Sophie Ward Koren/Ojai CA
Author/ Mother/ Maker
Coming soon: www.milkandseed.com
Name and ages of your children?
Julius Max, 3.
What is your name selecting approach?
When thinking about names we looked for something we love to say over and over again. Being wordy writerly people, the sound of a name is important! We also wanted a name that was unique but still classic, strong but soft. Oh, and the short version of the name had to be something we loved too. Jules is just perfect.
What is your definition of a crushable Mama?
A mama who lives her dreams today, for herself and her family. Mamas who are living and sharing about their sustainable homesteading life. Those mamas who never lose a sense of humor, delight, awe, positivity, reality and sweetness on their journey. Closer to home, it's a mama whose company I deeply cherish, someone who makes me laugh, with whom I can let down my guard and share my vulnerabilities and dreams with, someone whose presence I completely admire – I can think of certain women in my life who I'd love to watch all day long from their kitchen counter. Authenticity is what I love best.
What is the most rewarding thing about motherhood?
The companionship. That pure love and devotion that little children experience and express so freely. We are so intimately connected from the first moment of conception. It is an incredible relationship that can never be found anywhere else.
What is the most challenging aspect of motherhood?
The constant physical and emotional work that motherhood demands! Wow, I never realized how hard I would be working, and how easy it is to let self-care slip down the hill of laundry and dishes.
Where has motherhood pushed you to grow the most?
It has pushed me to become more resilient, and to let go more and more. The daily load of attending to the social, emotional, physical, mental, spiritual development of a rapidly growing human has bombarded my sensitive (though fiery) soul and caused me to mature in a way that I never had the opportunity to do before. I was never prepared for the intensity of motherhood! We see so many images and stories of the positive sides of parenting, which are plentiful – the cute moments, the amazing developments and learning, the adorable things they say, the cuddles and kisses and adventures together. I naively thought it was going to be like that all the time. But I'd say those moments are the blessed respites in between some of the most challenging and certainly the most rewarding work I will ever do. I feel a huge responsibility towards my son, and that pushes me to be a better person every day. I am very thankful for that. At the same time, it also pushes me to let go more and not take it all too seriously! There is no such thing as a perfect mum (thank goodness for Bad Moms!) – I know that I am the best mum for my son, and that love wins at the end of the day.
What are your top 3 best tips for a new mama?
3. Create a community of loving care around you and your new family. Those first three years of parenthood can truly bloom with the nurturing support of family and friends.
What are your family rituals?
We don't have many fixed rituals as we keep things pretty fluid at home, but we often do a Friday night movie & homemade pizza night, and a weekend beach day with our dog. We always eat breakfast (banana & ghee porridge), lunch (eggs, avocado and toast or pasta) and dinner together, often on the deck overlooking Ojai. I do my yoga and spiritual rituals every morning – Jules and Isaac sometimes join in stretching or doing breathing exercises with me. We also love to be in the garden together at dusk.
What is your parenting philosophy/approach?
This is such a many layered question! We have many family values that we like to riff on (we started making a list under the stars the other night) including communicating feelings in the moment, self expression, enjoying your body exactly as it is, the power of cousins, eating organic, local, sustainably grown food cooked with love and intention. Laughing till you cry. Listening. Fermented matter over dark mind. Haha. Our compass is always pointing in the direction of 'what is best for our family as a living entity in this moment?' Sometimes that means someone needs extra TLC, or a break, or more attention or play time. The individual is always part of the holism of the family though, so whatever we do for ourselves or each other, we are doing for the culture of our little tribe. This awareness ripples out of course to the larger community and planet. It is a kind of nesting doll approach.
What has been your biggest surprise about motherhood?
The sheer work and effort of it all. As I said before, I've never worked on my feet for so long ever in my life. Having been a writer in New York, I was so much in my mind, weaving great magical webs to metaphysically dance upon. Life is very different now! Even though we chose to be our child's primary care givers for the first three years of his life (he starts Montessori preschool soon) it has been a shock to me how much stay at home mothers have to do, not to mention how much our culture expects them to do.
What is your approach to food and raising a child?
Organic all the way! We also grow some of our own food and pick up a local CSA box every week from a wonderful farm to table restaurant here called Farmer & The Cook. Jules interacts with the farmer and the cooks and gets to really understand where food comes from and what it takes to grow it well. I also firmly believe that children should be allowed to be children, so we let Jules have ice cream at the pizza place, or we make brownies at home and he helps me measure and mix. Yesterday we made our own marshmallows too! (Arguably his favorite food... camp fire or not)
What is your approach to disciplining your child?
We have and are reading a lot of helpful books, starting with No Bad Kids by Janet Lansbury, The Parent Book: Raising Emotionally Mature Kids (a hand me down from my mum from the 1970s!), and currently How To Talk So Little Kids will Listen. I have had a lot of success with the approach of acknowledging feelings and offering creative choices when we need something to happen. E.g. Do you want to eat your dinner under the table or on a chair? Do you want to have a bath with bubbles or cups? We are still learning how to navigate the threenager stage of a boys development. We do a lot of talking and explaining why it's not ok to hit/bite/kick his family as well as working on some healthy channeling of his incredible (testosterone!) energy!
4 tips to finding balance in motherhood?
Oh gosh, I am still learning how to balance. And I'm not sure it is possible to be balanced all the time – hence the "finding" part. I mourned the loss of my creative writing freedom once I became a mother, but after much gnashing of teeth attempting to 'rebalance' I allowed myself to surrender into the now and let that chapter of my life go. My writing has changed a lot, as my focus in life has changed a lot, and I am changing faster than I can keep up with, so my writing is reflecting that. Communicating feelings is so important in any relationship, both with a partner or a child. If I need to sit down after being on my feet all day but Jules still wants to play or cook or explore, I let Jules know that I need to stop. It is important for me as a woman to set my boundaries and share them firmly and lovingly with others. If I don't take care of myself I become a very monstrous version of myself who I'd prefer to avoid, haha. So to put it into 4 tips... 1. Express your needs. 2. Let go of how you think it should be. 3. Get what you need. 4. Patience. (Breathe!)
Your top 4 lessons you wish to instill in your child?
In no particular order:
-Respect of self, others, and our planet.
• Kindness and compassion (one of our family values is "always talk to strangers")
• Love and honor yourself, your feelings, your creative offerings, the very ground of your being, no matter what any one else does or says. You are a child of the universe and you deserve to be here as much as anyone else.
• Never give up on your dreams
What are you letting go of? (eg.impatience/stress etc)
What are you calling in? (eg.acceptance/playfulness etc)
Sweet, sweet surrender.