Mothergood Feature: Janet Easter
1. Tell us about your background and a little bit about who you are?
A Midwesterner at heart, I spent nine years in New York City and co-founded a women’s magazine with the mission to help women become the best versions of themselves. I was passionate about providing alternative content that respected the dignity of women and still believe in the need for beautiful, intelligent media. After meeting my husband on a blind date and getting married a year later in Pittsburgh (crazy right?), we’ve since had three children in under three years. I no longer work and spend full-time at home with my children, Gemma (3), Felicity (1.5), and William (3 months). To say the transition to motherhood rocked my world is an understatement.
2. What do you find most fulfilling about motherhood? the most challenging?
I think what I find most fulfilling about motherhood is also the most challenging. Motherhood requires a total self gift, all of who you are - mind, body, heart and soul, for better or worse. I always thought I would love motherhood and that it would come naturally to me. I mean, I was sensitive and compassionate, I’d be OK right?
Well, my first born, Gemma, threw all my expectations out the window and I was left feeling raw and scared of the unknown. Every new stage of development was terrifying for me because what I had “read” in parenting books or saw my friends doing didn’t quite fly with her. She didn’t easily sleep, like to be cuddled, and had a difficult time nursing. Even still, she is a highly sensitive little girl who has a difficult time coping with different situations, and we are in the midst of working with her to feel out if she needs more outside help.
My experience with Gemma, as well with my other children, has required me to dig deep and give my all, even when I may not “feel” like it. I’m painfully learning that it is in giving of myself, sacrificing for something other than myself, is where true, lasting joy is to be found. Becoming a mother has, and continues to refine my heart.
3. What does motherhood look like for your right now? what do you love about where you are? what would you change?
Motherhood is full on right now. But, really, when isn’t it? I have three little ones who each need me in a particular way, on top of the basic daily needs. I’m so in the thick of diapers and potty training, it is hard for me to imagine a time when everyone can wipe themselves, ha! I literally take one hour at a time and focus on getting everyone fed, changed, and try to give each one an extra kiss or hug. Because, ultimately there are balls that are dropped, or one kid who gets the short end of the stick. But, I’m slowly learning that it’s OK.
By having kids less than a year and a half apart, I use to mourn that so and so would feel left out or wouldn’t get enough from “me.” And yes, sometimes I still feel that way, but I’ve realized how beautiful it is for them to have each other for the rest of their lives. Having siblings teaches them to communicate, to have compassion, to work together for the good of another. Even though my babes are so little, I’m starting to see the beauty of their relationships blossom, and it’s incredible to witness it grow. I love that they’ll always have each other.
Being in the baby/toddler stage all at once really narrows the focus of each day and I find myself letting go of unimportant things that used to bother me. I love that about the stage I’m in right now. It truly is freeing to worry less about superficial things and focus on what’s right in front of you, even if it’s a dirty diaper.
If I was to change anything though, it would be my attitude on some days. There is a world of a difference when I begin the day with a few minutes of quiet time and prayer, and an intentional plan to put my children first. It sounds silly to “plan” to focus on my children (and probably doesn’t reflect well on me!), but I’ve found that if I start the day off looking for every break imaginable for “me” time, I am way more impatient, short, and frustrated with my kids. By switching my focus and entering into a spirit of serving them out of love, I’m more at peace and content, as well as delighted by how many windows of time I actually do have to fill up on “me” time.
4. How have you incorporated motherhood into your identity without losing your own individuality?
I had a very difficult time incorporating motherhood into my identity at first. I hadn’t realized how much of my identity and worth was wrapped up in what I did for work. Co-founding a positive women’s magazine felt like a mission, and I was passionate about it. But, it took motherhood to teach me that I am not just what I do. Even if it is good work.
Since becoming a mom and stepping away from work, I have learned so much about myself - good and bad - and I’ve realized that motherhood forces you to live with integrity. The values and behaviors I want my children to have, I actually need to strive to live. I want my children to know their worth doesn’t rest on their career choice. It’s way more challenging that I imagined, but in a way my identity is becoming more crystalized and multifaceted.
And, although I’m in the “trenches” as some would say of the early years, I have found so many moments to celebrate beauty. I have always loved being creative and working with my hands, and motherhood has actually made me appreciate those windows of time when I am able to do just that. I’ve gotten into gardening, flower arranging, decorating, and I want to learn photography, sewing, baking, etc. I don’t feel like motherhood dampens my desire to learn new skills, but only spurs me on. I also don’t feel like I can’t go back to work in the future. Just because I made the choice to stay home with my children during their little stage, doesn’t mean I can’t explore and grow as a woman in the workforce down the road. We don’t have to do or be it all, all the time.
5. What advice would you give women who are considering/desiring motherhood?
Motherhood requires much of you, it can be intimidating and overwhelming, but it also fills your heart more than you could imagine. Becoming a mom does change your world, and always for the better.