This week's #MamaNextDoor Jeannie Marrugo is proof that ambition and motherhood can be held hand in hand in a graceful way. Jeannie is the founder of Cafe Baby — handmade baby and toddler food delivered to your door. Below she chats about growing her business alongside her young family, things she's really good at, and that it's possible to be well put together and a mom at the same time. Her story is a beautiful reminder of the profound changes that come with parenting and that success can look different at various stages of one's life. I hope you'll love this conversation and getting to know Jeannie as much as I did!
Tell me a bit about yourself before you became a mother, and how did you change after becoming a mother?
If you would have talked to the Jeannie of 2008, she would have said she is moving away to a big city, working her life away and never marrying and having kids. Well, a few years later, I met my Venezuelan hubby and the rest is history. From the moment my daughter was laid on my chest, life has never been the same. You could say my family has made me a bit more human. I used to think life was all about working, which also defined how successful you are, but I have learned that success comes in many shapes and forms.
What does your absolute dream version of motherhood look like?
Sending my children off into the world as genuinely good people who will contribute to making this world a better place. Parenting is probably the hardest thing I have ever done, but I know it will all be worth it.
What societal or cultural messages about motherhood frustrate you and how would you like to see them changed?
I Hate (note that's "hate" with a capital "H") that society tells moms that they are supposed to be a hot mess. Yes, motherhood does take a lot out of you, but it's possible to be well put together and be a mom.
What do you do well? What’s really works for you? Do you have a secret? Your mom super power?
I am really good at putting my mind to something and getting it done. I wanted to be an architect when I was a kid and grew up and became an architect. I wanted to start a business because I saw a need in the market and I did it. I wanted to scale that business and now I'm doing it. I want to learn how to play the guitar so now I'm doing it. Staying busy works really well for me and keeps me motivated. COVID about killed me because I'm not one to sit around idly. I'm so grateful for the time but I'm ready for the pace of life to pick back up.
My secret sauce is using a digital calendar. It keeps me organized and makes me not forget anything. As soon as I put it in the calendar, it takes the mental pressure off and then I don't have to worry about remembering everything. I also use a digital grocery list so as soon as I think of something we need, I put it in there so I don't have to remember it.
My mom super power? Does keeping my kids alive count? Unfortunately, multi-tasking is my jam. My husband would lecture me for saying this, but as a mom, you're never able to focus on one thing at a time. Being able to do multiple things at once enables me to get everything done that needs to get done.
How do you take care of yourself? How do you deal with mom guilt?
I really didn't have much self care in 2020 (uh, who did?). I think I gained about 40 pounds and was borderline depressed. The clouds started to part last month and I got back into my workout routine. I go every morning before anyone is awake (hello, mom life) which gives me time to focus on myself and start the day right. I'm starting to feel more like myself and gain my confidence back too.
Ugh, mom guilt. Let it go, mama. There isn't enough space in your mental load or life for that. I actually wrote a blog about this for Café Baby: https://www.cafebabytogo.com/blogs/news/mom-pressure-is-real. To summarize what I say in the blog, don't let society, social media or Pinterest create an impossible standard for you to live up to. You know yourself. You know your limits. You know your family. You do what works for YOU and no one else. Take a few minutes to read that blog if you have time.
What’s a topic related to motherhood, or life after becoming a mother, that you wish we talked about more?
What happens after you have a baby. Literally no one talks about this and I wish everyone knew what the first few weeks after having a baby are like. The physical challenges, the emotional roller coaster, the lack of sleep. I think if all moms were armed with a set of tools to help get through this time, post partum depression wouldn't exist. Doulas are really great for helping get through this time. If you don't have access to a doula, build up a support network for the those first weeks after you bring the baby home: including your husband, family and friends. ASK FOR HELP.