The mom of two opens up about raising her two girls in D.C. as a working mom
Meghan McCain is stepping into the new year in a place of gratitude and motivation.
Speaking with PEOPLE about her new podcast, Meghan McCain Has Entered The Chat, the mom of two, 39, is opening up about how keeping to schedules helps her family of four thrive.
McCain is relishing in the ability to have "complete creative control," in her latest endeavor, which sees her sharing her opinions on politics and pop culture. As a mom to daughters Clover and Liberty Sage, the former daytime co-host says, she's learned to be "less stubborn in my beliefs."
"I think everybody's opinions are always changing and your perspective is changing depending on your life experiences. For me, I feel like it's a combination of going through my dad's cancer experience and then COVID and having kids — you feel like this is just so fragile and precious it definitely makes your perspective on the world change."
"You really have to be so patient to have kids. Every single day is like an exercise in patience and humility because you know nothing is about you anymore. From the moment I wake up in the morning [to] the moment I go to sleep at night, it's making sure my girls are okay. It's about taking care of them, feeding them, giving them baths, putting them down — books, prayers, all those things. You become really humbled in the best way possible and it certainly changes your outlook on the world."
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McCain and husband Ben Domenech are gearing up to celebrate their youngest as she turns one on Jan. 19th. The mom of two says the family is looking forward to celebrating the toddler's love for disco.
"She really likes disco music, which makes me laugh so much — the BeeGees and lots of Donna Summer," McCain shares. "She loves to dance to it. She can't walk yet, but she's standing and dancing to everything we play for her. So we're thinking about throwing a disco party for her, which is so funny. It's a weird thing for an almost 1-year-old to love, but I put Spotify's 'Best of Disco' playlist on and she's obsessed. So we're going to have some family and friends over and keep it mellow — just cake and food and family."
When she's not busy boogying with her little one, she's sharing new, special moments with her 3-year-old as she comes into her own.
"She's getting so vocal and expressive and aware of her surroundings. She's definitely becoming a little girl — she's no longer a baby," she shares.
After a proud mom moment of seeing Liberty crush potty training — a "whole team effort with my family and my in-laws" — McCain is excited to see Liberty's interests developing.
"She's really into dance right now. There's a dance class down the street from us that she goes to once a week. They have a winter camp that we took her to where she did ballet and it was Christmas and Frozen themed," McCain says, adding her daughter is making "little friends whose names she can say" at school and dance.
From dance to visiting a local indoor gym and Chuck-E-Cheese and going on "special outings" with Domenech's parents, Liberty keeps a busy schedule. Still, the mom of two says she believes in "keeping things really basic" when it comes to her parenting style.
"I feel so lucky just to have children because I didn't know if I was ever going to be able to have children. I feel so lucky to be in this really sweet spot in my life right now. I'm 39 and I'm not young anymore and I have these like young kids. I just really try and live in a moment with them and really appreciate everything, even when it's not glamorous."
Recalling a time recently when Clover was sick with COVID, McCain says, "It was really scary. She got a fever for the first time and it was just figuring that out with my husband and our pediatrician. It's so intense, but it's all part of the journey of being a parent. And I try to be there, in the moment, as much as I can."
These days, McCain admits her schedule is a little less "sexy" than it used to be, with the kids at the heart of her day-to-day. McCain and Domenech begin their days "tag-teaming" to get the girls ready, careful to split responsibilities between them, with help from a nanny when they're both tied up with work.
"Ben and I are very big on schedules and organization. For me and our life, our house, structure and organization, and schedules are how we thrive, or at least how I do, especially as a mom. I keep it regimented but not so rigid where things can't change."
McCain says that despite late dad John McCain's political career, she got to enjoy a "pretty average and normal childhood" growing up in Phoenix, a lifestyle she's working to recreate for her girls.
"My parents kept me pretty sheltered away from media stuff and it's really, really important to me [to do the same]. It's so funny because before Ben and I had kids, we made a list of things we definitely want to do as parents and like number one on the list is that we do not want spoiled kids."
It's important to the couple that their kids are "very aware and grateful of how blessed we are and how amazing our life is and that there are just so many people that have so much less."
"It's really important to me that they stay as grounded as I possibly can make them. Then I think there's also respecting my dad's story and my family's legacy."
Liberty is starting to see just that, after taking in a special family photo from the 2000 campaign trail and being able to pick her mom, then around age 12, out of the group.
"I cannot figure out how Liberty knows it's me in the picture," she laughs. "I can't figure out how she knows, but she knows it's me and she knows it's her grandfather. We cannot figure out how she figured it out. We think maybe somebody said it to her at some point. But it's going to be important for me to teach her about his life and his story."
McCain has already started that, with the girls enjoying Christmas traditions with the Domeneches and family trips to Sedona with the McCains. There, the family enjoys "swimming in the creek and all the things I did when I was little, which is so fun to relive with the kids."
"I think more than just specific traditions; it's more of the ethos that my parents and my dad specifically, shared. I can just hear my dad and myself sometimes when I talk to my kids like. I tell them, 'We're going to shake it off,' which is something he'd always say to tell us to keep it moving. There's all these things I hear myself saying where I feel like I sound like him, which has been really funny."
McCain is not here for mom shaming and appreciates the differences you hear in stories when there are conversations between parents. "Every form of parenting is great. I am not here to judge. I think everyone's doing the best they can. What works for one person doesn't work for another person and vice versa."
This year will see the mom of three focusing on a few areas of her life. Professionally, she's launching a new digital show with Kin Community. Personally, she's focused on her health and well-being as she tries to "get my life really organized" ahead of her 40th birthday in October.
"I recently saw Sara Sidner from CNN's announcement that she has breast cancer and I was really moved and touched by her words. It reminded me I need to be aware I'm hitting an age group where we should regularly get our mammograms and be organized with our health."
Among her health and family-related decisions are whether or not she and Domenech want to add one more baby to their brood.
"We're trying to figure out if we're gonna have a third kid or not. That's still a question mark," she says.
Regardless of where they land with that decision, McCain emphasizes how good it feels to start the year in a "place of deep gratitude."
"I just feel really blessed. It's really such a privilege to have children, and I know there are so many women out there who struggle with fertility issues. I had fertility issues and I really feel like it's such an incredible gift to be able to have children," McCain says.
"I'm grateful to get up every day, even when I'm tired and stayed up all night with them. I told a friend of mine that having kids is like when you're in black and white in The Wizard of Oz and then you come into color. That's what my girls have been like, for me. In a time of really deep sadness — when my dad died — I was in this intense grief that hung around my neck all day, for so long and it's really lifted with them. It's tough, but I feel really lucky."
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