Here's to mothers.
They inspire us and help lead future generations.
At withinUs, we are fortunate to know many strong women and mothers. Over the years we have been connected with ambitious female entrepreneurs, passionate influencers, and loyal customers. All these women inspire us, motivate us, and keep us pushing forward to be our best.
We've asked seven of our amazing Ambassadors and supporters about what inspires them, how motherhood has changed their views on balance, and how they are raising their children to conquer the world!
withinUs: ‘The future is female.' How do you work to contribute to building a strong and positive future for your daughter, and other females?
TRACY: My mom is one of the strongest women I know. Her philosophy is kindness always…but respect first. While she’d give you the shirt off her back she’s also four feet of pure intimidation. No one pushes her around. Not even on a crowded subway car.
As she raised me I watched my mom use the little money she had to support nieces and nephews abroad complete their studies. My sister and I never wanted for anything due to her keen work ethic and acute savings techniques. Her and my father didn’t make a lot, but man could they stretch a dollar. Even now with crippling arthritis she cooks meals for family members and has my dad deliver them once a week. She’s fearless and her heart takes up 90% of her body. She taught me everything about being independent AND vulnerable AND kind.
Now I have my own little girl copying everything I do and say. Telling me she wants to be me when she grows up. We left church after Easter mass and while holding hands I complained that my feet hurt. She replied, “Mine do too mommy.” And I said, “Oh no we have to get you different shoes!” And she said, “No my feet don’t really hurt. I just want to be like you.” Heart. Melt.
It‘s a huge responsibility, but every day we talk about everything: gossip, girlfriends, fights on the playground, race, world affairs, how to make babies…the whole nine. I feel confident that if I can continue to show her all my sides (the fake hair extension side, the vulnerable side, the strong side, the fit side, the happy side, the serious side, the boss babe side) she will understand that being a woman is embracing all these things.
I have nothing but hope for the future of my daughter. She’s going to occupy some serious space.
Tracy is a Canadian television journalist who hosts Cityline, a long-running Canadian television show. She is the mother of two, and an active volunteer in the Toronto community to raise awareness and support for young girls and women.
withinUs: What is one of the most important lessons your mother taught you?
SHAYNA: My mother is one of the most intelligent people I know, for many reasons. She is an entrepreneur, a mother of 3, and no matter what life has thrown her way, she has always managed to come out the other side wiser and stronger.
One of the most important things she has taught me is that you always create the narrative of the story you put in your head. If your thoughts stay negative, it is because you are choosing to make them that way.
Another important lesson my mother has taught me is that your character is defined when life is hard, not during the happy times. She always reminds me to take a step back and look at the greater picture of what I can learn when I am going through a hard time in life, no matter how difficult it may seem.
Lastly, my mom has always taught me that your work should be doing what you love, not what others think you should be doing. Keep exploring until your job makes you happy and doesn’t even feel like work to you. This lesson from my mother led me to discover my love for food and my dream job: helping others live a healthy lifestyle. :)
Chef, fitness enthusiast, model, and blogger, Shayna has dedicated her life to improving the emotional wellness and health of others through food, beauty & health tips through her website Shayna's Kitchen.
withinUs: How do you strive for balance in your life with work, being a mom and time for yourself? Is this an unreal expectation for moms?
What steps do you do to try and achieve a balance?
CHERYL: There is no such thing as balance. I try really hard to be all things to all people and often forget myself!
I think some days the kids need me more, other days work needs me more.
While my family always comes first, I make sure I have everything organized as best I can so I can be 100 percent where I am.
Then there are those days when it all falls apart and I either laugh or cry.
No balance is not possible. I don’t think it is realistic. At least it is not for me right now.
Some steps that help me are writing everything down in my daytimes and my calendar in my phone. Set alarms as reminders for everything. Check these every morning before I make lunches.
Then I also each day write out a to-do list so I can achieve my goals for the day.
withinUs: What is one thing no one tells you about motherhood that you have experienced since becoming a new mom?
ALEX: Mila Grave Harvey was born March 6th, 2018.
Motherhood so far has been one of the biggest learning experiences of my life. I've learned more patience than I can imagine, how important it is to have self-love, and that it's ok to ask for help.
One thing I didn't realize is how much babies eat! Mila was a preemie and came home very eager to grow! I’m used to being busy, so for me sitting and feeding all day was a struggle at first. I had to learn to surrender and relax. It was a lesson I feel that I needed to learn, to focus on one thing and be ok with slowing down.
withinUs: How do your children inspire you?
GENIEVE: There is absolutely nothing on this planet that inspires me more than my girls, Rhys and Shyloh. Childhood is so magical, it is whimsical and innocent, creative and connected, and most of all, it is pure love. Being around my girls removes layers of hardening in my soul that has happened from “life.”
I am inspired by their courage to try new things, to ask the right questions, to work
through their budding social relationships.
They keep me in check and ask for me to be present. I have learned so much about concentration and distraction with my girls, and I’m learning every day how to put away my phone and connect with the present moment.
withinUs: The Future is Female - how do you contribute to building a strong future/foundation for your daughters?
GENIEVE: This International Women’s Day, I looked to our own government’s website to see what the stats are for women in Canada. Stats Canada reports that:
- Women are representing only 20% of the advanced leadership roles on boards and companies in Canada.
- Women are underrepresented in politics, with only 28% women in parliament.
- Women earn, on average, 30% less than men for the same work
- Women are still the main care provider for children.
So even though I have been feeling in my heart that things are pretty equal in Canada, they are far from it. There is so much work to be done, and it’s going to be my daughters’ generation that will make the greatest impact.
The best way that I can foster this change for my daughters’ future, is to inspire in them the fire to create this change. My husband Beau and I are doing everything we can to provide them with an excelled education and opportunities for artistic and athletic excellence. This is the foundation, but it’s not enough. What they need to know is that even with this education and experience, they will have to have the tenacity and fire to create change and equality for themselves and other women.
Where I can come in to help is to inspire them to love other women, to collaborate with them instead of competing with them. To know that there is enough abundance out there for all of us, and to hold their fellow women up. Motherhood is often misrepresented in the media, which can lead to false and
withinUs: What REAL LIFE reflections would you impart to new mothers?
GENIEVE: This is a very important question. When I prepared to have my first baby, Rhys, the only thing I was worried about at that time was having the right baby carriage, all the matching clothes, the latest gadgets and making sure I stayed in shape. Life had a big lesson to teach me, and I had no idea it was coming. I should have felt it, in the anxiety I was experiencing in my last trimester, I thought it was work related, but it was the beginning of what would become paralyzing post-partum anxiety and depression. I feel that there is a massive misrepresentation of motherhood in the media, from birth onwards. I was receiving pink blankets, pink flowers, pink cards, and I felt completely lost, I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I didn’t even know how to articulate to the people I loved how I was feeling. It wasn’t until I couldn’t function that I broke down and reached
out, and asked for help. I felt so ashamed that I was a health professional, and I couldn’t “handle it.” There are way more mothers who experience mood disorders post-partum than is represented in media. And this leads to us speaking about it less. I felt isolated, and I live in one of the most progressive communities in the world.
And it’s not just post-partum depression that is misrepresented, but also the expectation that our bodies will bounce back immediately, that our friendships will stay the same, that our marriages will be perfect.
In reality, motherhood is as messy as it gets. But it’s all worth it. There is no doubt. I would do it all over again and again to have my two daughters in my life. They are the most important humans on earth to me.
Genieve is a Chiropractic doctor. Through her passion and integration of Chiropractic, anti-aging research, and creating holistic plans for patients - she has successfully built loyal and trustworthy relationships within the community.
withinUs: What are some things you wish you knew about motherhood before becoming a mother?
JENNIFER: I recently connected with an expecting mom. A stranger who was actually sitting next to me by the pool in Las Vegas. After sharing her exciting news with me and passing along congratulations, a flood of emotion came over me, as I thought back to my first few days as a new mother over 3 and a half years ago. No one can totally prepare you for what Motherhood is, but I felt compelled to share my thoughts in hopes that it would make her transition smoother than mine.
The 1st thing I shared was that on Day 3 after giving birth to her baby and after coming down from the adrenaline rush of birthing this precious new life, that is when the tears start. Get ready to cry, and cry a lot. And it doesn’t mean you have Postpartum Depression, or that you are not emotionally stable, or that anything is wrong. Your body is trying to regulate your hormones and you’re running on no sleep.
I vividly remember standing at the bathroom sink, leaning over the counter with my panties around my ankles just sobbing, and my husband walked in and asked what was wrong. There was no answer. I was sore, I was tired, I was….just crying.
And if it wasn’t for a friend who had text me that morning asking if the “crying had started”, I would have thought there was something seriously wrong with me. Since that day and after talking to countless numbers of women, friends, and strangers, I have come to realize this is absolutely normal.
The second thing I told her is that breastfeeding is probably one of the hardest things about having a baby. For some reason, we seem to have this idea that because breastfeeding is natural, that we will naturally excel at it. Not the case. I haven’t talked to a single mother I have met who didn’t have some sort of difficulty breastfeeding. Whether it was too much milk, not enough, mastitis, poor latch, thrush, trouble pumping….you name it. Breast is best is a phrase I would like to never hear again. What is best is feeding your baby whatever they need to thrive and for you to be happy and mentally stable. If that means exclusively formula, pumped milk in a bottle, or a combination of all, be ok with that. The mental and emotional guilt that we put upon ourselves as mothers can cause serious damage and I know for a fact that the stress of breastfeeding can send moms into PPD. Remove the idea from your mind that breastfeeding is best and do whatever it is you need to do to happily feed your baby.
The third is, find at least one other mother who you can connect with. Someone you can reach out to, relate to. Someone who truly understands what you, your body, your mind, your heart and soul are all going through as a mother. I have been extremely lucky to have had such a strong support system while I had been pregnant and given birth to my children. It has been such a blessing in my journey.
One of my fondest memories after my last birth, was late night texts with a friend who had also given birth about one month before me. To be sitting in the dark alone at 3 am feeding your baby and see a text pop up from a friend who was doing the exact same thing, helped to make me feel less isolated in that moment. It reminded me that there are so many other moms out there sitting in the dark, feeling so tired, doing the exact same thing. We are never alone in this journey.
We are all in this together. Experiencing the same things and sharing the same struggles. It is talking about those struggles with one another, that builds us up and makes us stronger, better Mothers.
Jennifer is a mother of two and Owner / Designer of VonBon Apparel.
withinUs: What is one of your favourite childhood stories about Kaitlyn?
LESLIE: Music was, and still continues to be, a huge part of the lives of our family. Some of our happiest memories as a family are summers spent at the cabin on Shuswap Lake.
Haley and Kaitlyn loved to sing and dance their hearts out, no matter where we were, however, they were even more boisterous with wild abandon when at the lake.
Kaitlyn especially loved to do this favourite activity, in her birthday suit. One day, it was a little chilly, and we wanted her to put on some warm clothes. We had to chase her around and around, and up and down the spiral staircase, to catch her, and “hold her down" to dress her.
Stubborn is her middle name, but, after much todo, we were finally successful, and ready to venture out for a family walk.
Kaitlyn proceeded to march down the path ahead of us, where she stopped dead in her tracks and pulled her pants down!! She just stood there, with her little white butt and tanned legs, exposed for all of nature (and us) to see. She was not laughing, and took it quite seriously as if to say, “Nah uh, you can put clothes on the girl, but you can’t keep the girl from being who she is meant to be”.
Kaitlyn has always had a free spirit side to her multi-faceted personality. She is like a beautiful, flamboyant gypsy, who refuses to be tamed and conform to the world’s “norm”, even if she doesn’t fit into other people’s expectations. That is one of the things, among many, I admire about our Katie. She is comfortable in her own skin, flaws and all, and inspires me every day to be true to my heart, and who I am.
Thank you to all the strong women, and wonderful mothers out there.
Here's to you.