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Meet Renee, mother of two and one woman on a serious mission to change the way we view and talk about motherhood. She is all about honoring the woman within the mother and is stripping back the stereotypes and opening up with raw, real and honest conservations in her digital magazine, The Woman Born. It is so refreshing to listen to Renee talk about motherhood. Leaving judgment and comparison at the door. She champions what we, as mothers, as woman need and should not be afraid to ask or go for.

We are so excited to share with you our Q&A with this incredible woman, mother and entrepreneur.

Meet, Renee Frojo, Founder of The Woman Born.

1.Can you tell our readers a little about The Woman Born, your mission and your journey to how it all got started?

We’re a digital magazine with a mission to honor the woman within the mother. It’s a space where the woman’s wellbeing can come first—not last. With powerful personal essays and researched investigative stories, we’re hoping to shift the conversation around motherhood in a way that’s distinct from parenting. You can think of it as mothering the mother.

I recognized the need for this space after becoming a mother myself and having lots of conversations with all my mom friends about the way we approach motherhood in our society. There are a lot of labels cast on mothers these days—an order of identities, you could say, with neat little categories we’re all expected to fit into. We’re martyrs, superheroes, and saints. We’re stay-at-home or working. We’re selfless or selfish. We’re good moms. We’re bad moms. And throughout it all, our needs are always the last to be considered.

What I found when starting Woman Born is that many of us are tired of trying to fit into any of those labels. We’re exhausted by trying to fulfill an impossible ideal of selfless motherhood. We’ve reached our limit with all the beautiful, flawless images of motherhood crafted by individuals and brands on social media. We need more support than we’re getting from every angle. Many of us need more to feel whole. And we’re hungry to connect over experiences that are real, raw, and honest.

As a mother of two young daughters, I wanted to create a space that encourages a new dialog around motherhood—one that truly supports women in this profound transition, as opposed to perpetuating a model that’s unrealistic or aspirational

2. We love this theme of ‘mothering yourself’ you have filtered throughout your content. What does ‘mothering yourself’ mean to you?

It means casting aside the guilt. It means speaking up for myself, asking for help and not giving into gendered roles that don’t serve me.

I believe that we don’t need to feel guilty about giving equal priority to our needs as to the needs of our kids or our families. And we certainly don’t need to feel like we’re being selfish because we’re taking care of ourselves.

Like many mothers I know, it took me a while to figure out that if I’m happy because I prioritized exercise in my day or asked my husband to get up with the kids while I slept in or even fed myself a real meal instead of scavenging off my kid’s highchair tray, that I’m actually a better parent.

It’s the idea of putting the oxygen mask on yourself first. It might sound cliche, but it’s true!

Photo cred: Zoe Larkin Photography

Photo cred: Zoe Larkin Photography

3. What do you do for self-care each week. What are your non-negotiables for your own personal wellbeing?

Exercise, sleep and alone time or time with friends.

I have to do something active at least 5 days per week, even if that means taking a hike with or going to a trampoline park with the kids to get in some activity.

Sleep, obviously, is sometimes harder to come by. But if my girls are having a hard time sleeping at night for whatever reason and I don’t get enough of it, I mandate early bedtimes and try to get in a nap, even if that means not getting chores or errands done.

As for alone time or time with friends, there’s nothing I find more rejuvenating. It might be a phone call, or dinner or a night out, but I have to be around people who remind me that I’m not just a parent and can talk and laugh about so many other interesting things.

4.Becoming a mom for the first time, can at times feel isolating. How did you find community as a first time mother?

No doubt. I did a lot of things, including taking advantage of all the “Mommy and Me” groups I could find around San Francisco. Most of the hospitals host groups, as does Natural Resources in the Mission. I also went to mommy and me yoga classes and joined in on activities organized by communities like Main Street Mamas and the Golden Gate Mother’s Association.

Ultimately I found my “mom tribe” and some of my best friends to this day in my neighborhood at the playground. We met when our kids were really little and started by just saying “hi” and making plans to be at the playground at the same time.

It can be intimidating, but I realized that everyone is in the same boat, and many mothers are just hoping someone will take the lead and say, “Want to meet up for a playdate?” I encourage women to be that mother! What do you have to lose?

learning that no one else is going to advocate for me and that it’s up to me (and only me) to take care of myself and make sure my needs are getting met has made me a happier person and better mother.

5. What is the biggest lesson you have learned since becoming a mother?

That it’s impossible to know what the experience is like until you’ve been through it yourself.

Like many people, I had a lot of ideas of what I would be like as a mother and judged a lot of mothers on their choices. Now, I realize that everyone makes different choices for different reasons and every mother is justified in making those choices. There is no need to judge or feel judged. I, for one, feel best about who I am and what I’m doing when I shut out the noise—when I stop comparing myself to other mothers or social media or things I read in parenting articles. I just make the best choices I can for myself and my family.

And not to sound like a broken record, but learning that no one else is going to advocate for me and that it’s up to me (and only me) to take care of myself and make sure my needs are getting met has made me a happier person and better mother.

Photo cred: Zoe Larkin Photography

Photo cred: Zoe Larkin Photography

6.How do you balance running your own business and being a mom? Any tips to share with our readers.

For me, balance happens throughout the week—not in any given day.

For example, on Mondays and Tuesdays I only see my kids for an hour in the morning and an hour at night. So, I kill it at work, but I have to sacrifice time with my kids. Then, on Wednesday, my nanny has the day off and I spend all day with my kids and get some errands, chores or cooking for the week done while they’re sleeping. So, I kill it at parenting and domestic stuff and I sacrifice a day of work. And so on and so forth.

By the end of the week I feel pretty balanced because I’m able to have dedicated days at a time to focus on the one thing as opposed to trying to juggle all the things in one day.

7.If you could give one gift to all the mothers in the world, what would that be?

Real, genuine connection. I would love it if all mothers could find a person or a group or a space where they could talk openly and honestly about their experiences without the fear of being judged or feeling like failures because they’re not keeping up with an ideal image of motherhood.

We all know it’s wonderful and hard, so why can’t we just be real with each other?

It would be a real gift.

Need something good to read? Then we highly recommend you checking out Renee’s digital magazine The Woman Born for some inspiring essays written by mothers, for mothers.

To join the movement and follow along head to @thewomanborn

Enjoy reading, mamas!

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