How Are You?

I wanted to take a minute today to check in on all of you and share some honest feelings. I’ve received so many heartfelt, thoughtful comments, messages and notes in the last few weeks, really the last few months, and I have such immense gratitude for that. I really do not take that for granted. I think it’s safe to say this is not the year any of us expected. It’s certainly not how I anticipated spending my first year as a mom. Most days I’m ok with that. Now more than ever I am truly trying to focus on one day at a time.

Being a mom is easy. It’s also really hard. Does that make sense? I love my daughter. I love spending time with her and watching her grow and change, sometimes so quickly I feel like I blinked and I missed it. I feel lucky I get to witness so many things, but also a constant pull of other responsibilities. Feeling like everything else is suffering or taking a backseat, work especially. I feel like there is no such thing as “balance.”

I know how many of us are in the same boat. I have a work to-do list a mile long, there are just not enough hours in the day to do them. My inbox is a NIGHTMARE. The number of people I haven’t responded to is embarrassing. I used to be the person who always had to have her unread messages at zero, right now it’s hovering in the high nine hundreds. Was I naive to think that I’d be able to work the way I did before I had a baby? Probably. Eventually we will get some form of childcare but at this point we want Marin to see her grandparents so it doesn’t make sense to take that risk (not judging anyone else for their choices just explaining where we’re at).

There’s something else that’s been gnawing at me and I guess there’s no better time to discuss it than now. I don’t know why I feel compelled to share it. I guess because I feel like this is pervasive and goes beyond just “the nature of my job.” It’s mom shaming. I could probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve been personally attacked by people online since I started my blog six years ago, that is until I shared I was pregnant and had a baby. Maybe I was just lucky to fly under the radar. I have a decent blog readership and IG following but it’s not huge. This community feels intimate and connected, and I really love that. So maybe that’s why it stings a little more.

When I was pregnant I was a bit naive as to the roll motherhood would play as it relates to my job. I really did not know what to expect, but I love my daughter and she is a huge part of my life, how do I not share that? Of course I also want to protect her. It is something I struggle with daily. I am my brand. My brand is my business. That is my livelihood. It is our livelihood. Craig left behind 8 years in the construction industry to help me run this business together. I left behind 5 years in a good paying consulting job. We love what we do and we are grateful EVERY SINGLE DAY. I think becoming a mom has made me a better person. A more compassionate and sensitive person (I am not saying you need to become a mom to be those things, just something I’ve noticed about myself). And yet, the attacks against me and how I parent, what I share and how I share it have never cut so deep and felt so personal.

I know what you might be thinking “who cares?” or “it doesn’t matter what others who don’t know you think.” You’re absolutely right. It doesn’t. Trust me I know I can’t please everyone and I would never try. But I guess I keep coming back to the question of why? And especially, why do women do this to one another? The constant pressure and judgement around personal decisions about how we raise our children and the need to point out what we could be doing better or what we are doing wrong. I think the majority of us are really trying to do our best (and I mean that in general not just about those of us who have kids). I do have a point here, let me get back to the why.

I’ve spent (probably too much) time thinking about the why. I guess in some ways understanding why someone would say hurtful, judgemental or just outright hateful things helps me move on from it. I know there can’t always be a why, but here’s a few things I try to consider. Does this person have support? Maybe they are lacking the support they need at home. Is this person unhappy in their personal life? Maybe they have an unhealthy relationship. Is this person in an unfulfilling job? Maybe they are miserable at work. I’m not making excuses, I guess I’m just trying to have more compassion. And of course, there’s always the chance that they’re just an asshole.

We are all going through tough stuff right now. I know a lot of my friends in this industry would say the amount of online hate they’ve received since the beginning of Covid has increased quite a bit. I have a feeling we are all experiencing this in one way or another regardless of whether or not we work in this space. I wish I had something more profound to say about it but I guess my hope is that we try to find a little more compassion for one another (with the exception of Trump and his evil administration they can all burn in hell).

And really I just hope you are doing ok. And if you’re not, I’m sorry and I understand. It’s ok to not be ok. My general response when someone has asked how I’m doing is “I’m fine.” And generally, most days I am, but some days I’m not. So if you want to share how you’re doing, I genuinely want to know, how are you?

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41 Comments

  1. Lauren wrote:

    Thank you for sharing and it is so upsetting to be reminded of how people use social media to hate. If you can’t say something nice…never seems to extend to the comments and why not? I see it on other celebs that share their values and it is often trolls with no other followers or posts. I think these platforms won’t survive until they can fix this problem they have with hate and harassment.

    10.28.20 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      It’s interesting Lauren, I’ve had this conversation with a lot of friends. I think these platforms have to address these issues, certainly much better than they have up until now. Thanks for your comment.

      10.31.20 | Reply
  2. Isel wrote:

    Thank you for sharing this💕 I think this is a challenging time for many of us. My husband and I became my father’s caregivers right before Covid hit. He is now on hospice care here in our home. It has been a challenging few months but we take it one day at a time. We are all going through something. We all have good and bad days & that’s ok. Thank you again for your post☺️

    10.28.20 | Reply
    • Annie wrote:

      Isel, I’m so sorry you are going through this. Caregiving is SO HARD. I hope your hospice experience is a good one. I’ve been through it three times in the past decade and have been so pleased with how much comfort they were able to give us. I remember the first hospice nurse asking how I was and I reflexively said, “OK” and then she was the first person to ever tell me, “No, you’re not OK, and that is completely fine.” I think of that SO often, it was such a gift. So, I just want you to know a stranger on the internet is thinking of you, knowing you’re not OK, and knowing that that’s OK.

      10.28.20 | Reply
      • Jess wrote:

        Annie that brought tears to my eyes. Hospice nurses are truly incredible, as are all nurses. Having been through it this year with my grandmother I know my family felt immense gratitude for some of the nurses who helped with her care. My grandmother was also a nurse so she had an incredible connection with them. Thanks for sharing.

        10.31.20 | Reply
    • Gabrielle Morrow wrote:

      Isel, I’ve was in your shoes 2 and half years ago with both parents. They lived with us since 2012 and after they both went in to hospice in late 2017, our world became a very small world and keeping them happy, safe and fed (when they’d eat) was our main task. Having a great partner is so important, and I’m glad you and the hub make a great team. It’s a strange time as the child becomes the parent (cliché, but it’s the truth). Hang in there. Find something to really make you laugh when you need it – a tv show, podcast, something that becomes your ‘escape.’ It’s tough but know your father appreciates you so much. The experience I went through back in late 2017 and early 2018 (Mom passed in January and Dad, two months later in March) is something I wouldn’t have traded or changed. It’s a sad, and beautiful experience. I’ll be thinking of you during this time.

      10.29.20 | Reply
      • Jess wrote:

        So beautiful of you to share Gabrielle. How wonderful and I am sure also incredibly difficult to spend that precious time with your parents. Thank you so much.

        10.31.20 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      Isel I’m sorry you are going through this and I am sending a lot of love to you and your husband and father. I am thinking of all of you.

      10.31.20 | Reply
  3. Kelly wrote:

    I work in HR and spend all my days helping others solve problems and feeling supported by someone and the company. I never get the good calls, just urgent problems and requests to fix something. It’s tiring. And at the end of the day I don’t have it in me to try and fix some of my own personal problems or the energy to connect with my partner because I am all talked out. This year has been exhausting and to be honest after all the conversations with some of the parents I speak with weekly…I’m glad we don’t have children. My hat goes off to to parents and those who are essential workers. Oh and I live in DC so there’s that.

    10.28.20 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      I can’t even imagine Kelly. As someone who used to work in HR I honestly can not even fathom the stress and exhaustion you’re feeling. I’m sending you love and thinking of you. And hoping that after this week maybe DC will be a little brighter (for all of us).

      10.31.20 | Reply
  4. Katie Gill wrote:

    As always, thank you for sharing Jess. To the “how are you,” I find my answer changes by the hour some days…I have really benefited from Headspace, (thanks to you). I think the most challenging part is that I have always seemed to know what I need to have a relatively solid mindset, things like moving my body each day, eating healthy, sleep ect, but right now my normals tools, are simply not enough. It doesn’t mean I don’t do them, it just means I might need more some days or just surrendering to the harder moments. I am so sorry that you are being mom shamed, I have a close friend that has been a mom for a few months, and has already felt these same things! I truly don’t understand it. Aren’t we all suppose to be raising the next generation together?! Don’t we have enough shit going on in the world??? It sounds like you are taking the high road, good on you. As someone who has been a long time follower (literally every time I make a new purchase my fiance asks me if it came from Jess Kirby…and the answer is almost always yes ha!) I have said it before, but I will say it again, you inspired me to adopt pets, start a compost, support brands that give a shit about the environment, the customer and the employee, you even inspired me to take my own leap and start my own business! I don’t think you need to hear it, but in case you do, your work is changing people…for the better. Thank you and keep going.

    10.28.20 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      You’re so sweet Katie. I appreciate you. Thank you so much.

      10.31.20 | Reply
  5. Hilary wrote:

    Hi Jess:

    I feel for you. So many people are unhappy in their own lives so they feel the need to negatively comment on yours. I’m sure you know this, but it’s all projection. Despite the fact you know who you are, it can be entirely defeating when someone who doesn’t know you is so awful. On the other hand, it’s nice when folks can affirm you. I am affirming you. I love ALL your content (especially your political posts), your style is awesome (I love the reels you make-gives me tons of fashion inspiration), you’re a great mom (Marin always looks so chill and happy), and you are clearly doing a fantastic job. Thank you for providing me with a slice of sunshine and realism during this pandemic! ❣️

    10.28.20 | Reply
    • Kristina wrote:

      Amen!

      10.30.20 | Reply
      • Jess wrote:

        Hilary and Kristina thank you so much. I appreciate you more than you know.

        10.31.20 | Reply
  6. Maura wrote:

    Our kids are 15 & 13 and I still struggle to find a balance. I think it’s part of being a parent that never really goes away. We are all exposed to ‘mom shaming’ no matter our choices unfortunately but the volume of opinions you’re hearing must be overwhelming. Look to the ones who support you emotionally and make you see the positive side of things. Laugh and confide in them. They will help you stay steady and confident. As for the next generation, I’m teaching both my daughter and son to be respectful of other people’s choices and to understand we are all doing the best we can. Lead by example. Cheers!

    10.28.20 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      Great advice Maura. And I have never been so thankful for my good friends and family!

      10.31.20 | Reply
  7. Ashley wrote:

    Thank you for sharing this Jess. It is so helpful to hear a bit more of your reality and I can totally relate.

    I started a second job lately on top of my current job and I feel like I am a super organized person, but honestly that’s just not enough. I’ve found my inbox filling up or that I’ve forgotten something and then I think to myself “that’s so not me”. Then I start shaming my work ethic before I realize I’m human, have a lot on my plate, and that sometimes there’s just not enough time in the day.

    Balance is so hard and everyday isn’t going to be ok and that is ok. No matter if it’s work, family, or just living in the year that is 2020!

    Thanks as always for all your honesty, truly helps knowing I’m not the only one feeling this way.

    10.28.20 | Reply
  8. Haylee wrote:

    First off, parent shaming is exhausting. I like to think how things like this got rolling (mostly because my brain refuses to believe that women have always had this tendency to tear each other down to this degree…why? What? It’s ridiculous), and sometimes I wonder if the day parenthood stopped being a village and became more often than not just one person, even in a partnership, being primarily responsible for a child or more is when it got worse. And now with everyone largely isolated from each other except for through the internet—ugh. The worst part about it for me is that I carry other’s comments with me and remember them later, or even anticipate them. I took my 4-month-old to the grocery store the other day because I needed something and didn’t have the option of leaving him home, and anytime someone looked at him for a long time my brain freaked out. Is it because he’s not wearing booties and it’s cold? Is it because I’m taking him out at all during COVID? Is it because he stuck my finger in his mouth before I yanked it out and now he may get sick? I wish it were something I were better at responding to when it’s actually happening, and better at leaving alone and not anticipating or inventing more comments in my mind. It’s exhausting! And unnecessary.

    Second, I am sure when you posted this you weren’t anticipating compliments, and as I scrolled down to the comments I saw your post on accepting compliments, so I hope you’re doing that! I echo what these women have said. You’ve had such a positive influence on my life and even my baby’s. I should make a list: headspace, exploring eating vegan, making my home more sustainable, supporting the right businesses, Jessica Yellin (what would I do without her), Dyper subscription, Agolde Dee shorts in Ricochet 😆…the list is EXTENSIVE. My husband knows you and Cup of Jo by name haha. So thank you 🙂

    10.28.20 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      Thank you so much Haylee I really appreciate you. And I agree what would we do without Jessica Yellin?! Haha.

      10.31.20 | Reply
  9. Haylee wrote:

    I had to come back and just add that Marin’s little arm peeking out in this post’s picture slays me 😭💕

    10.28.20 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      Aww haha thank you! xx

      10.31.20 | Reply
  10. Melinda wrote:

    Hi Jess-i love all your stuff! You and Craig have created a wonderful life together. You’re so very lucky—and I know you know that.

    Just want to comment on your work life balance stuff. I was a working mom too but in a large corporate environment (Verizon) in a high pressure management position. (I’m retired now.). My emails were always like yours! Ugh!! One day I had a meeting with a woman who ran one of our large call centers. She too was a working mom but in a much higher position than me. She was highly thought of in the executive ranks. She said something to me that I never forgot. She said even though she gave 100+ every day, she it was ok if she got 90% of her stuff done daily. I was so surprised. I thought she’d drive herself to do 110% every day. It made me realize we can do a great job and not get everything done on our to do list.

    Hope that helps you somehow!!! And you don’t need to reply😊

    10.28.20 | Reply
  11. Marika wrote:

    I’m not okay. Thank you for asking—and for sharing your feelings so honestly. It upsets me that there is so much cruelty and judgement online (and offline). I get angry when I see someone bear the brunt of that. I especially get angry when I see women tearing down other women. I know it’s a reflection of the person who says those things and not the person receiving them. But it’s still hard. Social media and other online forums are full of so much possibility; so much potential for good—but they also spectacularly suck in ways. In a landscape that can be overwhelmingly fake, I’ve always appreciated your genuineness.

    10.28.20 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      I’m so sorry Marika. I am thinking of you and sending love.

      10.31.20 | Reply
  12. Jane wrote:

    I think it’s all catching up to me, especially as winter and Christmas are approaching and the pandemic is getting worse. I work from home but my husband has to go into a site (construction), my almost 2 year old daughter is in nursery so I’m grateful I have childcare but recently my manager could tell I wasn’t myself, asked how I was and it all came out. It’s so isolating being home all day on your own. I’m also an American in London and 6 months pregnant, and it’s really weighing on me that I don’t know whether my mom will come for the birth or when my family will see my daughter again, she’s changing so quickly. I’m sorry on top of this terrible time you’re getting criticized. I have noticed recently a lot of people have been saying how stressed and anxious they are so I think we’re all feeling it. Thanks for all of your efforts to get Biden elected, watching from afar I so hope he wins!!! (Also nationalized healthcare is amazing)

    10.28.20 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      Ugh I’m so sorry Jane. I am sending you lots of love.

      10.31.20 | Reply
  13. Lia wrote:

    Thanks for sharing this Jess. Sending you so much love. Being a mom is so hard, and we are all truly trying our best. For what it’s worth, there is no better mom to Marin in the world than you, so just remember that. You know your baby best.
    Whenever I think of mom shaming, I try to flip the script on someone. I sometimes think people feel the need to do it in order to validate their own insecurities of how THEY raised their kid. If they put YOUR parenting down, then THEY are right in their mind. Does that make sense? It’s hard to look at it that way and it’s definitely hurtful. But I try to remember – it’s not about me. It’s about them and their insecurities.

    Sending you love.

    10.28.20 | Reply
  14. Kelsey wrote:

    Thanks for checking in. I hate this year, it sucks, and I can’t wait for it to be over is honestly where I’m at. My husband got laid off 6 months ago and hasn’t been able to find a job again due to the job market sucking. We’ve been trying to conceive and haven’t been successful. I’m a teacher. It just sucks. I’m trying to notice and appreciate the good things in my life, some days I do a better job than others.

    I’m sorry you’ve been receiving so much hate. This year is hard and people on the internet are so much ruder than most of them would ever be willing to be in real life. Sending love!

    10.28.20 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      I’m so sorry to hear this Kelsey. Can’t imagine how hard that must be right now. I am sending you love and I hope you know how much I appreciate you. Thanks for being here and I hope things get better for you soon.

      11.7.20 | Reply
  15. Jen wrote:

    You are inspiring as so many others here have said. Thank you for being real and sharing .

    I read a great quote the other day from a mindfulness “Tweeter”, I will share here because it resonates “Worrying about what others think is a waste of time. Other people’s opinion of me is all about them and what they see in me, filtered through their own lenses; it has zero to do with me.” Sara Fabian

    I agree with another poster here, mom bashing, as much as it might sting, reflects more about the person doing the bashing than it does about the victim. Why do people have to get happy by making others unhappy? 🤷🏻‍♀️

    Recently, as for so many others, my life has been stressful to say the least, my 5 yo daughter had a suspected melanoma removed from her head this week (we await the results), my husband who is away working in Central America for 6m had covid (just mildly in the end thankfully) and we are trying to move house to be nearer family. Oh, and I decided to start my own business to boot. (Because there wasn’t enough stress already. Why do we do it to ourselves? 🥴) Through it all it has been family and close friends that have kept me sane (at a social distance). I know it is sometimes easier said than done but I just don’t make space for the naysayers anymore.

    10.29.20 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      Ugh Jen I am so sorry that sounds so stressful especially with waiting results for your little one, I hope everything is ok, and your husband being away. Best of luck with your business and I am sending you lots of love and peace right now.

      10.31.20 | Reply
  16. Jennifer wrote:

    This post caught me by surprise. Not by the content (which is excellent, but terrible that you are getting so much hate – that stinks – mothers should stick together, not knock each other down); but rather by my reaction. I realized that I’m not really okay. I’m really, really sad as temperatures have been dropping here in the upper mid-west, along with the skyrocketing COVID cases in my area. I have a rare airway disease and already felt isolated last spring. Summer was a little liberating, being able to be outside with friends and extended family. Now I feel all that has been stolen again. My HS age daughter has been a trooper, but I can tell its taking a toll on her too. Its her senior year – she didn’t have a prom last spring, no homecoming or fall sport season (she’s an athlete) and never got to do her official college visit before committing. She will literally join a college team next fall having never met her coach, other than on zoom. My college age son is terrified to come home and stay over for Thanksgiving (and he’s only 10 miles away) and since he lives in a big house with 7 other roommates its harder for him to “isolate.” He is fortunate that his roommates are all taking this seriously, getting tested weekly (thank you UW-Madison) and have one another for company. But several have significant others and there have been a few close calls – but no infections, so far. My spouse’s company has been amazing – state of the art PPE for onsite employees, providing extra income to offset daycare that some employees are utilizing for their school age children (to provide small group settings for remote learning with tutors), provide anything you need for remote work, sending generous gift cards in lieu of the holiday parties and picnic’s we look forward to and in general going above and beyond. Despite all that, they are still having employees with exposures, contracting COVID and many are symptomatic. We have so many friends, family and neighbors that are now having exposures – and these are ALL people that are wearing masks and doing their best to stay safe. Its like a literal fire of COVID all around us here in WI. Despite all this we, as a family, are so lucky, in so many ways, which just adds guilt to my sadness. I appreciate all you have been saying and doing on the political front – I have focused my follows on influencers/bloggers that are willing to be themselves and stand up for what they believe. I’m not going to judge too harshly others that don’t, since I don’t know their situations or burdens; but I’m concentrating my attention to those that are lifting me up by speaking the language I need to hear right now. My spouse and I have been doing things personally, and financially to support candidates at a national and local level, but I hope everything we have all done is enough – and that Trump and his justice dept and supreme court goons don’t overturn any positive outcomes (ie. Biden winning). Whew – that’s a lot to put in a blog response…I feel like responding was sort of a pandora’s box of purging. Please do not feel like this response needs to be published on the blog – but thank you for asking your readers how we are doing. Its nice to know that I’m not alone in feeling this way. It might be time for me to use one of those codes for Headspace!

    10.29.20 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      I’m so sorry Jennifer. I understand that feeling of guilt and then that adding to sadness. I’ve been struggling with that and one thing that has helped me is just practicing gratitude every day and doing a short meditation, sometimes like 3 minutes. Headspace has helped honestly. And thanks for all you’re doing to get Trump OUT. I think for me personally I will feel a huge weight lifted when I know he’s a goner. Sending love to you and your family.

      10.31.20 | Reply
  17. Gabrielle Morrow wrote:

    Jess,
    I’ve loved you since my eyes set upon your blog almost 3 years ago. Up, downs, pregnancy, moves, I’ve been there with you in spirit. You’re a force to be reckoned with and I appreciate your openness, candor, truthfulness and on-point no bs radar 😉
    No, I don’t have kids, but following you and other bloggers that do, I have a better understanding of what it means to be a working mom in the 21st century. I tip my cap to each and every one of you. You’re all amazing and you blow me away. Part of the reason I didn’t have kids, besides deciding that age 40 was going to be my cut off, was knowing my psyche and that I would not have had wherewithal to be a full-time worker and full-time employee. Plus, I knew 12 years ago that as the oldest, my husband and I would be looking after/taking care of my parents. Which we did starting in 2012. They moved in and we were a full hour until they both passed away in 2018. I wouldn’t have changed that experience for anything in the world. So again, my not having children, wasn’t a ‘loss’ for me. I’m absolutely fine and happy with my decision. My husband and I enjoy being an aunt and uncle, and our 3 four-legged kids keep us on our toes.
    Keep doing you, know your team is behind you.
    Best to you, Craig, Miss Marin, Nora, Fuji and Hunter (hey! I need a Hunter update).
    g

    10.29.20 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      Gabrielle you are such a good human, truly, I appreciate you so much and what you bring to this community. Your compassion, empathy and overall good vibes. What an incredible and I am sure very difficult experience to have with your parents. Such a beautiful story and I appreciate you sharing it. Much love to you and your fam. Hunter update soon I promise lol. He’s living his best Vermont life right now.

      11.7.20 | Reply
  18. Cindy wrote:

    Jess,

    It is beyond reproach that people feel so free to criticize, shame or project negativity towards anyone online (or anywhere for that matter). I think a therapist would say it’s a projection about themselves, but of course it still hurts. You are human.

    I am a lot older than you (turned 60 this year – which is crazy), but really enjoy following you on Instagram and your blog. You are mature beyond your years, thoughtful, kind and I’m certain are an incredible mother.

    Keep doing what you’re doing and ignore all those who, if face to face, wouldn’t have the guts to say what they do behind a screen.

    xx,
    cindy

    10.29.20 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      Hi Cindy,

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful and kind words, it really means a lot. Appreciate you and thanks for being here. And happy 60th!

      11.7.20 | Reply
  19. Jessica wrote:

    I’m so ready for this election to be over so this country can hopefully heal. The hatred that’s being provoked is so exhausting and terrifying. Thanks for sharing a look into what it’s like right now. Fingers crossed life gets a little easier soon for everyone.

    xo Jessica
    an indigo day

    10.29.20 | Reply
  20. Tess wrote:

    I’m so sorry to heart that you’re dealing with mom shaming. That must be awful—thanks for being so open about it. I once heard someone say “no one loves my child more than my husband and I do, so no one is more qualified to parent them than we are.” It resonated with me, so I thought I’d share! You seem like a wonderful mom. 🤍

    11.1.20 | Reply
  21. Mary wrote:

    I have a rule that when an influencer I love enters a new season that might make me irritated or uncomfortable for my own personal reasons, I unfollow them temporarily. I take a break while they are doing wedding planning or new mom years or whatever I’m not into and check out new bloggers. I will always gravitate back towards the influencers whose taste I love. Let’s all be nicer to ourselves and each other.

    11.1.20 | Reply