The Motherhood in Motion series is a very special collaboration with ALN Images.
As a mother who is no stranger to pivoting, Bridget Jones let us in on what motherhood means to her, what she’s realized this past year, and what a humble idea created for her family.
Did you always know you wanted to be a mother?
Ya, I definitely always wanted to be a mom. I played with babydolls – I still have my babydoll, Amy. She’s up in the attic! I’m an older sister so I loved caring for my younger cousins and my younger sibling and I’ve always just been very motherly. We had kittens growing up and I always wanted to mother them. My identity is really motherly. With our animals, I want to take the best care of them that I can. With our children, I put so much thought and time and research into being the best mom that I can be for them and creating a space in our home and our life that is very open and inclusive. That translates to the farm, as well. We’re a very empathetic family; we spend a lot of time together. I’d like to think of us as really emotionally intelligent and we really make sure our kids feel safe and that they can come to us for anything.
How do you feel like you are truly doing? How’s Bridget?
Bridget is tired, haha! Bridget falls asleep at 8 pm every night in someone’s bed. But, you know, I am very fulfilled. I’ve looked at this time with the kids as a bonus. I’m not going to say I don’t have hard days. Because as moms, we all do. But, I feel like I always felt very pulled in so many directions and the pandemic has narrowed it down to what’s really important. And we’ve spent a lot of good quality time together. There are things that we’ve always wanted to do together but didn’t because of sports, ballet, and music lessons, and school, and all the things. We didn’t really have the capacity to do the things that were kind of like “Bucket List” items. For instance, we took the weekend off recently and went to a state park and looked for shark teeth. We’ve wanted to do that for years but we’d always have a soccer game or dance rehearsal and this has kind of made me realize what’s important.
It’s still a lot, though. Our son is very independent and I’m able to just check over his work every once in a while, but our daughter is in first grade and she’s very active – she needs movement! I can hear her leaning back in her chair and slamming it back onto the floor the whole day. Normally, I’d have her just come run errands or do things around the farm with me, but she’s in school. So, it’s definitely a juggle. But, I will say, I felt like for us it was a renewed sense of quality time and looking at our life and our lifestyle and what are the most important things. For us, we strive to eat dinner together as a family every night. We always have movie night every Friday. You know, we have our little family traditions. It’s those things that the pandemic made me realize that are most important.
What do you feel like is the hardest part of motherhood for you?
It changes. One thing my aunt said to me when I first had our son was “It doesn’t get easier, it just gets different.” You’re so physically exhausted in the newborn to preschool phase because you’re chasing them around and you’re really on Mom Duty physically. But then as they get a little bit older, like with my middle schooler, it gets a bit more emotionally taxing. But, I would say that probably the hardest thing right now where I’m at personally is time with Matt, my husband.
I don’t know if you know about the Love Languages but one of mine is quality time. How do we get quality time when we can’t get a babysitter, our daughter doesn’t sleep. She’s just my wild child. But how do you carve that time out with your husband? He has a career off the farm. We also have a farm. Our children are home 99% of the time right now, and there’s not an option to outsource care. So really carving out time to have actual quality time with each other has been really hard recently.
You’ve experienced so many different phases within motherhood. What’s your favorite age to mother, so far?
I actually have two different favorite ages. Our son, he was our first, was the happiest, most fun baby. He was just a joy to be around and spend time with and he was just happy. So I loved that time with him. With our daughter, it was a really big struggle. I actually had some Postpartum Depression after her. I don’t know if it was having a boy and a girl, but I didn’t bond very well with her in the beginning. With our son, it was immediate. With our daughter, it was a completely different experience. I mentioned she doesn’t sleep; I was so sleep deprived. With both of them, I really enjoyed the two to three year old stage which I know sounds insane. I’m a very big supporter of having your expectations of your children from the very getgo. Even as babies our children can understand us. As they’re learning to speak, they already know what we understand; we see that through sign language and other things. Matt and I luckily agree on 99% of parenting so we had expectations and it made our children really enjoyable at 2 and 3 years old. They had their moments, of course every child does. But they knew how to operate in our family already.
We agree that we’re always communicating with our children. Through body language, sign language, and such. That’s such a great point! They come to know the family schedule and what to expect.
Yes, schedules are my thing! Knowing what to expect, all those things are my type of parenting. It has changed a little bit, especially with our son, who is now in middle school. But, one of the things that I strive to do is give heads up. “Alright, buddy, today at noon I’m going to go run to Aldi.” And he knows I’m not just leaving and he’s like “What?”. So there’s trust there and they know how to function in our household. But the little toddler stage is just so cute. I wanted to eat them. Their little voices! We’d sing songs, and we had our routines down, spending our time together. Those were probably some of my most cherished times with both children.
With our son, everything was a first. His first day of preschool, his first day of Kindergarten, everything was a first for him but also for Matt and I as parents. But with our daughter, we’ve already experienced it, so there’s less nervousness from our end about her firsts. I think that it may be why our son is a little bit more cautious, a bit more reserved, and our daughter is more outgoing and the life of the party. I really do think she’s operating out in the world that way, partly because it’s her personality, but also because Matt and I haven’t been worrying about what to expect; we’ve already done it. We experienced parenting together for so long before she came and now it’s like old-hat for us.
What do you feel like the most beautiful part of motherhood?
I’m seeing my children’s personalities evolve and I’m so excited to be their friends when they’re older. Seeing them become these little people that are learning how to function, not just here but out in the world, and seeing them make new friends. Right now, the most beautiful part of motherhood is that my children get to grow up in a life with two parents that love them and love each other and they’re given the opportunity to just be kids. To know your parents love each other and that they’re committed to each other and committed to their kids, lets us be able to watch our kids just be kids. There’s no external pressure to be anything other than just a kid and it’s the thing I’ve given them that I’m most proud of.
What is the most frustrating part of your days?
Running errands. Haha! I hate running errands. I hate leaving the farm because I have so much to do. I hate getting kids in and out of the car. I’d much rather just be able to go get it myself and now around the hybrid schooling schedule it’s really a struggle. I know that sounds like such a first world problem but that’s the most frustrating part of life right now, is finding the time to get things done off of the farm.
What do you feel like you discovered about yourself within motherhood?
Yes, positive and negative, honestly. I don’t mean to put a negative spin on this, but motherhood really brought out a lot of my past trauma. Thankfully I have a super supportive husband and family and I’ve done a lot of work through my 20’s and 30’s on myself. Spiralling off of the postpartum depression, even though it was really hard, that work was much needed. Now I can be a better mom for my kids having done that hard work.
On a positive note, creating a welcoming and comforting space is so important to me. In our home but also on our farm. I actually really got into interior design after we became a family and had kids because I wanted our house to feel like a hug, you know? I wanted it to be sentimental. We live in what was Matt’s grandmother’s house and I’ve completely redone 90% of the house and updated it to our preference but everything we have in our home is somehow sentimental. If you see something, it has a meaning to us.
I’ve always been a sentimental person but motherhood brought that out even more in me. We have a quilt that Matt’s great – grandmother made of clothing items of people that lived and worked on the farm. Our kids can see the history of our home in that. We made a mantel from one of the barns on the property and then dug up iron ore rocks from our land with our kids and used those to enclose our fireplace. Everytime I see it, it not only connects me to the past but also to our family. It’s like this juxtaposition to the past and our family and the generational strongholds we’re breaking. We’re creating a new path forward while still honoring the past.
We love that! What a beautiful sentiment. Do you feel like you have any sort of struggle with maintaining your own identity through motherhood?
That’s a loaded question, especially for me. Becoming a mom at 18, I didn’t really know who I was. I was still in that identity phase. Who am I? What do I want to do? Who do I want to be? In a lot of ways, I grew up alongside our son and in a lot of ways found my identity to be “mom.” It wasn’t until I was really struggling with postpartum depression and doing that self work that I realized it was okay for me to have interests and passions outside of motherhood. Thankfully, a lot of the things I’m interested in and love to do coincide with the way that I lead my life. You know, the chickens, I love to bake, I love to craft for our home. Matt gave me an embroidery set for Christmas so I’ve been playing with that. I really enjoy being creative and I actually did not do a lot of that in my childhood. I didn’t think I was creative. I was a huge bookworm and read all of the time. I’ve instilled that into my children! But I also want them to see that they can be multiple things and enjoy a lot of different things.
I’ve heard a lot of women say this and I feel like a lot of women can relate that in your 30’s you really start to realize “I am who I am. I’m confident with who I am.” and you really start to feel at home in your skin. There are times that I still feel like, “Oh, gosh” but I remind myself that my kids see me as their mom and that’s beautiful to them. So, I need to see myself in that light and be kind to myself. Because if I’m not in the picture or if I’m not putting on my bathing suit and hopping in the pool, they’re going to relate to that and it will become a part of who they are. I want my kids to see that I embrace myself and I love myself for who I am and that I have things that I enjoy outside of being their mom because they should have those things when they become adults, as well.
What do you hope your children remember about you and their childhoods?
I’m actually really excited to be a grandma. Haha! Obviously much later in life, but I’m really excited to be a grandmother. That’s pretty much my life goal. I want to be able to tell my kids to drop off the grandkids for the weekend and go be adults. That’s probably in part because of my love language but I also think it’s just so important for parents to have their own identities, separately and together outside of parenthood.
I want them to feel super loved. I want them to feel like I was their person. I want them to remember a really loving home. Even though nobody’s perfect, I strived to give them their best upbringing and that I loved them equally and unconditionally. At the end of the day what I want the most for them (and I hope this is translated into the way that I parent) is that if something were to happen to me, our children could take care of themselves. I don’t just mean physically – emotionally, spiritually, all the things. I want them to love themselves as much as I love them. I hope that’s what they remember.
Would you be willing to share a bit more about the postpartum depression that you experienced?
One of the things that I firmly believe is that when we’re in survival mode, as I was when I had our son, we don’t actually have the time or the capacity to have mental health issues come up. You just can’t. Those things that are brewing don’t come up because there isn’t space for it. By the time I had our daughter, I was in a loving marriage, our son had been adopted by Matt, I was surrounded by an amazing in-law family and for whatever reason my body just decided “It’s time for you to go crazy.” Even being pregnant with her, I was mad about everything, everyone was on my nerves. I was mean, so mean and I didn’t know why. When I had her, Matt bonded with her right away. He had adopted our son, and that was such a special thing, but he hadn’t experienced a birth before and that was his first. He was smitten with her right away. He was experiencing exactly what I went through when I had our son, and I didn’t understand why I was so disconnected from her. Even when I had her I was like “Oh, there’s a baby.”
I feel all those things now, we’re totally bonded but it took a couple of years, really. I guess I felt like here’s this little baby and our son is finally in school, I’m fairly newly married, and I should be happy about all of this. I was nursing her, she was unhappy and uncomfortable, (we’re still really not sure why) and it was just a really difficult time for me. Honestly, I feel like even after weaning her I went back to the gym and tried to make that a priority for my mental health and even that was stressful. She got Hand Foot and Mouth from the gym daycare while Matt and our son were off on a Father-Son trip and I was like, “Why is this my life right now?” I thought everything was supposed to be perfect; I got married to the right guy, he adopted our son, I had our baby that we planned for and now I feel like my life is just over. I couldn’t do anything and I wanted to do things. I just wasn’t happy. I ended up seeing someone and beginning the work and realized a lot of it was my own insecurities. If I’m really transparent, I honestly was jealous. I was jealous Matt loved her so much and that they bonded right away. She was my daughter and I didn’t bond. You’re supposed to have this mother-daughter thing and she required so much attention that I was the last person on the priority list, even to myself. That took a huge toll emotionally on me and it took a couple of years to get back to normal.
By her second birthday, I was just so in love with her. In that regard, we were good. But then, it almost spurred a better understanding of my own mental health and pushed me to get on track. The postpartum part, I didn’t know that I wasn’t being myself. I think that’s the scariest part about it. I was so clouded that I just thought, “This is who I am now.” I thought it was just normal.
Tell us about Wildberry Farm!
BJ: My husband’s family has been here since the 1930’s. They started with horses, pigs, chickens, cows, produce, and they had an orchard. Then in the 60’s it was a tobacco farm up until about the 80’s so Matt did work a little bit on the farm when it was tobacco. And then later in the 80’s and into the 90’s, Matt’s dad worked for the carpenter’s union and then sold produce at stands around the area. We kind of have just crazy hustlers in this family. They’re always doing stuff! But a farmer from down the road was also farming the land to keep it active for tax purposes.
I was a stay at home mom for many years and then I started working when Matt created his career in the boat industry. He worked as the restoration head for a company in Annapolis and then branched off to create his own business with his apprentice. I did their social media and marketing and when our daughter went to preschool, I also worked at her preschool. Matt’s company merged with another and I took over their social media and marketing. When our daughter started Kindergarten, I felt like it was time for me to move on from the preschool. It wasn’t my career; it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. I love, love, love teaching kids but it was a struggle for me because I was giving my all to other people’s kids and then would come home and only had exhaustion for my own kids. I felt really torn about that. Once Matt’s company finished merging they decided to do all marketing in-house and I was kind of like, “What am I going to do?”
I had this sort of dream. I wanted chickens, I wanted a cute farm stand and to sell my extra produce. Sort of like, a passion project for me, but also would be fulfilling a need on the farm. I talked to my sister-in-law about it and she was like “Yes! You have to do it!”. I spoke to my extended family that lives on the farm and they were also super into it.
The farmer who was farming us ended up passing and we had to figure out what to do with the farm anyway. So, it sort of snowballed onto itself. The farm has been here for many generations, but Wildberry is the new name that encompasses what we’re doing in regards to Agri-tourism. Agri-tourism being anything that has to do with your agriculture that brings people to the farm. What started out as me thinking I’d just have my farmstand and sell my extra produce and my eggs has turned into something bigger. I didn’t think we’d be farming the fields! But Matt has always wanted to farm. We are learning. Matt has experience, and I have Google! But, you know, we’ve had our fair share of mishaps. We planted fields of sunflowers last year and the deer ate every single last one. It was terrible! So much money wasted! But it was a learning experience and, you know, you pivot.
We have so many dreams. So many. And it’s breathed new life into really everyone up here, which is really cool. Because for so many years we weren’t sure what we were going to do after the land wasn’t being farmed anymore. And it’s kind of ironic that it took me, an outsider that didn’t grow up farming, to have this idea. But my father-in-law is super excited because he was so worried, Matt’s really excited because he’s always wanted to do something like this, and I’m really excited because I’ve always been a super big supporter of small businesses, specifically women-owned small businesses and our field market is such a cool community based activity. It’s so cool, I get to sell my produce and we get to support other small businesses. Everything you’re buying is literally helping a family in this community and that is my heart. You’re buying a ballet lesson, you’re buying dinner, whatever it may be, for a family down the road. It’s been a really cool journey, so far.
I’ve always had a passion for supporting women. We, as women, accomplish so much. We really, really do.
That is a huge passion of mine. I really do feel like it’s tied into my wanting to make things feel like home. Whenever anyone comes here, whether it’s for yoga, or a workshop, or a farm-to-table meal, or the field market – I want them to feel like they’re at home. It’s a very peaceful place. We want everyone to feel welcome and for it to be accessible to everybody. When you’re up here, you’re part of the family. And, you know, it’s a joy for me to share this beautiful setting with everybody in our community. That’s really the heart behind all of this.
Matt and I have always loved to host. Before Wildberry, we loved to have pumpkin carving parties, birthday parties – we’ve had so much fun here. That’s really what we’re trying to carry over to our events and markets. We also host photographers here. Being a mom, and having been a teacher at school that was extremely inclusive, I wanted to offer a space where families with children with special needs can come and have the place to themselves. It doesn’t matter what’s going on. It doesn’t matter if your child has a meltdown – that happens! You’re here by yourself. Really everything we do is very intentional. All our events, our offerings, and our workshops are the same in that way – they’re very intentional. I really want this to be a community-centered location that feels like you’re welcome no matter who you are, what you do, what you believe in, where you’ve been; you can be here and spend some time in nature.
I cannot explain to you how amazing the entire experience has been. I didn’t expect it to be like this. I had an idea, and I had the space, and a supportive family, and this has been the fruit of it. It’s really humbling, honestly.
Mark your calendars to come see Bridget in person at Wildberry Farm’s Field Market; the next one is 9am-1pm on June 26th! You can also connect with her (and catch a peek of her precious chicken flock and new bunny, Juniper Berry!) on social media or on the farm’s website.
Thank you, Alli, for the beautiful photography.