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Joy, Heartbreak, Wine, and Love: An Oral History of Motherhood

Motherhood is complicated and multifaceted, so with gratitude to the mothers who are part of the YTTP family, we invited them to break it down for us themselves. Here, they write on motherhood, its joys, fears, hopes, and heartbreaks, and what they need most. 

WHAT DOES MOTHERHOOD MEAN TO YOU?

Krystin Phillips, Senior Regional Sales and Education Executive: Motherhood is my greatest achievement. It’s a full-time non-paying job, like being a superhero, but is so worth it; you realize that you are in charge of shaping and molding these little minds. I pray every day that they turn into great humans. 

Jamie Somphanthabansouk, Director of Strategy + Planning + People: Last Mother’s Day, I was pregnant, a mom to two twin girls who taught me that motherhood is an incredible gift. Motherhood is also acceptance. Losing the girls in a late-term miscarriage was the most heartbreaking experience I’ve ever had to grieve—and I wouldn’t change a single thing in my experience, because I have also never felt such immense joy; the joy of knowing them, carrying them, nurturing them, and now being guided by the love I have for them is the greatest gift of all. 

Alexandra Cloyes, Director of Giving + Books: Motherhood means resilience and grace, even in the face of adversity and the unknown; it means showing courage even when you don’t feel brave; it means getting to spend your life learning to know these dazzling little people you had a hand in creating. 

Janine James, Regional Sales and Education Executive: Motherhood really is the scariest and most rewarding gift I've ever been given. Motherhood has taught me how to be proud, how to be compassionate, how to laugh, how to grieve, how to forgive, and most importantly, how to truly love without conditions.

Lisa Nestore, Co-Founder, Tuel: Motherhood means compassion and selflessness, to automatically think of my kid’s needs or wants without thinking of my own. To give everything I have emotionally, spiritually, and physically without expecting anything in return. Pure unconditional love. It also means I have to give the confidence, knowledge, and emotional tools to be a kind, compassionate person that brings love and joy to others.

Caryn Burke, Regional Sales and Education Executive: Motherhood means love to me. Having the ability to love my son unconditionally is like nothing I have ever experienced. It also has taught me to be more aware of my actions, showing him how to love and how kindness is most often the best response to any situation.

Carrie Steinberg, Director of Marketing: Motherhood is the mutual unspoken respect and understanding between moms. It’s spending an hour talking to a total stranger about their challenges conceiving, challenges with their children, or just about getting through their day. It’s extending love, love, and more love, and expecting nothing in return. 

WHAT BROUGHT YOU JOY OR RELIEF IN YOUR HARDEST MOMENTS OVER THE LAST FEW MONTHS?

Krystin: Being home and witnessing my girls taking their first steps has brought me so much joy. I'm so happy that I get to share those special moments with them. I’m in a constant state of worry about developmental milestones due to the fact that they are preemies, born three months early. 

Janine: Hearing my mother's voice on the other end of that phone call every day has brought me relief. My daughter, Milan has brought me joy. She really is my comic relief!

Alexandra: Simple and grounded pleasures. Feeling the grass under my feet and the sun on my head, sipping homemade chai, thumbing the pages of a weathered book. Pulling a chunky blanket over our laps as I read to my toddler and feeling the pressure of her little body at my side has brought me relief during this uncertain and frightening time by deepening my connection to our home, my body, and the moment. 

Jamie: Community has brought me relief. I share my experience with miscarriage because it helps me. In sharing and listening, I’ve found that it helps others too. I’m grateful for all the women who have shared their stories with me and each other. I hope more voices will continue to bring light to this important conversation and lift the shame.  

Caryn: Spending time with my son has brought me the most joy. We have been able to have real conversations, not hurried. Sometimes we can get caught up in just getting through the days, work, practice, schoolwork, etc. It's been really nice to slow down, be able to play games, and enjoy each other.

Carrie: Knowing that my son is healthy and full of joy has brought relief.

WHAT DO YOU NEED MOST RIGHT NOW? 

Krystin: I’m learning to focus on my day and lower any expectations that I had about my plans, for how I thought everything should go. I’ve also been leaning more on my friends and family for support through FaceTime or Zoom. Most importantly, I’m taking solo walks and stealing extra moments in the bathroom. 

Caryn: Right now I need patience the most. I think it’s important to remember that everyone is dealing with current events in different ways. Everyone will have good days and bad but, we all can learn to be more patient with ourselves and others!

Jamie: A hug. Always a hopeful hug (and a smile). 

Alexandra: Certainty I am not alone in craving the knowledge that my babies will stay healthy. Women carrying babies, those struggling through infertility, those yearning for a family someday, and the mamas like me who nearly bend under the gratitude that for now, our children are well—we all crave a known end to the pandemic. We are all desperate to know that our families will take the form we dream of and that they will be healthy and joyful. I’ve found that hope and gratitude are good substitutes for certainty; and when they fail, delicious food and lots of music. 

Carrie: I need wine and patience. In that order.

Janine: Patience. Hair dye. And a larger wine glass!