Friday, August 12, 2011

mamas who inspire me {jillian lauren}

i was hoping to feature a mama a week, but mamas are well...busy!  although i've asked several mamas to participate, i knew that this might not be a weekly feature!  so i was thrilled to find a reply from my friend jillian lauren.  i've known jillian for a long time, but it wasn't until motherhood that we really got to know each other...jillian was a mama before i was, so i was able to watch her amazing journey unfold before we took our first steps towards having a child...

ever since i was young, i always thought adoption would be my way to motherhood...and although i gave birth to beatrice, i still feel that adoption is a beautiful and amazing gift and it could definitely be a way for us to continue to grow our family.  so jillian's story is especially inspiring to me as an adoptee and an adoptive mother.  jillian is a ridiculously talented woman and wicked smart.  i love that she is brutally honest about motherhood...the ups and downs...that means so much to me.  i am constantly striving for perfection, but in motherhood that's not possible.  what wonderful gifts jillian is able to give her son: love, honesty, humility and compassion.  and what a wonderful motherhood inspiration she is for us...

have you always wanted to be a mama?
Yes! But I definitely went through some dark times in my life when I doubted that I'd ever be able to pull it off. It took me longer than most people for me to really feel like I could properly care for myself. As soon as I had a basic handle on that, I knew I was ready for my family to grow.

how many kids do you have?  tell me about him?
I have one son named Tariku Moon. He's 3 1/2 and he's already gunning for world domination. This kid is a force of nature. I generally end my days weeping with exhaustion. He loves rock music and airplanes and dance parties and anything fast and dangerous. Come to think of it, I could describe his dad with that same sentence...

tell me about your adoption story.
 Scott and I tried to get pregnant for years and it got to a point where I was at a crossroads. I didn't want to continue down the road of fertility treatments and medical intervention. I just couldn't do it to my body anymore. I was adopted as a newborn and adoption has always been something I was interested in doing, so looking into it seemed like the next logical step. I met a woman who had adopted a child from Ethiopia and as soon as I looked at her photo album I just knew on some metaphysical level that my child was there. 

I did a bunch of research and read everything I could get my hands on and then Scott and I began the adoption process. it took about two years from the time we started to the day we got on a plane to Ethiopia to pick up our son. It was the most frustrating and wonderful and painful and incredible and mind-blowing time of my life. Until now that is. Motherhood blows it out of the water on all those fronts.

how do you balance your work/life load?
That's the million dollar question. I guess I never seem to find a satisfactory balance. There aren't enough hours in the day to be the kind of mom and the kind of artist I want to be. But both parenting and making art are such integral parts of who I am that I'm willing to keep banging my head against the wall trying to find that ever-elusive balance. 

what is your favorite thing about being a mama?  how is your life different?
My favorite thing about being a mama is my son's laugh. I've never had moments of such pure joy as when we're collapsing with laughter together. My other favorite thing about being a mama is how much I surprise myself every day- both in the ways I succeed and in the ways I fail and am forced to try again. 

How is my life different? How is my life not different? Absolutely everything about my life has been transformed by motherhood. Even the things that aren't obvious. The lens through which I look at the world has been profoundly altered. 

does "alone time" exist for you?  how do you take care of yourself?
Alone time does exist for me. I insist on it. Scott is a musician, so when he's out of town it's definitely harder. But usually his one-on-one time with Tariku is in the morning, so I'll use those hours to go exercise- to go for a run or a hike and just let the early morning quiet sink in. I also try to get to the occasional yoga or dance class- not as regularly as I'd like, but I take what I can get and it makes such a difference.

tell me about your job?  how does it affect you as a mother?  and how does motherhood affect your work?
I'm a writer and a performer and I think that in some ways it's a great job to have as a parent and in others it feels practically impossible. I often work from home, so I get to see T during the day- have lunch with him or give him a kiss when he takes a nap. I wouldn't trade it, but it can be hard to work with a toddler screaming for you at the bottom of the stairs. But he's used to it by now and so am I!

When I'm performing it's harder because it impinges on our evening hours together and I feel like that's generally the time when we're most connected. But it only ever happens in short bursts. The up side of being in the arts is that when Scott and I are around, we're around more than most parents with normal jobs. And when I have down time, I make sure to spend almost all of it with him. I have very little social life and that's fine with me. 

who/what inspires you as a mother?
I am inspired by my mom friends and other mom bloggers (like you!) every day. I think that our honesty and openness with each other as moms is such an essential component of feeling connected and staving off the loneliness. I'm particularly inspired these days by other moms who are fighting to make good creative work and to get it out there in the world. 

what other projects do you have besides work & family?
I don't really have any other projects! I've been knitting the same dog sweater for three years. I guess I have waves of being into cooking and gardening, but those things fall by the wayside more often than not. 

tell me about a typical day in your life.
I usually wake before the boys and slip out to run or do a quick early-morning yoga class. Then it's back for breakfast and the morning get-ready routine, which can seem like it takes anywhere from 15 minutes to about 12 hours on a bad day. Then I write from 9-4 and take over with Tariku after nap. We go to the park or ride bikes or jump on the trampoline. Anything to try to wear him out and insure a reasonable bedtime (good luck with that). Then it's dinner, bath, books, bed. We've got a real rock and roll lifestyle around here. 

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