Mom of Fame – Jeanne: Parenting Vs Grand parenting

We had the very unique opportunity to gain an even greater perspective of motherhood through Jeanne. Jeanne answered a different set of questions for us as she is mother to four and grandmother nine.

She talks about the joys and fears that come with being a grandparent and how one of her greatest joys is watching her adult kids parent. She speaks open and honestly and we are sure most grandparents can understand and agree with what she is saying.

Thank you so much to both Jeanne and Leah for meeting with us in November and to Geraldine Ralph Photography for taking some amazing photos of the three girls.

Welcome Jeanne to the Mom (and Grandma) of Fame!


Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family!

My name is Jeanne and I’m 62. I have been married 3 times. Leah’s dad and I were married for seven years and I had three children. Then I had another with a second marriage and we were married for about 14 years. And then my current husband and I met at work. I worked for Ford for 39 years. Pretty much right out of high school I went right into work and worked there until two years ago, September. They offered a buyout and I only had a year and half [left] to work and they offered a year and a half’s salary so I [took it]. I knew I wasn’t going to fully retire, so I went on and got some other skills. I was working at a gym already and teaching yoga and just wanted to do a little bit  more. So I’m still there teaching yoga classes and training clients.

My husband and I, between the two of us, have seven kids. So my four and he has three; two boys and a girl. We have 12 adult children with spouses and significant others and then nine grandchildren; three are in Colorado, two in South Carolina, and four are here.


What do you think has changed the most about motherhood since you had young children?

A lot! I think a lot more the roles have balanced out a little more; mothers and fathers are kind of interchangeable now, doing kind of the same thing. A lot more dads are having to step up and get involved with taking care of their kids; playing with their kids. When I was married to [my first husband] and we had three kids at home, young kids. I had them all within five years so they were all pretty young at the same time. I still worked full time and he worked full time. But it was more my job, although contributing financially, was secondary to what I had to do before I got to work and after I got home from work.

I think now, and I see with my kids and [especially my daughter’s] husband, the husband gets a lot more involved. I think [with] my kid’s generation there’s more of the father takes the kids to daycare, the father picks them up, the father’s making dinner, the father’s doing more chores. So the mother’s a little bit more, I think, financially responsible just because the cost of living is higher and childcare is a little bit more. So that’s something they have to think about. And [women are] also getting a higher education too. For me, I wanted to go back to school but it was a decision made that it’s really more important for my husband at the time to go back to school versus me getting more of an education.


What has been the most overwhelming part of motherhood for you?

Probably when I was a single mom. I had three kids under five and [my first husband] and I were actually separated when [my daughter] was about a year and a half years old. Just getting them up and getting them ready for school and having to get them to the sitter. Then go and work full time. Then come home and try and not lose control because you want to set a good example like, “I can do this, I’m strong. I can take care of my kids and I can do everything”. But at that point I was mom, dad, and financially responsible for pretty much everything. I mean there was contribution with child support and they did spend time with their dad but the day to day of getting up and actually working and coming home. And I didn’t have what my kids have now with their spouses where you’ve got the shared responsibility of doing everything. And there were times when I did lose it; and I don’t mean just emotionally breaking down. I mean having that, not anger, but losing your temper a lot easier.

What’s the best part about being a grandma?

Oh, all of it! One thing is, when you’re raising kids, and you are trying to juggle things all around, especially being a single parent for so long, you do lose your temper. And it’s almost like you have a second chance to kind of mother them a little bit. And coddle them and play with them and you have the time to do it, too. [My husband] and I are both semi-retired so we have a lot of time to sit and watch the same cartoon over and over again and it’s not annoying to read the same book a million times. Just spending that time with them. But you also come to appreciate the simple things; just the simplicity of doing those things and how important that is. It’s not like, “Okay lets read this book because I have to do this or we’ll only watch 10 minutes of the movie because then I have something else to do”. I don’t really have anything else that I need to do, it’s more important to spend the time with them. Just the cuddling with them and they kind of come to you like they know that you have stories to tell them. All of it is fantastic!


What’s the hardest part about being a grandma?

Not being in control, I guess. You hope that what you’ve given your kids and what they’ve seen from you they’re going to take on with their kids. But you see them with these little lives and these little people and you think “I know what to do!” but they don’t necessarily want or need your advice at that time. You want them to figure it out for themselves but it’s really hard to not jump in and kind of take over sometimes and just say, “well don’t worry about it, I’ll do it”. Or when they’re sick, knowing that [my daughter] knows what to do with them and if she doesn’t then she’s gonna call me.

The other thing I thought about, too, is there’s not that need [for me] because you have mom groups, and social media, and you can google pretty quick. Like, “what do I when my kid has a temperature?”. Where my generation it was like, “mom, help!” So there’s not that same need for grandma or mom to be involved. So that’s kind of a harder thing to deal with.


What has been your greatest joy?

All of it has been great; there’s been ups and downs, but spending time with my kids as adults now. And knowing now that they all have kids, for the most part, and we kind of share that commonality now that they know what it’s like to parent; and they know it’s a fun thing but it’s probably the most challenging thing that you’re ever going to do in your life. And just knowing that they might appreciate and understand a little bit more. And just seeing them; they’re all so great with their kids. It’s a little different from how I was raised and how I tried to raise them. It’s a little lighter, I guess. It’s [also] fun to go out and have a drink with them. And be able to talk to them on a different level where they understand you and you really can kind of help them and they understand more of where you’re coming from.

What has been your biggest fear?

My biggest fear is about safety and health. I want them all to be healthy and happy. As you get older and realize your own mortality, you don’t ever want to outlive your kids or grand kids. You don’t ever want to see anything bad happen to them. Like, [my daughter] was in an accident the day before yesterday and those things make you think and you pray “somebody protect her, protect all my kids”.

I’m also always telling [my daughter], “be aware of your surroundings”; with the whole trafficking thing and kids being taken. Now that I’ve got little grand kids, it just drives me crazy sometimes thinking about it and worrying. Not obsessing, but just being aware.


What advice about motherhood did you give to your daughter? Did she take it?

I’ve given her a few pieces of advice. She’s a very calm person by nature but I think the advice I’ve given her is “let the milk spill; let her get dirty; let her get paint on her hands; let her be a kid”. And not to scold about those thing, but lift her up and support her with positive comments instead of anything that might make her feel bad about herself or a negative.

Yes, usually [she does take the advice]. Sometimes she’ll be like, “mom…” She’s so good at balancing all the things she’s got going on; time for her daughter and her husband. So she does spend a lot of time with her. Like I said, she’s just calm and caring by nature so it’s nice to see her passing that all on to her daughter.

What do you think about your daughter as a mom?

She’s a wonderful mom. She is. Her and my mom were very close and I think she’s always been like an old soul. She really keeps family and being with family and making time for family [a priority]. And that means her family, the big extended family, but also her husband and her child making sure she’s got time for them. But she still takes care of what she wants and she needs in her life; like going for her masters degree now. And finding the right time for it; she waited until it was a good time to do it. Like I said, she’s great with her [daughter]. And the three of us do a lot together so it’s like keeping that bond going.


Mom of Fame – Leah: Loving Mother, Devoted Daughter & Life-Long Learner

All images courtesy of Geraldine Ralph Photography

Last month we had a crazy idea to work with Geraldine Ralph Photography and give away a mini session to one person and their best friend. We got a great response and the lucky winner was Leah!

Instead of bringing a traditional best friend; Leah brought her mom. In Leah’s words, ‘she truly is my bestie – we are very close and she was the Matron of Honor in my wedding’!

How could we say no?! This was such a special opportunity to talk to a mother and daughter duo. We could tell from the first minute of meeting Leah that she is an amazing mother. She traveled over an hour with her daughter, Aviana, and looked completely put together (coming from swim class).

We had a wonderful time talking with her and her mother and plan to stay in touch for the foreseeable future! Welcome Leah to the Mom of Fame!

Tell us about yourself and your family!

I am Leah and I work in communications. I am 34 and I live in the Lansing area with my daughter, Aviana who is 4, and my husband, Jesse. I’m working on campus right now at Michigan State University doing communications and marketing for culinary services; which includes all of the dining on campus. I haven’t always been there but it was good to come back to my Alma Mater and work there. My husband works in communications, as well, in the Department of Transportation in downtown Lansing. We have two cats; [my daughter] keeps them busy, but they’re not very fond of her! One other thing that is nice is that [my daughter] has a lot of close cousins that are around her age.


What is the best piece of advice you were given about motherhood? Did you take it? Would you give that piece of advice to someone else?

What came to my mind most, and is something that has continued throughout [parenting] was that every child is different. Especially as you are going through things like potty training and trying to get them to sleep through the night (we didn’t have any trouble with that, thankfully, she was sleeping through the night at about 2 months old!) When you’re going through any of that stuff I think you just have to realize that every kid is going to be different; they’re all going to catch on at a different time and they’re all going to get there eventually.

I didn’t always abide by that myself; especially with potty training because it took her a really long time to really get interested in it at all. And it took her a while to get to that point. We had a pretty bad incident–we were at a park and she just went and did not have a diaper on. We went to try to use the bathrooms and they were locked! So we had to change her outside and it was just a disaster. I think it freaked her out enough that it just sort of clicked with her all of a sudden and from there on out she was a lot better with it.

Yeah [I would give that advice to someone else] especially knowing that I didn’t always follow that. It’s very easy to just quickly jump to getting frustrated about it or worrying about it too much. And it can apply to so many different things like learning how to walk; and you compare your kid to other peoples kids.


How is motherhood different than you expected it to be?

I think I knew that it was going to be [emotional], obviously your emotions change a lot, but I didn’t realize that you were going to see so much of both ends of the spectrum. Like, you love them a lot, obviously. You have that extreme love part of it, but then you also have the other side. You obviously get frustrated at moments–I think my husband does more so than I do, but you definitely have your moments where you get frustrated. There have been times, too, where one of us has had to have the other one walk out of the room to just go take a minute and then come back. I think I realized that it was going to be that way but probably not to the level that it is.

What are your three strengths when it comes to motherhood?

The first one I would say is definitely communication. Because we both work in communication I think that has helped a lot. Her language development, I’ve noticed, has been a little bit faster than some of the kids in her class. And just in general she knows big words and she can use them the right way most of the time, which kind of surprises us sometimes. And also just making sure that she knows the right meaning of a word. When we realize she uses it the wrong way we just try to explain it to her a little better; use an example so that she understands more what it means.

Definitely patience. You’re put in a lot of situations, like I mentioned before, where it’s easy to get frustrated. So you just have to be [calm]. And my husband is a bit of a big kid himself. The two of them team up sometimes, and it’s all in good fun, but they poke fun at me a little bit, and I just have to roll with it.

The third one I would say is organization. I pretty much have to keep organized to stay on track. I mean I have always been that way; with work too. So keeping track of all of the activities and whatever they have going on at her daycare. They have a lot of different “Spirit Weeks” and Parent-Teacher Conferences. And I mention “Spirit Week” because I recently forgot something and she wouldn’t let me live it down that I didn’t know that it was “Princess Day”. I didn’t drop her off that morning but she got to daycare and her really good friend was wearing an Elsa dress. After Halloween I went to Target and found princess dresses that were on clearance for her to wear next time!


Describe a time when you were completely overwhelmed as a mom.

I had a really hard time with this question because I could come up with a lot. What stood out the most to me was the first few weeks; even just the time being at the hospital and the time being home after that. I think what made it the most hard was that I had to be away from [my daughter] so quickly because I ended up back in the hospital the next day. Thankfully [my mom] was at our house at the time. My husband had to take me back to the hospital because I had a prolapsed uterus. It was not fun to have to leave your baby right away but I was thankful that [my mom] was around.

And during that first few weeks, too, I had tried really hard to nurse, but I had a really hard time. I ended up with very little milk supply; if any. So just trying to do that for as long as I could but then realized that it wasn’t going to work out how I wanted it to. What I would share with other moms is you kinda have to go in to that whole experience knowing that even though you have a plan, it’s probably going to change. You think it’s going to go one way and it’s probably not going to go that way. And you just have to jump in!


Is there anything you feel you have lost since becoming a mother? What have you gained? 

I think to a certain degree, obviously, all parents lose a little bit of independence. It’s very very rare that I have a moment where I have the house to myself. Actually, recently my husband took [my daughter] up north to visit his family for a whole weekend. And I was like “I can’t remember the last time this happened”; but at the same time you feel so weird because you don’t want to be away from them. Like you enjoy that time a lot, but when they are gone you feel a little bit lost, too, and aren’t sure what to do with yourself.

I didn’t mention it before when I was talking about our family but I started a Master’s program over the summer. It’s completely online, so it’s a little more flexible, but now I feel like anytime I do get to myself I have to do my reading or do my homework. So it’s not quite the same! But at least in two weeks I’ll be done with the semester and take a moment.

I gained a little version of myself (haha). Everyone tells me that I look so much like her and if you look at pictures from when I was a baby I look just like her. There’s actually a picture [of me] hanging on our fridge at home that she took from my mom’s house and she thinks its her. I love seeing my husband interact with her, too, because they kind of have their own bond. And, like I said he’s somewhat of a little kid himself, so it’s funny to listen to them. Even if I’m in my room getting ready for the day I try to listen downstairs as I hear them interacting with each other.

What do you want your child to learn from you?

I definitely want her to learn to be kind and confident. One of the things I’ve learned just as part of my job–I have to respond to customers and most of those customers are [college] students–so you kind of have to put yourself in their position and really just try to envision how you would want that person to feel.

One of my favorite quotes is from Maya Angelou and it’s “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel”. I try to keep that in mind, even if I think the person’s situation is the most ridiculous thing.

I also want her to never stop learning. There are always different things to explore and being curious about things is definitely not a bad thing. That’s a lot of the reason why I went back to school; to keep learning new things.


What do you admire most about your mom?

What I admire most about her is her drive and dedication. And that can apply to being a grandma as well, especially when you have so many grandchildren. Anytime that we have all been together it’s fun to see the kids together but they always gravitate towards her.

And going back to the never stop learning piece…after she retired she went on to continue doing things that helped her gain more experience and more skills. So she went on to be a certified yoga instructor and now she’s also a certified personal trainer. So just continuing to have that passion for something.