MOM CRUSH: LYDIA
#LATINAMAMA (AKA MAKING LA MADRE) AND ADVERTISING BOSS LYDIA BRINGS A FRESH PERSPECTIVE TO THE ROLE OF (EXTENDED) FAMILY, ADOPTION, TODDLER SCREEN TIME AND THE IMPORTANCE OF UNDERSTANDING PRIVILEGE
INTERVIEW BY KARIN HESSELVIK
PHOTOS BY MIKOLA ACCUARDI
What’s the first thing you remember creating?
A poster for my elementary school’s carnival. I think I was in kindergarten. It was a big clown and I remember gluing pom poms (foreshadowing?) onto it for extra flare. The school liked it so much that I got to go onto the local Portland morning talk show AMNW to promote the carnival.
What’s the most recent thing you created?
A pitch deck at work about "the future of sport."
Are you a kid or a grown up?
Adolescent. I think that as long as my parents are around I am going to feel like a kid. I like the feeling, still making mistakes, still asking for help (lots of it) and still figuring out what I want to do and who I want to be.
What are you most proud of?
My relationships and the people I choose to surround myself with. My best friend I have known since we were one year old, we lived around the block from each other growing up and over the years many cities in between. Now we live on opposite sides of the country, her in Brooklyn and me in Portland. We continue to have a very playful, loyal and connected relationship.
When are you your most creative self?
Being exposed to new ideas and collaborating with others.
What does freedom mean to you?
Time to myself & days when I don’t have to commute.
Name an offline and online space that you turn to for inspiration
Offline: conversation and discussion with girlfriends.
Online: instagram… so #basic! You have to admit though, it is pretty amazing to be on a platform where you can see 24/7 instant visual updates from around the world. I follow artists, creators and personalities from all corners and I love seeing what they share. It is a window into the world.
Who is your female “spirit animal” or lady crush?
Frida Kahlo will always be my spirit animal. Girl crushes: Beyonce, Penelope Cruz & Kidada Jones.
You didn’t plan on becoming a mother when it happened, talk to us about that
Ever since I was young I always assumed that I would get married and have kids when I was in my late thirties to forties. I would spend my thirties focusing on my work and then have kids when I was ready and comfortable with the idea of it all. To my surprise, I ended up marrying my long term boyfriend at 29, and we had Mario a year later, following a collection of trips and busy days which made me disorganized with the pill, whoops! I couldn’t believe that these dominoes were falling over so quickly and was really concerned about how becoming a wife and then a mom would affect my identity. Read Lydia's Making La Madre post on that HERE for more.
How has becoming a mother influenced your career and how you operate at work?
I am extremely fortunate to have my mother living really close and she takes care of Mario every day. She wouldn't have it any other way and we are super spoiled by this set up. Because of her support, Mike and I have kept the same hours at work as we did pre-Mario. We work all day and get our workouts in before picking up Mario at 6:30/ 7:00 and we then eat as a family around 7:30 and then hang out together for some family time before he goes to bed around 9:00.
Three words that describe your take on motherhood
Uninformed, goofy & simple.
How does being a "Latina Mama" impact your life?
I don’t think people recognize me as ‘Latina’ very often. I don’t look like your typical Mexican chick and I look very different from my cousins and siblings. Everyone has some variation of a beautiful mocha, caramel or olive tone to their skin and I look like Snow White. I am extremely proud of my heritage and the culture I come. The focus on family and taking care of each other has become so much more real to me now that I have a kid of my own.
What is your favorite Mexican family tradition?
My mom making the most amazing and artistic cakes and piñatas for our birthdays. Thankfully she has continued the piñata tradition with her grandchildren and for Mario’s first birthday she made an adorable raccoon and this past December for his second birthday she made one that was a slice of pizza. She also made really beautiful and delicate papel picado to decorate the orchard at my uncle’s farm for our wedding.
What was it like to get (3) adopted siblings when you were a teen?
Surprisingly, it was really fluid. Our house was always filled with kids. My mom would take care of my cousins and neighbor kids while their parents worked. When I was 9 years old my family started to foster a handful of kids and my parents had always expressed desire to adopt and communicated about it a lot with me. My grandparents adopted my uncle in their 50’s and other members of my extended family were also adopted. It is something we celebrate.
What role does your mom play in your life now?
We rely on her 500%. We are super fortunate that she lives just up the street from us, a seven minute car ride away. She takes her role as Abuela very seriously and wants to be the caretaker and allow for us to do all the things we need (and want) to do with our lives. She watches my niece and nephew everyday as well as a little cousin, so the house is still filled with kids. Just like it was when I was growing up.
What is a creative/life hack that you’ve learned as a mom?
Let them eat cake! Not all the time and actually not at all. We play ‘make a cake’ and ‘make some soup’ a lot. I use this hack to entertain Mario when I am trying to distract and focus him. He does this with cups, bowls, spoons and random ingredients (water, refrigerator magnets or dried noodles typically). The other night we went to dinner pretty late, 8:30 and prepped to prop the iPhone for his entertainment and confinement. Fortunately the restaurant had plastic cups (win!), a spoon at the ready, water of course, and a paper menu that he quickly mixed into a pulpy soup. He played like this for 30 minutes and it was restaurant toddler dinner time perfection!
What’s the best thing about having a son?
I remember before Mario came and before we knew his gender I was telling Mike that if I had a girl I would love being a good role model of a working mom. Mike was quick to assure me that being a working mom and having a son was almost an even better opportunity. I was so happy he brought that to my attention.
The hardest thing?
The hardest thing for me is coming to terms with the fact that I am raising a privileged "white" boy. While yes, Mario is one quarter Mexican, he is pale just like his mama. He is not going to face the same stereotypes his brown and black skinned cousins or friends do. We come from a diverse family - economically, geographically and racially. I want him to understand his place of privilege and his responsibility as an ally.
One thing Mario has taught you?
That momming can be fun. I was so worried about the burden of taking care of someone 24/7, especially in those early days, weeks and months. I had set the expectation with myself that Mario wasn’t going to be fun to be around until he was one year old, once he became a walking and talking person. To my surprise he became fun at two months!
Your thoughts on screen time? Do or Don’t?
For our family, definitely a do. We are frequent users of the YouTube Kids app and are currently loving the ‘Singing Walrus’ channel. Mario has learned the alphabet, how to count, days of the week, all 12 months and numerous cute songs from the iPad.
What is a real life moment that doesn’t show up on your insta feed?
Sleep, some people post sleep selfies with their kids. I just don’t get it. You obviously are not sleeping if you are taking a selfie!
How do you nurture yourself?
Getting sweaty on the regular. Weekly spin sessions with Jessi at Burncycle keep me feeling centered. Running up to the trails in Mount Tabor to get one on one with nature, most often with the running stroller. And gym workouts with a small group of coworkers make me feel stronger all around. Finally, I'm a believer in getting my nails done on the regular.
How do you stay inspired?
Through exploration on all fronts: reading, eating, meeting, feeling, tasting. Give me all the new stuff!
How do you define success?
One word: HAPPINESS. For years this has been my mantra and something I like to instill into other people. I firmly believe that success cannot be measured. It is a feeling.
What would you do with more time?
Take a major road trip.
What’s a question you wish more people asked?
Would you like fries with that?
What does the word community mean to you?
Support and understanding.
One thing you would still like to do?
Move as a family to Mexico City to live and work for a few years. And find the perfect vintage Moto jacket.
In this current political landscape, what role do you think we can play as creatives and as mothers in affecting positive change?
You really have to practice what you preach. It is easy to be an instagram activist, but what choices are you making on a daily basis to really promote your ideals? Make new friends and break barriers, force yourself to get outside your comfort zone in whatever avenue appeals to you.
One thing you’d like to tell another pom pom mom trying to figure it all out
When someone asks you how you are feeling, take advantage and tell them the truth. Be honest with yourself, your friends and your partner about how you are doing.
In addition to momming and being a badass advertising lady, Lydia also regularly posts about her musings on parenting via her blog Making La Madre. We recommend a peek if you're looking for a fresh (and funny) perspective on this crazy thing we call #momlyfe