Donna Ladd | Another Mother Her Way
For anyone who has met Donna Ladd in person, her value for her mom-tribe as described below won’t come as a surprise. As soon as you meet, you want her in your own corner because of her openness, kindness and humor. Within minutes, we had spoken about her adoption process with her second son which she speaks about with equal parts gratitude and honesty. She brings the same to her conversation on the choices she made in her editorial career to make room for the early years with her children and the constant learning in motherhood, especially now with two children at the pre-teen and toddler stages.
Q HOW DID YOU CHANGE AFTER BECOMING A MOTHER?
I changed in ways that I didn't quite foresee, or perhaps I had romanticized a bit of what motherhood truly encapsulates. My first born was high energy from birth, and I felt quite overwhelmed. I realized pretty early he was not going to be that chill baby that I had envisioned. I needed the people around me to get on board as having a baby was a dose of reality that this little person’s needs were now my main priority. Gone were the long conversations of family drama and my friendships changed or at least how I viewed some them; I no longer had time to work on high maintenance friendships or spend hours working something out. I only wanted the relationships that had equal energy and offered mutual support in this new world. I think this happens to many new mothers - we fear that things may change and they do as becoming a mother is a BIG DEAL, but they change for the better. Becoming a mother made me yearn for a tribe that I felt I could lean on and thankfully I found it with a group I still lean on.
Q WHAT CHOICES DID YOU MAKE TO ACCOMMODATE MOTHERHOOD? WOULD YOU MAKE THEM AGAIN?
I went back to work when my oldest was a few months old in a new position with a shorter work week. I was a magazine editor at the time and had always traveled for photo shoots and days could be long. This new position although senior wasn't on par with my previous titles, which were at the director level, so I had a huge pay cut.
I do feel that we as mothers have these career choices to make to spend time with our children. I wouldn't change the extra time I had with my son as it was such a gift to be with him. Another decision I made to accommodate motherhood was how we expanded our family. I went through some deep heartache before we made the decision to adopt our second son through the foster system. It was an intense process that changed me and made me cherish the word 'mother.'
Q DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS A MOTHER IN 3 WORDS. WHAT KIND OF MOTHER WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE?
Fierce, Nurturing and Loving.
I definitely feel that I am always working on the mother I want to be. I oscillate between being an understanding mother and being the disciplinarian. I am back to reading books on parenting to better understand the emotional rollercoaster of being a boy. I want them to feel that I get them, but most importantly I want them to grow up with strong values and to respect others.
Q HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF OUTSIDE OF MOTHERHOOD?
I recently just returned from the South of France. My husband was there for work, and it seemed crazy to not join him in this beautiful countryside. It was the first time I flew solo, and I found myself with an 8-hour layover in Scotland. Rather than sit at an airport for hours, I looked up the nearest castle (gotta love Scotland!) and went on a bit of an adventure.
Once in France, I played tourist, drank rosé and ate delicious food. It was a great way to recharge and a reminder that these trips are essential. I am also back to meditating, being more positive with myself and trying to spend more time with my mom tribe. It's not always easy carving out this time, but I am working hard to make it happen and to remember that I am a better mother when I take care of myself.
Q EVERY MOTHER NEEDS HELP TO FIND BALANCE. WHAT DOES YOUR VILLAGE LOOK LIKE?
My village here is small when it comes to family. Luckily, my brother-in-law and his partner are a few apartments down. When they aren't traveling they will step in and help with school drop-offs or pickups which helps when I have a work project or my husband is out of town. Although my in-laws live in the midwest they make it a point to visit for long periods to be with the grandkids, and this is a great help - they are the reason I was able to make my France get away happen.
My mom friends are pretty busy with their own families, yet I always know when I’m in a tight spot they will step in. This was never truer than when my youngest son was dropped off to us at two weeks old. I suddenly had a new baby, and they brought clothes, doula services, sleep rockers and stopped by so I could shower. It was a crazy time as I was still working full time and it was my brother-in-law and friends who helped keep me sane.
Q WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON IMPROVING ABOUT YOURSELF AS A WOMAN & A MOTHER?
My oldest is nine while my youngest is a little over two. The 9-year-old is really challenging these days, and I have caught myself raising my voice. I am working really hard to take deep breaths and be that mother I envisioned myself to be while I was pregnant with this pre-teen fortnite game playing sass machine. Since my kids have such a gap of age, I am tackling two areas of growth at one time!
I have had the same mom friends since my nine-year-old was a month old and now that my two-year-old is in preschool I found myself rushing in to drop off not really caring about knowing the other mothers for I’d felt like I had my tribe. It can be exhausting tackling two drop-offs at different schools, but once I started to connect to the other mothers, it has been eye-opening as it has helped me to continue to learn, grow and be open to new friends.