Real Mama: Janie E.

I “met” Janie online and have yet to have the pleasure of meeting her in real life (but I hope to one day!). She is a sweet soul and an amazing mama with a wealth of knowledge to share (even if she doesn’t think she is interesting enough).

Tell us a little about yourself…

I am a stay-at-home mama/musician/Air Force wife/vegetarian/animal lover/wine drinker/coffee addict.

Image by Tammy Odell Photography

Where is home?

Currently Anchorage, Alaska. But I’m from Oklahoma.

What are your secrets to balancing your life as a stay-at-home mama, military wife, and anything else you manage to fit in?

I think it’s important to lower your expectations and to try not to compare yourself to other people. We all want to be the woman who can do it all and sometimes that’s unrealistic. I try to let myself off the hook and remind myself that I’d rather my daughter remember me always taking time to play with her or read to her instead of constantly using my time to keep the house spotless. I may not have started Molly’s baby book yet (one of these days!) or organized the thousands of photos I’ve taken of her (it’s so daunting!), but I drop whatever I’m doing every single time she brings me a book she wants me to read to her. But what do I know? With my luck, my daughter will only remember that the house was always messy and she’ll wish I had spent less time reading to her and more time cleaning the kitchen.

Image by Trina Gibbons Photography

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My mom. I ask myself what she would do in certain situations throughout the day. She has the best advice and only solicits it when asked. She’s so good at listening and not judging her daughters if they choose to parent differently than she did. And she’s always been very sensitive and compassionate. My friend Darolyn is also a huge inspiration. I’ve always loved watching her interact with her three kids. She is so patient with them and has always spoken to them so respectfully and lovingly.

What has been the best advice you received as a mama? What do you feel is the best advice, if any, that you have ever given as a mama?

The thing that stands out most in my mind is my mom telling me to always try to understand how my daughter is feeling. When Molly is really fussy and I can’t figure out why, it’s easy to get frustrated. But then I remember my mom’s advice and I think about how difficult it would be if a new tooth was cutting through my gums or my ear was throbbing from a bad ear infection and I couldn’t communicate what was hurting.

As far as advice I’ve given, I like to tell new mamas not to get too caught up in all the stuff people tell them they need. It seems like everyone says a certain product is better than all the others and realistically, they probably only tried that one. People just seem to think the way they did things is the only way, when in reality every baby is different and sometimes you just have to figure out what’s best for your baby on your own.

Are you the kind of mama you thought you’d be?

For the most part, yes. I had these intentions of not spoiling my daughter with tons of “stuff,” but I had no idea how delightful it would be to give her things she loves. She also gets SO many cute items from family members and friends, and the piles of baby things are starting to get pretty overwhelming. Before she was born, I hoped I would bond with her, and that I would be nurturing and that she would feel comforted by my presence. Now I realize that I could have never imagined how strong that bond would actually be. I think I’m more of a helicopter parent than I thought I would be, though. I worked as a nanny for many years, and also worked a few summers in a church nursery, so I thought I wouldn’t get freaked out about stuff as easily as most first-time parents. How delusional.

If you could have lunch with anyone famous (dead or alive) who would it be?

Jesus. I have SO many questions for that guy.

Image by Christi Collins Photography

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

To be able to put up a protective force field around everyone I love so that nothing bad could ever happen to them.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

As a military wife, this question is almost impossible to answer. I would love to be living in Europe at some point. Ideally though, wherever we end up I hope to be able to stay home with my kids during the day, taking them to and from school, and then perform in a professional orchestra in the evenings. That’s been my dream for more than 15 years.

Was your birth experience all that you hoped it would be? If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?

I had a beautiful birth experience. I was induced, which I didn’t want, but we made the best of the situation and my midwife and all the nurses were amazing. My husband, mom, and youngest sister were all present for Molly’s birth, which was so special.

Image by Trina Gibbons Photography

How has your mothering evolved since those early newborn days? Is there anything, thus far, in your approach to mothering that you swore you would never do?

I think I’m less worried and stressed out than I was at first. It was so difficult in the early days, not having any idea what was wrong or how to fix it, and being so sleep deprived. It just seems to get better and easier. I thought I would never give Molly any food that wasn’t super healthy. While she does eat organic fruits, veggies, and whole grains 95% of the time, I’m not above giving her the darn Pirate’s Booty chips if it prevents a major meltdown from occurring.

Do you have a mama mantra or something you find yourself repeating over and over when times are tough?

Yes! The thing I have to tell myself ALL the time is, “Be a warrior, not a worrier.” I find myself paralyzed with fear sometimes thinking of all the horrible things that could happen and I have to remind myself to be the fearless woman I want Molly to be someday.

Is there anything else you wish to share with the Mama Say What?! audience?

I just want to implore all mamas to love and support one another. It’s so easy to get caught up in judging and competing with each other —whether it be over birth experiences, breastfeeding vs formula, discipline philosophies, etc. With all the guilt, fear, and stress we mamas experience everyday, the LEAST we could do is give each other a break and lend some help and understanding.

Image by Christi Collins Photography

By Cari H.

Cari lives in the Los Angeles area, where she was born & raised, with her awesome husband & fun-loving son (born March, 2010). She loves to read, spend time with friends, bake, travel, and photograph anything and everything. She tries to get crafty, but that doesn't always work out so well. She is the first to admit that she hates to clean her house and is always looking for ways to make it easier. As a work-at-home-mama, when she isn't chasing her toddler around she is a newborn, maternity, and family photographer and managing the day-to-day operations for Mama Say What?!

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