MOM CRUSH: MELISSA

PORTLAND, OR

macrame ARTIST + designer Melissa SHEDS TRUTH ON THE STRUGGLE (AND JOY) OF STAY-AT-HOME MOMMING, THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING "REAL" CONVERSATIONS WITH YOUR CHILDREN AND HOW CREATIVITY IS THE BEST RECIPE FOR UNFOGGING THE "MOM BRAIN"

INTERVIEW BY KARIN HESSELVIK

PHOTOS BY CARA DENISON & APRIL MIRVIS

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What’s the first thing you remember creating?

Creating my outfits with Mom.  She would sew some of my clothes and holiday dresses.  I remember being a part of picking the patterns and the fabric.  I was picky about clothing even back then.

What’s the most recent thing you created?

I was recently commissioned to make a large pale pink macramé wall hanging for a child’s room.  I had to dye over 900 feet of cotton rope for the project!

Are you a kid or a grown up?

I am a Lady Baby.  I am also a Libra, so I like to keep a balanced perspective.  Since becoming a mother, I consider myself more grown up than ever before.  I enjoy guiding these little souls through it all.  I am reminded (and need to check myself from time to time) that I have my kiddos looking up to me.  Even when I want to throw my own temper tantrums, I need to remember I am the example for them.  I have always felt forever young and as a stay at home mom, I am reminded to keep my kid heart open. Children have the most vast imaginations and open minds, we can all learn a thing or two from them by just getting down on their level and following their lead.

What are you most proud of?

My 37 years of this life.  I have never been a planner and have always just walked in the direction I felt I should.  Whether good or bad, I feel that my life experience up to this point has made me who I am: the mother that I am, the partner that I am, and the friend that I am.  I am proud of that.

When are you your most creative self?

When I am alone in my own thoughts.  I like to imagine my designs in my head before I move forward.  Having this space and solitude allows my imagination to flourish.  When it is time to get down and create (because I have a design deadline), Joy Division and Future Islands do something for me.  

 What does freedom mean to you?

No clocks. 

Your favorite place to hang out at home and why?

Our kitchen nook.  It has lovely light all times of the year and is framed by a beautiful sash window.  During the spring, the Wisteria and Lilac trees that bloom outside the window create a canopy of purple that is magical as can be.  Since we are at home a lot, the nook tends to be the place we spend most of our days.   The kids like to do art and play here too, which helps keep their little hands busy while I making their umpteenth meal/snack of the day.

What’s something that energizes you?

Dancing, I love to dance!  I don’t get out dancing much since becoming a mom.  The kids and I get down pretty hard at ‘Club Grandkoski’ from time to time, ha ha.   Just getting out and being in a social setting also energizes me.  I love good company and all the conversation that comes along with it. 

What’s something that brings you peace?

Yoga has saved me.  I am a more patient mom since I have been routinely going to yoga.  I feel good during and I feel good after.  It brings great internal peace for me, which I find so necessary as a stay at home mom.  

Who is your female spirit animal? 

Patti Smith.  Her music, her words, her art, and her activism.

Three words that describe your take on motherhood

Patience, Love, Crazy

What have you learned about yourself since becoming a mother?

How insanely powerful a woman’s body is.  Through pregnancy, birth, providing nourishment for our young, and our ability to unconditionally love these tiny humans who call us “Mom.”  It is incredibly empowering becoming a mother.  Respect to early civilizations worshiping the Mother Goddess.  And that I can multitask like no one’s business!

What role does creativity play in how you parent?

Major.  My husband and I both are designers and artistic, so we enjoy creating with the children.  Whether it is painting, drawing, using clay, making up stories, dancing, we like to keep the kids motivated in the arts.  It is a changing time for the future generations.  Art and music are falling by the wayside in many schools these days.  I hope that by keeping my children engaged in creative outlets from a young age, it will help them with self-expression down the line.

What are some creative hacks that you’ve learned as a mom?

Since I am with both my kids all day, I have had to learn skills to keep the mama train moving forward without a major crash and burn.  So for the easy ones: always have 1-2 stashed diapers in your car for an emergency, keep changes of clothes for kids in the car, always have snacks in your bag, and keep a stash of crayons and paper in your bag for restaurant play.  Also, I am a fan of the “The Dolphin Way” parenting approach and not over scheduling our lifestyle.

 Best thing about having two kids (2 years apart)?

Aya (4 ½) and Talon (2) are just now starting to play together.  It warms my heart when I hear the two of them playing a game together, laughing and giggling.   I hope the two of them will remain close and always have each other’s back.  My little Mom Dream is that they will always be best buds.

Hardest thing?

My job is never done.  Since they are both so young, they rely on me for everything, so I am mom 24 hours a day.  Sleep deprivation is also pure torture.

 What’s a secret your kids don’t know?

That I struggle with being a stay at home mom.  I left my career path to stay at home with them and I would not change that for the world, but I still struggle daily with this new mom life. I miss the social interactions the workplace brings.  I miss seeing completion to the work you put in.  At home, your work is never truly done and you don’t get that same satisfaction of seeing a project come full circle.   I cry sometimes when they aren’t looking, feeling that I have exhausted all I have to give.  But then they say, “I love you Mommy” in their sweet voices and I smile and remind myself that they will not be mini for ever and that I will one day pick up with my personal career endeavors again.

How do you nurture yourself?

My yoga practice, spending time outside the house with my friends sans kids, and using my creative brain.  Creating art in some way shape or form keeps me alive and keeps my Mom Brain from falling too deeply into the fog. 

How do you balance your workload while being a stay at home mom?

Honestly, it's not easy.  I am the Women’s Outerwear Designer for a local snowboard outerwear company, Since the collection is so seasonal, I am able to stay on Freelance basis and work from home.  There isn’t much time for me to work during the week, so I usually have to give up weekends.  My husband takes the kids out and I just try and power through some work.  I also try and fit work in when there are naps being taken or after bedtime.  I also set up art projects in my home studio for Aya while I macramé.  She is creating alongside me, which works well too.  

How do you define success?

My current view of success is much different than it would have been 5 years ago while in the workforce.  It is really hard to gauge success as a parent.  Sometimes the accomplishments aren’t as apparent in the short term.  Of course there are the little victories of the day, but these little humans are always evolving and growing intellectually, which is exciting, but means new challenges every day.  To me, “success” in parenthood is never fully achieved because to me, success means that “you made it, you did it!”  The term implies some end point, but in parenting I push myself continuously, every day, and grow in new ways I never knew I could.  

How do you stay inspired?

Since my free time to venture out is pretty limited these days, I find Instagram inspiring.  I follow artist, fashion brands, travel sites, yoga teachers, shops, and interior lovers, creating my own little random batch of instant inspiration.   

What’s your biggest struggle right now?

Being home with the kids all day can get pretty lonely.  There are many days when I don’t have a single conversation with someone over the age of 5.  I don’t have time to read books, and can barely keep up on current events… sometimes I feel that my quick wit and intellect are a bit fogged over these days.

What is a real life moment that doesn’t show up on your insta feed?

When Talon, who is newly potty training, just pooped his pants and I’m trying to clean it all up.  About 5 minutes later, he points out the poop smear on my shirt I had no idea was there.  Super Awesome.  

What would you do with more time?

Listen to more Ted Talks and Podcasts.  Go to more vintage and antique stores.

What’s one thing you would still like to do?

I would love to open a retail shop at some point in my life and curate my ideas into an actual space. 

One lesson from 2016?

Check in with myself more.

One dream for 2017?

Since I just finished breastfeeding my youngest, I dream of spending a solo weekend in a fancy hotel, eating, sleeping, drinking, showering, and going to the bathroom all in peace.

In this current political landscape, what role do you think we can play as creatives and as mothers in affecting change?

Communication is key.  We need to be talking to each other, and talking to our children about what’s happening in a real way.  My children are very young, but I still try to explain to Aya, my 4 year old, why I am upset with political happenings.  She might not be able to totally grasp it yet, but I want to keep my children informed with out pushing too much of my opinions on them.  I think this is one of the main problems of our society.  Parents push their beliefs onto their children without giving them the all the facts, or - maybe more importantly - without teaching their kids how to find information, process, and make their own decisions, thus perpetuating the cycle of closed-minded thinkers.

One thing you’d like to tell another pom pom mom trying to figure it all out.

Lower your expectations.  Sounds negative, but what I really have learned as a mom with two Littles in tow… is to just roll with it.  If you expect too much, your bound to get let down, which brings you down.  When you’re down, it bums the kiddos out too.  If you just take life one day at a time and welcome whatever the day brings, you’ll find you are more fulfilled than if you were trying to control it all.  Live in the moment a little more every day, the future will come soon enough.

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