If there is one thing I’ve come to learn in motherhood, it’s how necessary it is to cultivate a community or tribe of support. Our styles and choices are a varied as we and our babes are and yet we all share the joy, the grief, the struggle, the guilt, the doubt, the challenging milestones.
It is with this in mind that I begin my own twist of the social media hashtag #momcrushmonday that I would like to call #millennialmamamonday. On Mondays, I will celebrate mamas and all that these women find time for in the midst of motherhood.
This Monday, I’m showcasing a dear friend, Jena Evans-Turnbull. I recently had a chance to spend time with her at her family Lakehouse and run through the woods with her adorable son, Eli.
Since we first met, Jena has weaved into my life through time, place and people. Despite our experiences and growth, relocations and more than a decade of time, we remain close as our friendship continues to reinvent itself. One of the many aspects of her that draws me is how she can be so certain and knowledgeable about her convictions, tastes and sense of self and yet so accepting and supportive at the same time. She is thoughtful, interesting, and authentically true to herself.
Jena learned through motherhood that only those pursuits that inspire passion are worthy of her time. After experiencing the support of a doula, a woman who she now calls friend, Jena was inspired to become one herself and support other women in birth. She found herself drawn to all aspects of birth and motherhood, and trained to become a prenatal and postnatal yoga instructor. For nearly their entire year postpartum, Jena worked with a dynamic group of women and shared in the joy of their babies’ growth. “The energy and excitement from all those babies that fills the yoga room is unlike anything else.” As much as Jena is drawn to birth and motherhood, she is bothered by the shift that takes place as individuals become known strictly as “so and so’s mommy/daddy.” In her classes, she makes space for individuals to tend to themselves first so that they can go on to be the best version of themselves for their babies.
Often Jena and I meet over meals, and I’ve come to see her food choices as the cornerstone of the holistic lifestyle she practices. She and her husband grew up on a lot of junk food, and as parents they were determined to raise their son to be mindful of what was going into his body and where it comes from. “Teaching him about how good food makes us feel and the energy it gives us, instead of simply restricting junk food, we wanted him to understand why some food isn’t worth putting into his body,” she explains. I find a lot to admire in Jena, but her family’s approach to food speaks to me most as we begin the journey of feeding our son and teaching him the value of truly nourishing ourselves through food.
We create really incredible meals for the whole family; “kid food” has never been something we offered at our table.
Again, returning to the idea that a woman can be more than mother, and pursue her own interests and growth, Jena has been taking a course on the social constructs of sexuality. In doing so, she has found herself becoming more aware of how our idea of what is “normal” is fabricated. Using these invented guidelines to evaluate behaviours and lifestyle choices alienates anyone choosing to live outside of those arbitrary boundaries. As her friend, I am grateful that she chose to grow her mind and perspective in this way. Not only does her conversation simulate my own thinking as we challenge each other and what we see around us, but this enlightened thinking holds the possibility of affecting change to how both our sons will come to regard sexuality. This is badly needed in a world of devaluing, addiction, and misunderstanding. In this way, and in so many others, women who take the time to grow outside her role as mother pass on a richness of life to their children.
You know the saying, ‘Your vibe attracts your tribe”? Well, I’m so glad life has brought Jena to me so many times as we both grow into ourselves. I hope you too will find some inspiration here. Here’s what Jena had to say in response to my ten questions.
1. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Overnight oats with blueberries and maple syrup.
2. What have you heard or read lately that inspired you?
I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic in the autumn, but it resonates with me everyday, I find myself referring to chapters when I fall into self doubt.
3. What three things do you take to your desert island (unfortunately John Krasinski isn’t available)?
Books, a hammock and some wine – might as well make the best of the situation.
4. What song are you playing on repeat?
Francoise Hardy. I’ve just been exposed to her music and now I am devouring anything I can find.
5. What’s something Eli has said or done lately that has you laughing/crying/feeling the warm fuzzies?
He looks me in the eye and says “I love you to the moon, kid!”
6. Something you can’t live without?
My family obviously, but also Books! I get really anxious and moody when I don’t have something really great to dive into.
7. What are some of your favourite things about motherhood?
The power and confidence it gave me to go after the things that really matter. To fight hard for the things I believed in, for the sake of my son, but also my own sense of self. I felt really strongly that I could no longer waste my time and energy on actions or people that weren’t working toward a positive fulfilling life.
8. Which accounts do you follow on Instagram that are worthy of those new annoying post notifications?
Honestly I follow some really incredible accounts. But those notifications are far too obnoxious. I believe that if the posts are interesting and they interact with their followers, then nothing will be missed.
9. What does self-care mean to you?
This is a little tricky. While I believe self care is important, I think we might be getting carried away with what that is “supposed” to look like. It becomes a challenge in and of itself, yet another thing to be checked off a successful mother’s list. To me it’s much more simple – for me it looks like this: while I have my ONE cup of coffee in the morning, nothing else happens until I am done it. That’s it, no exceptions. Sometimes I take really long showers or refuse to have anyone in the kitchen while I make dinner, blasting whatever music I feel like that day.
10. What are some challenges you face as a mother. woman, and creative trying to balance each?
It’s hard not to be able to work the moment I am inspired, I have a hard time not getting frustrated when I can’t stop and work. Often I have to wait until Eli is asleep for the night which can be stressful. Sometimes it’s hard for the outside world to remember I am my own person outside of being a mother, so there is this on going battle to be my own person, while being present for my son. Plus, you know, mom guilt.