Welcome to the Super Mama Series! I created this as a way to showcase actual messy-but-beautiful lives of women who are mothers and live creatively. By no means are any of us perfect, but we are striving to do our very best. Super Mamas are women who mother sacrificially, love deeply, and acknowledge their weaknesses gracefully.
Meet Super Mama Danielle Reynolds. She is a wife, mother, mental health counselor, and life-long student. Balancing her roles hasn't been the easiest; however she feels blessed to be afforded the opportunity to live abroad with her sweet baby and loving spouse. She is a gardener, urban farmer, and caffeine connoisseur.
ON MOVING ABROAD WHILE NEWLY PREGNANT
"I found out I was pregnant shortly after a moving company took all my household belongings and put them on a freighter to be shipped to Germany. I was living out of a suitcase, and staying with some friends while my husband and I transitioned to our new life. In that moment, the only thing I had a grasp on was enjoying the last few weeks we had in California and visiting our favorite spots one last time.
The uncertainty of what lay ahead was nothing compared to finding out I was going to be a mother. As many mothers would say, this was one of the most pivotal moments in my life. For fear of sounding disheartening, let’s just say I didn’t respond too well and took the next 7 months to prepare for the obvious. After moving to Germany I continued to live out of my suitcase for the next 4 months. I will forever be grateful as that bag held all of my essentials as I was crumbling from the stress of rearranging my life.
Living in Germany has reminded me of the importance of really living my life. The culture as a whole stresses wellness and goes to great extents to ensure every member of the family is on board. Imagine this: on Sundays nothing is open except for small beer gardens or restaurants. It’s family day, and everyone goes out for a walk or visits the local town fest. One whole day a week is spent in self-care. Now, why in the States are we pressed to get as much done as we can so that we are ‘ready’ for the work week? At first it was an adjustment, but the importance of one day per week being dedicated to family and relaxing is something I can wholeheartedly absorb."
ON THE WORK-LIFE JUGGLE
"For the past two years my life has been on fast-forward despite how much I combat slowing it down. My morning mantra: watch me go! A typical morning for me is waking up, taking care of the dog and chickens, dancing with my little one, breakfast for the fam, a load of wash, reading/ preparing myself for clinicals, and then finally shower and momma time all before 8AM. Then I’m heading to hospital, specifically, the largest Outpatient Mental Health clinic outside the States, to see my wonderful hardworking patients.
I try while I am at work to catch up on school or upcoming assignments. It’s much like the saying goes-- borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. Then a few nights per week I have night classes. So it’s sweet dream kisses for my little one, and few minutes with my sweetie before I either dive into school work or head to bed from my long day. Tracking all of my responsibilities is my constant struggle. I had to cut out the extra fluff (friends, play groups, hobbies) so I could spend some uninterrupted time with my little one and my husband to cook something nourishing for the family.
I have to constantly remind myself I CHOSE THIS, but looking back on all the chaos, I would do it again. There were many, many nights that the struggle was real and I wanted to throw in the towel. The most rewarding part in all of this was discovering my drive. I never gave up. Never, not once. I learned about my own character and tested my limits. These are lessons I will encourage my own daughter to explore since I became a stronger, more dedicated version of myself.
There are of course many moments at work when I give myself the biggest air high 5, specifically when my clients have that “ah ha” moment. It’s like I’ve been planting the seed, watering it, and then I get to watch them grow. Showing up to one’s life takes some real strength, and to be part of the change process is an honor."
"I [still] see myself as the wild, passionate, light hearted, free spirited being that I was before having Maeren Pine. Now, I get to continue life’s adventures only with a little one as my road dog. Motherhood permits me to accept the chaos. Before Maer was born I thought I would never be one to have a played-in looking house. Now, the toys, books, and mess on the table remind me that we transition from room to room in search of adventure, not on a mission to constantly keep the house spotless. Only after the little one is tucked in bed for the evening do I then bother cleaning and straightening. I’ve had to adjust my sails to combat the storms of having a strong willed little one.
It took me all of 15 seconds to realize I would die for her. I wish I knew before I found out I was pregnant what eternal love really felt like. I am one of the lucky ones to be deeply in love with my spouse, however I never knew the depths of love for another human being until I grabbed her and held her close to my beating heart. The unconditional love gets to me [as the most rewarding thing about motherhood]. The trust the Maer puts in my husband and I is so strong. For her, Momma and Dadda can do no wrong.
One my most beloved books is Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I appreciate the message Sendak promotes; a message of unconditional love, a message that even if one misbehaves, there will be supper waiting on the table (Max does get sent to his room, but no matter how much he has misbehaved, his mother will always love him and cherish him)."
"I love waking up a few minutes earlier than the rest of the fam to catch a breather and to set my vision for the day. Even if it’s 10 minutes, I get to brush my teeth without my little one getting into my bathroom cabinet, and then I get to tiptoe into the kitchen for some tea or coffee, and lots it. The quiet helps me to recharge and bring a mindful focus to my daily tasks.
I love a lazy Saturday morning. [Usually] the family sleeps in till 8:30 and then we all slowly wake up and cuddle until the rumble of our tummies drags us out of bed. We love heading to the bakery to grab a fresh made rosinenschnecke (raisin bread pastry), bread, and groceries for the rest of the weekend. Here in Germany, hitting up the bakery is a daily occurrence because the bread is still made with 3 or 4 simple ingredients and goes bad within a day. The rest of the day is best spent at home playing outside and allowing momma time to catch up on school and cook something the family can look forward to."
ON HER STYLE & BEAUTY ROUTINE
[Beauty routine favorites include] Emu oil. I love how my skin responds to such a basic treatment. Its anti-inflammatory properties help to soothe my skin, relieve inflammation and fine lines. Rose water facial toner- another classic. The smell brings reminds me of my Grandma's hugs. Tarte tinted BB cream- I will admit I haven’t completely researched everything in this but the coverage is great. Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder and Secret Concealer- My very good friend turned me onto the skin care line. These products help to create a flawless look-- like I’ve slept a full 8 hours. Perfect!"
ON MEALS, REMEDIES, AND QUALITY TIME
"My family has been vegetarian for a whole year now. I have to admit I’ve never felt so healthy and light. My go-to meal for the week is most likely some sort of curry dish with lots and lots of veggies, or a roasted veggie and pasta dish. I have about 30 minutes from start to finish to get food on the table so whatever it is, it has to be nutritious and relatively quick.
I consciously choose to raise my daughter with as minimal exposure to toxins as possible. From cloth diapering, extended nursing, co-sleeping, to GMO free food, we try to give her the healthiest head start. It is a lot of work at times, but we have learned the bigger cost it has on us in the long run. So when I see how healthy she is, it reminds me that even if it takes a little bit longer or a little bit more effort on our part I wouldn’t trade my alternative parenting style for the world.
[Our favorite spot to go as a family is] North Hero Island, Vermont. ILOVERMONT and it will always have my heart. It’s visually breathtaking, agriculturally masterful, and full of excitement. It has a hopping nightlife and quiet gateways, not to mention it has been my family’s summer hideaway since 1940. No one does living better then Vermonters."