Jessica Lavoie – Mommy, Model, Photographer and All Around Amazing Soul
Jessica Lavoie is a mommy, model, photographer and all around amazing soul.
Watching her journey take her into motherhood has been absolutely joyful for all of us who know her. How does Super Mom do it all and what advice does she have for us? We sat down with Jessica and shared a special day on set with her…
During pregnancy we make all sorts of assumptions about motherhood, and we have endless amounts of advice and stories from our family and friends.
How would you describe motherhood?
Motherhood is the most joyous, humbling and selfless experience I can imagine someone having. For me, it’s filled with unconditional love and endless laughter, and is also the hardest work I do, all day, every day. If you do not have a sense of humor, think twice about becoming a mom! Motherhood has made me fearless in many ways, but it didn’t come easy at first. I learned from watching my friends raise children before me. So many times a day I tell myself “I seriously have no idea what I’m doing here!” And I don’t! But decisions have to be made, and things have to be taken care of. And you just do it. You get it done. No matter how exhausted I am or how worried I am about making the wrong decision, I just make it happen.
As a model and photographer you have a busy schedule, can you speak about being a working mother? (Mom guilt pangs and separation anxiety…)
I love being a working mom for the most part. I have two careers, and I feel good about providing for my family. I realized early on that working 2 jobs was not going to be easy for my family and me. To make things work, I save a couple of days during the week to spend with my son, and balance out my workload on those days by editing, returning emails, etc. while he is napping in the afternoon. If I do end up having to work on days I planned to spend with him, we usually still spend the morning together at the park and playground, or at a class, and then I’ll have a sitter come for the afternoon, and I will go to bookings or do a shoot then. It really is all about finding what works for YOUR family. Gratefully, as a model and photographer, I have a flexible schedule. On days I am working close by, many times I’ll run home to eat a quick lunch with my son before he goes down for a nap, and then I run back to work. All the little moments I spend with him add up and to me, and this helps alleviate the “Mom guilt” of spreading myself too thin between responsibilities.
Finding balance between work and taking care of ourselves can be difficult for many of us. How do you manage and do you have any tips for new moms?
When I am working a lot, I find things I can do with my son so I can still get things done but also spend time with him. When Jackson was 3 months old, I found an incredible program called Moms In Training, a part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and it was a way for me to socialize, get workouts in, and also spend the time with him. MIT is all about meeting other moms, keeping fit, and fundraising to fight against cancer. It was the perfect fit for us! Jackson would come with me to workouts at the park, where I met other moms who were in the same boat of trying to find time outside of work for themselves, and doing it for such a great cause was the best motivator! So, my tip for new moms is to “find your tribe”. Reach out to other mothers in your community and make the effort to get out of the house and make friends. Whether your goal would be to find moms that you could work out with, moms you can drink wine with, or moms you can go to mommy and me classes with, it’s important to know you are not alone! You can let loose and be honest around other moms because they “get it”!
Postpartum or feelings of loneliness are very real after giving birth. Did you experience this and how were you able to get through it?
Postpartum depression is a very real thing that not a lot of people talk about, probably for feeling ashamed. I think most people, myself included thought that everything was going to be just fine after giving birth, but once you add in sleep deprivation, not eating right, and not taking care of yourself because you are so worried about taking care of this new little human that needs you, things can spiral out of control quickly. The shock of enduring sleep deprivation, difficulty nursing, and not being able to take care of myself physically after giving birth was so exhausting. Personally, I let my own physical and mental needs slide right to the bottom of my to-do list. With my doctor’s help, I decided that medication was the best choice for me to feel like myself again. I believe that the best mom is a happy mom, and reaching out to my doctor and husband for support got me back to feeling like “me” again!
I often have to travel for work and this is the most difficult time for me. How do you prepare to be away from the family unit?
When I travel for both a modeling shoot or a photography job, my family travels with me if at all possible. If for some reason we are unable to be together, we FaceTime and send photos back and forth after a day on location. I’m that crazy person in an airport unapologetically making silly faces and noises into my phone at my son and having full on belly laughs without a care in the world. It’s family first for us, and nothing else is more important to me than keeping that connection between us when one of us is not there in person.
As mothers we often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be absolutely perfect. Society also expects us to be Super Moms. Do you feel like we can have it all?
Most days, perfection to me is just getting out the door without peanut butter smeared across my clean shirt, and bonus points for remembering to check my shoes for Cheerios or race cars that my son hid in them before I put them on! As the mom of a very active 2-year-old boy, I am in survival mode most of the time, and there is no time to worry about society’s definition of perfection, which is completely unattainable! We have enough to worry about, and if at any time I actually do look like I have it together, I promise it didn’t happen on purpose!
I think the definition of “having it all” is a personal one. Right now, especially while my son is young, it’s important to me to be selective about the work I accept so that I can spend more time with him. I’m never going to get these early years back, so this is why I make priorities as to what is most important, and to me that allows me to “have it all”. To another mom, maybe working full time and having an active social life is having it all. And even to another mom, maybe being a full time stay at home mom is having it all. It is definitely a very personal feeling on what you think it includes. The struggle is real for all moms, and whatever works for you and your family is best!
Describe being a mother in three words or phrases:
I honestly believe the 3 words/phrases change with each stage you are in!