Super Mama Series: Janet Easter
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.
Janet Easter is the co-founder of Verily Magazine, a fashion and lifestyle website that seeks to help women become the best versions of themselves. An Indianapolis native who spent nine years in New York City, Janet recently settled in Sewickley, PA with her husband Brian and sweet daughter Gemma, where being a full-time mama has been a crazy, beautiful, refining adventure.
"I didn’t think I could get any more sensitive, but I remember coming out of the post labor fog (it took me three days) and being overwhelmed by the goodness of our baby girl. It was a moment of pure grace in which everything was heightened and I became acutely aware that I was her mother and I needed to be a better person for her sake. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, I realized the issues I struggled with before I became a mom were still ever present; my selfishness, vanity, you name it. Gemma brought those weaknesses to a brighter light and incited me to face them. It’s difficult to do that for yourself, but much easier to do it for another, especially your child who relies on you. Children really do refine your heart, and Gemma is teaching me to keep moving forward in love.
I also felt deeply connected to other mothers and children, for better or worse. My heart literally ached for those who struggle or are alone in motherhood. The suffering of any child always pained me, but since becoming a mother I also overwhelmed with compassion for little ones. A baby is a complete and utter gift. Knowing I was given this little soul to raise and love is staggeringly humbling.
I’ve always heard motherhood was hard, so I wasn’t disillusioned, but I think you just can’t know until you’re in it. Becoming a mom (a life long process!) is by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. It has stretched me in ways I didn’t think possible. I wish I would have heard, “Be kind to yourself. It’s OK if you don’t feel great, it’s OK if motherly instincts aren’t raging, it’s OK if you feel like giving up some days.” I know the experience is so unique to each and every woman, and we do need to celebrate the raw beauty and joy of being a mother and raising a family, yet we also need honesty and compassion if we’re not to feel alone in the great task.
I felt prepared for labor and ended up going natural for 22 hours, but I really struggled with parts of it that I’m still having to work through. I think knowing that you can be physically, emotionally, and spiritually “beat up” from the experience and that sometimes you need to talk to someone about it is important.
I don’t think I necessarily got outright “bad” advice, but I didn’t realize how much pressure there is from all the conflicting ideologies on labor and raising babies: natural vs. medicated birth, attachment parenting vs. crying it out, nursing vs. formula, to wear your baby or not, and it goes on and on. I was overwhelmed and had to learn things that were best for our family the hard way. I think it can be dangerous to latch on to one of those ideologies so tightly that if it doesn’t quite work out (because every baby is so different) than you feel like you failed as a mom, which I definitely went through. The best advice I heard is simply “You know what is best for your baby. Trust yourself.”
[The best purchase we made for our daughter]: a baby carrier. Although Gemma wasn’t so much a cuddly babe who loved to be attached to me all day, we have a simple Baby Bjorn carrier and she goes bananas every time she sees it. Gemma prefers to face outward to see the world. That carrier has made so many outings possible! I’m not even sure how I would grocery shop without it."
ON THE WORK-LIFE JUGGLE
"I’m still learning how to transition. You get so used to doing things on your own time, whenever you want, how ever you want. I can’t do that with Gemma. I haven’t set an alarm for 9 months! I thought the days would be much slower and monotonous, and sure there are a few days like that, but typically the time flies and I’m wondering how it’s already time for dinner.
I actually was looking forward to living a simpler life and focusing on raising a family. So, I was surprised to feel busier in a way, I guess it’s a different kind of “busy,” a different job that still takes all your energy.
Brian and I have to check in with each other every couple of months to evaluate where we need help with Gemma, the house, and balancing our lives. Recently, we’ve worked out that Brian will get up with Gemma in the morning (while I make coffee and get ready for the day) because by the time he gets home from work, we start her bedtime routine and he misses out on really spending time with her. I’m with her all day throughout the week, so the morning/bedtime help is crucial. He also really steps in to help on the weekends so I have time to recharge. We try to switch back and forth for those recharging opportunity’s. If he got to go fishing last week, I’ll go antiquing this week, etc.
When Gemma was a newborn, I downloaded MammaBaby which came recommended to me by tons of moms, but I could never remember to have my phone on me at all times! I’m an old soul and resorted to taking notes and writing down times of her feeding/naptime. I liked having something concrete in my hand."
"In order for me to recharge, I have to have no plans, no agenda, no schedule, no expectations. I’ll try to block out a morning or afternoon on the weekend to do nothing – which may mean starring into space on the couch (ha, seriously), baking banana bread, working on Gemma’s Christmas stocking, or wandering around thrift shops.
Honestly, I’m terrible at getting a grip in the midst of chaos, so I’m trying to be proactive and start my day with even just five minutes of prayer and spiritual reading in the morning during Gemma’s first nap. I don’t always remember or prioritize to do it, but it makes all the difference in the world.
I have the most sensitive skin and have struggled with acne my whole life. I’m going to sound granola here, but recently I’ve been using raw honey to wash my face and use coconut oil as a moisturizer. I still have my hereditary/hormonal breakouts, but my skin has calmed down so much and the texture has changed tremendously. bareMinerals bareSkin Pure Brightening Serum Foundation has also changed my skin’s life. I use a foundation brush to buff it in and it really evens my skin tone and minimizes my scarring. L’Oreal Double Extend Lash Extension Effect Mascara has been a mainstay for years, and a little bit of Chanel No. 5. My mother wears it and my namesake grandmother wore it, so that definitely has an emotional tie for me.
Oh gosh, I have six chambray shirts in my closet right now. Dark or black jeans and a chambray top, booties or Birkenstocks. I don’t even wear jewelry anymore except for small studs, it’s just not worth it with a curious babe who loves to grab anything dangly! There are days I wish I could get more creative or put more thought into what I wear. I definitely feel like I’m in a fashion identity rut as I transition into motherhood. Even though chambray’s been around for a while, I still feel like it’s a safe bet.
I definitely don’t find time to “take care” of myself in ways that I probably should. Just the other day, Brian made me go to the mall to buy a few things I needed. He actually had to force me to get out of the house. I think the first step to caring more about self care begins with an interior transformation for me. I need to recognize that I’m worth spending time on to be the best version of myself, inside and out."
ON FAMILY TIME
"We have yet to brave really traveling with Gemma except for holidays and family reunions. But we love to go back home to my parents’ house in Indianapolis. My mom and dad help out so much that it’s truly a restful time for us. Whenever we do travel though, I always have a bit on anxiety because it definitely takes Gemma two days to get used to a new place and nights can be pretty rough.
[On a perfect Saturday we love] coffee on the front porch and a trip down the street to our local farmer’s market in the church parking lot. We bring home produce for Brian to make one of his ridiculously good omelets. More coffee, then a walk in the nearby beautiful trails. I’ll sneak in some errands and then end the night with cocktails and Netflix.
Gemma can’t get enough of “Little Owl”,“Little Owl’s Day”, “Little Owl’s Night” and “Little Owl’s Colors.” She’s so funny and peculiar about which books she wants to read. While I can’t wait til she’s old enough to read “Brother Sun, Sister Moon. Saint Francis of Assisi’s Canticale of the Creatures.” It’s an absolutely gorgeous book with beautiful illustrations. We’ll have to wait to Gemma can refrain from grabbing the pages Playing under the sheets with Gemma. She cracks herself up and is learning to play hide and seek. We’ll throw her on the bed and she’ll flap her arms and squeal with delight. I can’t get enough of it."