and not feel like I should be doing one when I’m doing the other. It’s not a perfect system, but it definitely helps.
I’ve also found that the more people I can bring to me, the better! We do tons of kids programs at home with friends from the neighbourhood (music, art, science, dance) – we even get haircuts at home. Simplifying the logistics of getting four kids around makes more time for everything else!
My kids are a big influence in what I’m currently doing. When Penelope (my eldest) was born, my eyes were open to how lucky we are to have access to the most amazing healthcare. I knew right away that I wanted to do something to help to improve access to healthcare for children from developing countries. I found that opportunity through Save a Child’s Heart. I now get to Chair the Board – and I get to talk to my kids about what I’m doing. I want them to grow up knowing that there are people who are far less lucky than they are, and I want them to feel empowered to do something about it. I’m hoping that I can teach them by example that they have the ability to make a difference in the world.
S: Save a Child’s Heart is an organization that provides life-saving cardiac care to kids from developing countries. We travel to these countries to screen and identify children that require treatment and we bring them to Wolfson Hospital in Israel for care – all at no cost to the child’s family.
Save a Child’s Heart operates on the principle that every child deserves the best medical treatment available, regardless of nationality, religion, gender, or financial situation. To date, Save a Child’s Heart has treated almost 5,000 children from 59 different countries.
What really attracted me to Save a Child’s Heart is that we don’t stop there.
We also train doctors and other medical professionals from developing countries, to be able to provide quality care in their home communities. As an example, we’ve trained the one and only pediatric cardiac surgeon in all of Tanzania (a country with a population of 23 million children under the age of 15!). Dr. Godwin is now saving lives at JKCI hospital in Dar es-Salaam, along with a team other medical professionals that we’ve also trained.
At the end of October, I was visiting Wolfson Hospital in Israel where we treat children and had the incredible opportunity watch, first-hand a life being saved. I was honestly worried that I was going to end up as a patient, either throwing up or passing out! But there, right in front of me on the table, was this five-year-old boy from Ethiopia (the exact same age as my son, August). I was completely enthralled. The lead surgeon was an Israeli doctor and he was being assisted by another Tanzanian surgeon who, when he completes his training, will return home as the second pediatric cardiac surgeon in the country.
I watched the entire surgery, from the first stitch to the last. I literally watched a life being changed.
Being in that room, I got to see in-person everything that Save a Child’s Heart does: addressing immediate need by treating children who would not otherwise get the care they need, and building a long-term, sustainable solution by training doctors and others to provide access to treatment at home. Pretty amazing.
You can check out more at: www.saveachildsheart.ca
S: We like classic but uncommon names, so we chose: Penelope Winter, August Wren, Matilda Rose and Hazel Darling.
Our name choices were partially motivated by the fact that my husband (Ethan) loves to get tattoos and gets a new one for each kid (which I think may be the only reason he agreed to have so many kids!). We needed names that would make for good tattoos!
Ethan was the one who suggested Penelope (he liked the song ‘Penelope’ by Pinback). I studied philosophy in undergrad and liked the reference to Homer’s Odyssey (and Ethan went for a tattoo of a boat from an illustrated copy of the Odyssey to represent Penelope).
Boys’ names are the hardest! Classic boys’ names are totally common – except for the odd one like August. I was not sold on his name at first, but I grew to really love it. For August, my husband has a tattoo of a wren – for August’s middle name - which we chose because of the fable of the eagle and the wren (a story that tells how the little wren became king of the birds by hiding under the eagle’s wing and then popping out at the last minute to fly higher than all the other birds). It turns out to perfectly represent him – a small, clever little boy who always finds his own ways to stand out!
Matilda is the only one who was named directly after relatives. Matilda (who we call ‘Tilly’ for short) was my Dad’s Mom (who was known as ‘Tillie’). Rose was my Mom’s Mom. The tattoo on this one was pretty easy – a set of roses!
Hazel was a name that was on our list from the beginning. We were actually going to give the name to Penelope as a middle name. After having three sweet babes, I knew that the fourth one would be darling – so the middle name seemed obvious. And she’s totally darling! Ethan liked the name because he could reference Peter Pan (Wendy, John and Michael Darling) for his tattoo!
S: Having four kids in six years, function definitely overtook fashion somewhere along the way. I lived in leggings for seven years. I didn’t even own a single pair of jeans! I never had a maternity wardrobe and for the most part was able to transition what I was wearing pre-during-and-post pregnancy (with a lot of help from all those leggings!). Needless to say, I got pretty sick of what was in my closet and now that I’m done having kids, I’m refreshing my whole wardrobe.
I’m gravitating towards colour and more feminine pieces over my typical preference for black and grey everything.
In picking new pieces, I’m still pretty function-focused. I want something stylish, but something that can also stand up to the insane mess that Hazel makes when she’s eating and the crazy amount of slime making that goes on in my house – because that’s my life right now!
S: Terroni. My kids devour the tagliatelle bolognese!
S: We’re all about Florida. We’re lucky to have a family place to visit there. With a short flight, no time change, a place we can leave all of our stuff, warm weather, a pool and beach right there, and grandparents to help out – it’s pretty ideal for our family!
S: I’m a bit of a night owl, so I tend to make time for myself once the kids are in bed. I’ll squeeze in work-outs before the kids wake up or in the evening. I otherwise schedule time into my week like I would an appointment – it’s the easiest way to make it all happen!
Ideal girls’ night: these days it’s sweats, wine and/or tea, a comfy couch, chocolate and good conversation (that’s uninterrupted by our little ones!)
S: To those new moms, I’d just say – whatever you’re doing is good! It took me until my third kid to stop beating myself up for not being able to get my babies to sleep well (or at all) in a bassinet or crib and just enjoy having them sleep with me. It’s so easy to feel that there’s a ‘right’ way or that other moms have everything figured out. There’s no one right way. And no one has everything figured out (even if it looks that way on Instagram!). Do it your way. Having babies and raising little kids is so much more fun, and actually way easier, when you stop worrying about the right way and just do what works for you!