Jen Holmes, Pam Watts, and Renee JV McGrath

Recorded August 17, 2005 Archived August 17, 2005 00:00 minutes
Audio not available


young mother interviews two other young mothers about becoming and being mothers

Subject Log / Time Code

- 11:00 - questioning own mortality more since birth
- becoming more tolerant of people since baby born - everyone has a mother
- hope that children are better than they are


  • Jen Holmes
  • Pam Watts
  • Renee JV McGrath

Recording Location

MobileBooth West


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00:07 Okay, my name is Renee McGrath. I'm 36 years old today is August 17th 2005 and we are sitting in a metal Contraption in the parking lot of the Boone and Crockett Club in Missoula Montana. I'm here with my two good friends and partners in motherhood.

00:31 Please introduce yourself.

00:35 My name is Jennifer Holmes. How old am I I guess I'm 31 now.

00:42 August 17th 2005

00:48 In the same contraption that Renee is in.

00:56 With R&A and Pam my friends.

00:59 My name is Pam Watts. I am almost 29 and they said the date and location.

01:08 We're all here in the soul place on the same day and time.

01:13 Okay, so we're going to talk about our experiences. We eat the three of us have been hanging around since our babies were newborns and have been a Lifeline to one another at least you've been a Lifeline to me. So I was interested in hearing about your experiences of motherhood how it's affected you as a person and how it's affected your relationships with other people. So I thought we'd start out by asking you when you first found out that you would be a parent and how you felt about that.

01:47 I first found out that I was going to be a parent in the spring of 2003 and I just remember sitting on my back steps looking out at the sapphire mountains in thinking.

02:04 Oh my God.

02:07 What am I going to do? I had no idea how my life would change how I would cope with having to be a constant caretaker. Are you afraid?

02:19 Yeah, I was.

02:23 Cuz I just didn't know how I would juggle.

02:27 All the aspects of my life

02:30 But you done.

02:32 I know that I guess it was it was May of that same year.

02:40 C. I I didn't think it through quite so much as Pam. Did I just thought oh boy how exciting and didn't you know motherhood didn't even hit I don't take until probably a month after Bell was born it sounds crazy, but I just kept working working working and doing what I do and I didn't really slow down to think about it until my mom was there for the first month and then after she left then it really hit home yet. Yeah that that kid was was mine and I was going to take care of it. So, you know, so

03:28 It you know, it took a while longer for me to realize to the massiveness of it.

03:38 So Pam, he said that when you were you couldn't imagine how how being a mother or having a child was going to change your life. Well, can you now? Can you tell us how that come about how has it changed you or has it? I think it has taken me like over a year to finally feel comfortable with motherhood.

04:01 Because it's just you never get a break. It's just constant. I mean you don't get like John said the other day like you don't get to go home at night because he's always with me.

04:19 It's become an awesome experience though.

04:23 But it took some adjusting to definitely

04:27 What was your experience and how it how is motherhood change your life?

04:32 It's Mimi slow down. I guess it's probably the biggest thing is slow down and think about other things. Yeah. Yeah. I used to work 80 hours a week and just

04:47 Just work like mad woman. So yeah, I you know I chill out for a little bit not just always constantly be thinking of the next thing it needs to be done. I've had to slow down and kind of work at her Pace sometimes or walk at her Pace or or you know, and the early days sit down. And nurse when nursing was the last thing I wanted to do. I wanted to go, you know do some more work and so

05:20 Yeah, I think that's probably been the biggest change is learning that there's more than one pace out there to go out.

05:31 How has mother but motherhood been different than you expected?

05:36 What did you think it would be like if you thought about it before you had a baby and how did it turn out to not be that way? I don't think I had any set expectations. I had no idea. I didn't even try to imagine what it would be. Like, I just had no concept. I thought I'd get a little bit more sleep though.

06:05 How are you Jen? How is it different than what you expected?

06:13 Oh, I from what I answered before I obviously. But I didn't have really any expectations. Think about what it was going to be like when the baby was born. You didn't think about that. I think I concentrated on the birth more than anything. I mean

06:35 Because having never experienced that before that's a huge that feeling either but that pretty much consumed my thoughts of just now getting the baby not just breathing the baby.

06:59 And so I Was preparing for that reading about that, but I thought you weren't reading don't tell me anymore. I've heard enough.

07:21 Okay, how has being a mother affected your view of yourself? I do.

07:34 I just can't answer that right now. I haven't I haven't figured it out. Okay.

07:41 Do you have any ideas done?

07:46 You didn't answer that for us. Yeah, I guess I think of it. I just think of myself as more of a well. I think myself in terms of my relationship with my family as more of the whole family cycle. You are the only meeting you and Belle and Ernie or I think of myself in that cycle as do, you know before it was just me, you know, I was out there doing my thing and you know now I think of myself as just part of that cycle, which is enacted. Yeah connected, but also not as important in a way OST, no heart of a bigger thing. Yeah, so I think I think about death a lot. I know I think about since Isabel was born

08:42 You know, I thought about that more has been born. I think it makes me question my mortality more words before I just fell young and carefree and now it's like I'm going to die.

08:58 Careful because you know you think or I think it sounds terrible because you know, it should be such a you know, a vibrat saying, you know, yeah, you know this child in this new life, but at the same time that new life is is you know brings you closer to there. So yeah you realize that this is the next Generation coming Beyond. Yeah, I thought about how I look at my parents and I think we'll ride is going to be my age and be looking at me in the same, you know.

09:43 I am light and I look at my parents and think like oh my dad, you know, how is my Dad doing and you know, can you still play tennis as well as you used to and all that well, but let's get to that question because another thing I was going to ask you later. What how do you how is becoming a parent affected your relationship with your parents are made you feel up to make you feel any differently about your relationship with your your mother and your father and your family of origin.

10:17 It's made me more grateful for my parents. I've always really loved my parents and knew they were really great people and they did an awesome job raising my brother and I and they're really compassionate and

10:37 They let us experience a lot of did they gave us a lot of opportunities to be ourselves. They don't control Us gift it is but now I realize all the patients and all of the giving and all the sacrifice that they made for us, and I don't think I didn't grasp that before the extent of it.

11:06 Yeah the work.

11:08 I don't think I realized how much work it was. Yeah, your parents had five kids and my grandmother had 16.

11:28 What do you think is the most difficult part of being a parent?

11:34 I really enjoy time by myself and I always took a lot of time to be alone before I was born and now I don't have that as much it's like every free moment is negotiated. He has to either go with his dad or friend and so that the hardest part for me is not being able to do my own thing when I need to

12:05 For me, it's patients now patient has never been one of my strong points and

12:14 Still isn't that hasn't changed. So sometimes I hate, you know, I get pretty upset when you know what I'm trying to fix dinner and America comes in cuz there's a down Cow and Dallas got a dirty diaper, you know, I mean just and then you know her she's screaming, you know that now that's just having the patience to deal with it all and not just go crazy myself.

12:45 Your babies are like a little gift of life life lessons.

12:52 Like everything you need to know you learned from having a child.

13:00 What what's the best part about being a parent?

13:05 Smiling watching all of our kids together is really fun watching Ryan Lacey and

13:19 Watching them learn for me is like it's so incredible and it's so fast before we started make fun of people who are always talking about how smart their kids were.

13:40 What you really get everybody's kid is so smart. And now it's of course you find yourself doing the same thing because they didn't say that or do not know that and it seems so fast that you say call they must be Advanced just the other day. They were emailed a baby and now they're locking the best part for you to lunch and to watch him. Yeah and watch her, you know, check things out, you know on the farm and you know, she loves the

14:14 She's always you know, the first one to spot of bird or an airplane or you know, a baby chicken or you know, I mean, she's always like right in there but you know, which isn't a WhatsApp, but you know, maybe I talk and no one else had seen it, you know, but Bell had spotted it, you know, I'm so it's really need to watch him check stuff out. They don't get distracted by all of the little life detail bogged down in like talking stuff.

14:55 To get distracted by other things like rocks and chicken feathers.

15:05 What are your agenda talked about this a little bit but what are your thoughts on balancing work and your own interests with being a parent? I guess you both touched on this a little bit.

15:14 Thank you. Just have to give up a lot and decide what is really important to me.

15:22 And the other stuff just goes by the wayside because he can't do at all or I find that I can't do it all.

15:30 And so some stuff I've just

15:33 Giving up. Either that or you really rely on your partner. I think ya know cuz I don't think your partner can do it all either. I think that yeah, you just have to set your set your limits, you know before I was in our knees to say that I had no sense of self-preservation, you know that I always just, you know, just tried to

15:56 Knock myself out and he's coming same way. So he's not really want to talk. But but you know, yeah, you have to just rise set your limits and Rise what you can and can't do and

16:12 I want I want to

16:14 Try and follow up on what Pam was kind of suggesting about.

16:21 Setting priorities how its force you to set priorities has have you have there been things that became clear to you as more important as a result of having children?

16:33 What you know, what what what are what are you see as your priorities now?

16:43 I guess I just had a lot of activities before and so it's really pouring down.

16:52 My activities like right now.

16:55 It's summer and I'm farming. So that's the most important thing to me right now, like getting the vegetables to Market and you know harvesting things making sure things get watered and we did and so that's what I focus almost all my energy on.

17:18 It's just and it's seasonal to so in the winter different things are important to me. I have more free time.

17:27 But it's just like what's at the Crocs?

17:32 Of course where I is the most important so

17:35 Converting around his schedule you're both working sort of full-time and caring for your children full time.

17:48 How how is that Ben do you do you feel like your work is getting enough of your energy. Do you feel like your child getting enough of your energy?

17:57 Neither

18:01 Definitely hard

18:05 Yeah, it really depends on everybody's mood attitude makes all the difference.

18:20 Can we take breaks and Mike O'Brien needs an apple will go and do the not playing and or take breaks if it's been a really long day or it's been a couple of long days and I'll just set out like a morning just for him and we'll go do something fun for him playing the irrigation did true.

18:43 Hang out at home and play The Barn cats or something, but I'm sure you do that often to Jen.

18:50 I'm a little bit more relaxed about worth.

18:55 I know I definitely don't do as much as I used to do, you know?

19:08 How to take a couple hours off in the afternoon

19:13 Do we get to ask you these questions survey?

19:24 Outside of your family we talked about our families already, but in terms of

19:29 Community

19:32 When I was pregnant

19:36 I immediately noticed people treated me differently just it felt like I was the door has been opened into a different part of the community.

19:50 I think part of it is because I look really young. So people thought I was a teenager before maybe they thought I was a teenage me. No, but so judgmental about that or no. I felt that I got more respect.

20:08 And I don't know why that is.

20:13 Tina does anything when you're pregnant. Do you leave the farm? I didn't notice much.

20:27 Relationship with others

20:31 II you know a right after I gave birth only thing I can think of it. This is right after you give birth. I had a had a sense of of feeling like, you know, I've never been a big fan of other people to be honest, and I I had a feeling like, you know, everyone has a mother

20:51 You know and everyone's mother.

20:54 You know probably loves them.

21:07 I just felt like I was forced to

21:15 People are better.

21:23 Care Vet I think of that keeps did you practice or something? I thought you know what I already liked her, but I don't know for some reason I thought of her and I thought you know, cuz I never thought of her having a family cuz they live I never met him or anything just to 300% and I thought you know, she has a mother and you don't know I just felt like there was just this connection.

21:53 I really was of oxytocin. I really felt connected more connected to the women in the community because women would come up and tell me their entire. Do you know birth story and

22:12 They are so excited about me having a baby because they could relive their own experience in that and so I just felt a lot more connected.

22:22 Two women in general and especially you know, the young mothers in the community were really supportive and I'm kind of embraced the

22:33 Me and the new baby.

22:36 Yeah, I really had that experience to that's why I asked this question. Like I was prepared when I was pregnant to have a lot of attention and I don't think anyone that. I didn't know ever commented or liked held the door open for me or let me go in front of them in line for the bathroom or anything. I just did not get special treatment is a pregnant person and when I had Lucy I've given up on that thought all together of being a big special and you know, all of a sudden everyone wanted to touch the baby for me. It was even men. I couldn't believe it. You know men that I didn't know old men young men mostly mostly all people with children, but I get really it made me feel that way too and I still feel that way in and it also made me realize that I can do that to other people which I never would have dreamed of doing before and I do now I go up in 00. How old is your baby?

23:28 But I think it's a great feeling that it makes you feel like people care about you in about, you know about the cycle of

23:37 Raising children in the community

23:42 Okay.

23:46 We kind of talked about this a little bit. Although this is just a different slant on the question about your parents and your relationship with your parents. The question that I'm interested now is how was your relationship with your parents when you are growing up and how has that affected your relationship with your child?

24:10 My relationship with my parents when I was growing up.

24:15 Changed obviously like it does for everyone. I remember being really just adoring my father when I was young really young and he took me out of me to parks and my brother is 8 years older. So it kind of felt like I was an only child at times but my dad was just this great Playmate and I loved it and my mom didn't seem as into that the stage that I was in seeing it felt like she really kicked it into gear when I was a pre-teen and teenager and

24:58 I could talk to her about anything and she was really open and she was.

25:05 Non-judgmental really she didn't react a lot.

25:12 So

25:14 I feel like I relied on my parents at different stages. I mean, they're both there all along but

25:23 Yeah, and then as an adult.

25:27 It kind of came together and it kind of even though it were enjoyed both of them equally.

25:32 And I just

25:36 Did different things of my dad than my mom or but

25:40 And how do you think that experience will or is affecting your relationship with Rye?

25:49 I remember what a great Playmate my dad was and so I tried it. I keep that in mind with rye and try to play with him and

25:58 Be joyful, and you know follow me around to do what he wants to do and it's my dad is pretty open with that for me.

26:06 And this my mom taught me just to be a good listener.

26:13 And so I Rise not really talking that much lately. He says he's his dog dog dog dog. He doesn't do sentences much yet, but I hope I will be a good listener for him.

26:31 I hope you can come to me in his teenage years and $25 cute six, but he's hanging in there. So you'll be okay with that.

26:42 Aya.

26:45 I was trying to think of something positive and something negative. But I guess one of the things I was thinking of was just always trying to think of myself cuz my mom never I don't think she ever really thought of herself. You know, she never had a job outside the home and

27:06 Can I think about ex we became?

27:10 Tom's her soul focus and you know, I think that that's

27:16 I don't think I've been very, you know, in any threat of doing that since I work all the time, but but you know, there's there's always that since you don't which is maybe why I work all the time, but you know that tenth of just feeling like I got to have my own stuff going on and I but I do, you know, I don't mean I haven't had many many Baby-Sitters and stuff. So I was trying to think more of of myself and not just you know, in terms of doing work but also doing things on my own or doing stuff with her knee or do you know taking time away from the baby and remembering, you know, we floated the river the other day. I said what I said somebody later I said, you know of it I was alive, you know, like it's like almost like you forget cuz you're just going you know, you just working are you taking care of the baby? Are you doing this and that you know, and so there's Dad and you know, but also just

28:16 You know, she was she is very good Mom though, too. So just trying to be that he not trying to be there for for Bell and

28:25 And my dad was he worked a lot. He wasn't, you know, I wasn't there too much cuz he worked and then he had a long commute. So but he did gardening on the weekends and you know side try to I try to do some of that with Val, you know have her you nice to go out to the garden and have ceased ridetech the pile of strawberries in the peas and all these things that I liked and then I'd sit down in the middle of them and eat them all you know, and you know, that was great and I just yeah, I really love that until I be planted some cherry tomatoes and some peas and stuffing and bells really been enjoying that so yeah.

29:18 Do you have any regrets about becoming or being a parent?

29:25 I might always the first to end. I don't think I have any regrets there are moments where it is so hard that I feel like pulling my hair out or Screaming, you know.

29:46 They're definitely days where I don't feel fit to be a parent.

29:52 But I don't ever regret it. Like I said that Ryan is a gift of life lessons for me. And when I do have those hard days I can look back and say well you just need to learn a little bit more Pam.

30:09 Yeah.

30:12 No regrets just frustrations.

30:18 Sometimes I wish that I had I feel like my life is so

30:23 So sad now, you know, I'm not in some ways that maybe I shouldn't feel like that but sometimes feel like I should have done a lot more things travel a lot more, you know.

30:40 Babies are portable.

30:43 Dairy cows aren't

30:46 You know, the whole thing just goes together so much, you know that farm and the baby in the relationship in the Creamery in the you know whole thing just goes together. So well that and it makes a sort of a

31:00 Sedentary not sedentary. What would the word be?

31:05 A specific life. So yeah, sometimes I wish that I had you know, even though I know I traveled a lot more than a lot of people but I just feel like you know, I'll pay him when he should be a vegetable farmer and then you can take your Winters off the thing, you know, I mean there, you know, they are portable and you know, I need to see if that's what you want to do. You set it up and you do it, you know, and maybe not now but maybe in a few years now, but still he don't I won't be by myself but Loose and fancy free or whatever but that's just comes with the territory I guess.

31:53 What kind of advice would you give to other new mothers?

31:59 I said I read that question. I thought that they should be.

32:05 Be easier on themselves and their Partners, you know, it's just such a hard time the adjustment and now it's not even like you have a really good at just said, I don't think I mean we certainly haven't so I think that that, you know, they should just take it easy and I'll be easy on themselves and I'll try to be

32:32 One finger than the other.

32:35 Is that advice that you take yourself?

32:37 I know it sounds good.

32:47 I agree with Jen of taking time out for yourself. I think that's really important because it is such a huge change in lifestyle and the demands are so great that

33:04 Even taking in a couple hours a week out can retards you.

33:10 And as far as with Partners, my husband Leon told me before I was born. He said I'm not going to take anything you say for the first year.

33:25 The heart as far as when I'm in a really bad mood and being snide with him.

33:32 And I didn't really understand them at first but now I do and I think that is good advice for a couples of just give each other tons of leeway because the lack of sleep and the lack of time. Self and the lack of time for each other really puts a strain on relationships and it's great to raise a kid with somebody else. I can't imagine doing it alone. So if you can keep it together with your partner.

34:04 I think it's a better situation. So giving your partner lots of leeway.

34:15 If you could give advice to your children.

34:19 What would it be?

34:24 I would say follow your

34:27 Follow your gut

34:30 And live intuitively like hardly anybody does but

34:36 I think that's my best advice. I'm going to try to do it.

34:44 Jen

34:48 I didn't get to this question when I was making my newest taking notes on this phone.

34:56 You know, I I guess with me, you know, I want to do some good in the world, you know, so I guess that would be my advice to her. I haven't really thought of advice, you know, I haven't really thought of her as like a big person coming to me for advice.

35:15 Or giving it. So I thought more about diapers and nursing. What are your hopes and dreams for your children?

35:31 Jen

35:39 Just to be happy and do something they love.

35:46 That sounds really canned and

35:52 Not very original but

35:57 I hope Brian has a lot of compassion. I would I strive to have compassion. It's something I have to work on. So you hope he has more than you do I do but I totally hope that him and both of my stepkids. I hope they're way better person than I am and that's all you can really hope. Children that they're better than you are because that's how do you know? That's how the world gets better if it does.

36:27 So I just hope he has tons of compassion for other.

36:31 People in all living things

36:35 Your Buddhist at heart Maybe

36:40 Is there anything we didn't talk about the you want to add?

36:44 What's your hope for Lucy?

36:47 I think that you kind of nailed it with wanting her to be a better person than I am. I don't.

36:53 I don't want her to have.

36:56 The same struggles in the same

36:59 Make the same mistakes, you know, and I'm sure she won't she'll make her own mistakes.

37:08 If I could be now fix it so that she didn't have to make any mistakes I would but she probably would want it that way.

37:18 The thing we had a Time.

37:22 Okay.

37:25 Yeah, yeah.

37:28 Okay, Renee. You ready?

37:34 What about the affected your view of yourself?

37:41 You have to actually I think that

37:47 I

37:49 I'm surprised at how well I've gotten with Lucy I

37:57 Feel like she's compelled me to deal with my demons because I don't want them to affect her or my relationship with her.

38:08 So a lot of pain and see that I've had that I've struggled with in the past.

38:14 I feel like I've

38:16 Try to address.

38:19 As well as I can.

38:21 And I'm less

38:24 Nervous and less controlling and less

38:31 I know protective of her than I thought I would be then I think my natural tendency would be.

38:39 Maybe because I am trying so hard not to be that way.

38:44 You trying to be a better person for her in some regards? Yeah. Yeah. I'm trying to be a better person for her, but it's a nice side effect for me, too.

39:05 Did it?

39:08 I think that was wonderful.