MILK (mom I’d like to know) interview with Alison Birken

by Nicole Bloomberg, MBA
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Can you describe your parenting philosophy?

I would describe my parenting philosophy as “not extreme” and “not judgmental”.  I try and maintain these viewpoints in all aspects of parenting whether that be illness, diet, routines, or discipline.  With constant access to the internet, blogs, and parenting articles, there is a ton of information to read.  Whether that be styles of parenting, how to potty train, what to feed her children, or how to deal with temper tantrums, everyone has an opinion on the best parenting styles.  My goal always, in everything that I pursue, is to go with what feels right for me, and what works well with my children and my lifestyle.  With this my parenting styles are generally not extreme in my views, adaptable to constant change and the unpredictability that goes with parenting, and never judging others ways of parenting .

What are specific ideals that help manage your family?

My family is BUSY…..we all are!  Between my husband working long hours 5 days a week as a lawyer, me being a full time veterinarian running my animal hospital and Forever Freckled, and of course our most important job parenting our wild child Luke, our goal is always family first, and whatever we need to do to help each other out to get the job done.  We are a volunteer first if you are available, and divide and conquer kind of family.  Our son is a bit small to help out, but he knows once he turns 2, his job is to feed the dog and sweep up the dog hair…ok maybe 5!

How important is it to you to be a “working mom”? Additionally, how do you all manage both work and home life?

I love this question.  I am so lucky to have pursued a career that I am passionate about, that represents a piece of me, and makes me complete.  Because of this, not being a working mom was never an option for me.  But, as much as running my animal hospital and taking care of animals is one of my passions and so fulfilling, I struggle like all working moms with the guilt of not being with my child as much as I would like to be.  Ultimately what allows me to manage and feel good everyday with my decision to be a career mom is the role model and values I am instilling in my children.  Every Saturday my husband brings Luke to the animal hospital to see me.  He loves coming to the veterinary hospital.  He looks at all the animals.  He plays with the dogs, jumps up and down on the scale, and most importantly gets to see what his mom does.  When Luke is watching me help animals, I am my proudest.  I hope to teach him hard work, giving back, doing good things for people, dedication, and pursuing your dreams and passions.  I hope my career and me being a working mom serves as a role model for these attributes for Luke.

All I can say about the management part is organized chaos, a great support and team player with my husband, an amazing nanny that helped my mom raise me whom I consider family, a sympathetic and patient staff at my animal hospital, my amazing sisters, family, and…AMAZON!!!!!!!!!

If you could relay a message to all parents on Pink&Blue, in regards to parenting, what would it be?

Do what feels right and works for you in regards to parenting.  Every child is different, every person works differently, people have different views and experiences in their lives.  Do not get caught up with what people tell you to do or what should be done.   Do not get wrapped up in the guilt that you are not doing something properly, or someone told you this way.  If our end goal is to love, enjoy, and raise healthy, honest, confident, independent, good natured children, than your way is what is best for you and your family.

How has becoming a parent affected your view on life itself, and more importantly your own life?

I will never forget the day I was scheduled to deliver Luke.  I was being induced and planned on working that day at the animal hospital and going straight to the human hospital to deliver my baby.  As all career obsessed, type A personality, motivated people, everything was planned to the last final moment.  I was to deliver Luke and return to work 2 weeks later.  My office manager says to me as I am getting ready to leave, just wait….you are going to come back a completely different person. I said yea right….I’ll see you soon and make sure no one slacks while I am gone.  Well 2 weeks turned into 3 weeks which turned into hiring an associate veterinarian which turned into working considerably less hours and spending half days with my baby.  You get the point. I think like everyone who becomes a parent, your priorities change, your focus becomes your children, and they become the absolute center of your world.

Why did you start Forever Freckled?

For years we have always been giving each other advice.  Whether it is what I should wear for an anniversary dinner, how to break my child’s fever, or advice on my itchy dog. A big part of our sisterhood and relationships are about helping each other out.  As we started to establish ourselves in our perspective medical fields, our friends, family and acquaintances began to reach out to us for medical advice.  That is how Forever Freckled began.  We wanted to establish a place where people could go to and get quality sound advice, while demonstrating the love and bond of sisterhood.

What do you want to achieve with Forever Freckled?

Our goals and ideas are simple.  We want to expand our scope of advice and expertise in our careers beyond friends, family, and clients.  We want to offer the advice and guidance we give to each other to a larger audience and scale.  Forever Freckled gives our readers reliable medical advice in a fun and approachable way.  We have created a platform where parents come to get sound medical advice for their children and pets and pick up some great lifestyle tips along the way.

Why did you become a veterinarian?

The short of the long to this answer is that there was never another career path I wanted to pursue.  Since I could speak, all I ever said to everyone that would listen was that I want to become a veterinarian and help animals.  I was tunnel visioned in my goal from the age of 6.  I worked and dedicated my young years to studying diligently, volunteering my time with animals, and doing everything I needed to do to become a veterinarian.  My desire and passions to become a veterinarian just grew stronger as I become older. I am absolutely passionate and dedicated to being a veterinarian, and not a day goes by that I am not so grateful and proud that I pursued my dream.

What is your fav thing about being sisters or why your relationships are so special?

Sisterhood is a bond that truly is indescribable.  I have 2 built in best friends that I can literally completely be myself around, tell absolutely anything to without judgement (well maybe not always), and love beyond words.  Katie always jokes that if something were to happen to her, I would fall apart…and she is right.  My sisters are my laughter, my tears, my frustrations, my adoration, my pride, and my world.


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