DOUBLE MOM CRUSH: HANNAH & KELTY
Photos by nikki fenix
interview by karin hesselvik
‘show up and grow up’ is the motto behind Upbringing - a parenthood podcast duo that consists of one half Hannah and one half Kelty, the rad twin sister mamas who are living life on their terms with their partners and four children on a farm outside Portland, OR. they bring a rare humility, judgement-free and open perspective to the world of mothering that they share on their newish bi-weekly podcast. we got lucky enough to spend an afternoon with them at home chatting all things therapy, the power of twin-momming, activism and why the job of parenthood is a major work in progress.
WHAT’S THE FIRST THING YOU REMEMBER CREATING?
Around 4 or 5, I’d fashion little blank books from fresh white paper and staples- I remember struggling to cut the pieces all the same size, or putting too many together and the staple not grabbing the last chunk of pages… I’ll never forget that feeling when it all worked and I had a fresh book that was ready to be written and illustrated. Magical zingies of potential!
Around that same age I was spending a lot of time in the trees, and I’d find a sturdy twig and then adorn it with leaves and moss, fastening them with flower stems and helicopter bunches. I called them Nature Sticks and would leave them on neighbor’s porches.
WHAT’S THE MOST RECENT THING YOU CREATED?
A multi-braid hair situation for my 5 year old daughter - she’s been wanting me to braid her hair before bed when it’s wet so that she can wake up with a mermaid ‘do. It’s a calming practice, the rhythm of braiding, and I always love a good before and after.
Our farm has a large flower bed filled with rainbow zinnias, straw flowers, celosia and general wildness like random pumpkins and orach from season’s past. Cutting and arranging out there in the morning or evening is heaven, and it feels damn good to share the bounty with friends and strangers.
A talk on Siblings for parents at our kids' Montessori school. It's based on changing our belief that conflict is negative to the notion that sibling challenges are an awesome opportunity to build some valuable social & relationship skills!
ARE YOU KIDS OR GROWN UPS?
Both? “Big” is one of our favorite movies, and that’s how we see ourselves (and everybody else, to be honest) - little kids trapped in grownup bodies. When we remember this, we take better care of the younger “us” - forgiving our blunders, laughing at it all and endeavoring to enjoy each moment.
WHEN THE LITTLE US IS TAKEN CARE OF, WE CAN HONOR AND EXPERIENCE THE CURRENT US. WE CAN LIVE WITH LESS FEAR AND MORE JOY, WITNESS AND ATTEND TO OTHERS’ NEEDS, KICK ASS AND LET THE TRUE US HANG OUT AND LOVE LIFE IN ALL HER IMPERFECT AUTHENTICITY.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF ?
We can’t take credit for being twins, but we’re proud of our connection. We've worked our asses off on our relationship, but ultimately our bond is the biggest gift we can give to and receive from one another. That pride in who we are together inspires us to give to and receive from others in our lives, too.
WHEN ARE YOU YOUR MOST CREATIVE SELF?
With Hannah as we power walk somewhere beautiful, pulling energy from the sights and smells around us as we debrief, brainstorm and dream.
Being together with Kelty in the car with our coffees, ranting, raving and hopefully catching some of it on Marco Polo to hash through later while not missing our exit or getting pulled over in all the creative excitement.
THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE YOUR TAKE ON MOTHERHOOD ?
Staggering. Hilarious. Transformative.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT YOURSELVES SINCE BECOMING MOTHERS?
That WE have just as much growing up to do as our kids.
WHAT WAS YOUR OWN UPBRINGING LIKE?
Our dad was a musician who worked in tech as a professional speaker and our mom was a drama nerd and painter. They gave us a lot of freedom and left us to climb trees, make things and play pretend on our own most of the time. As kids who were introverted and sensitive, our parents’ more bold, unapologetic way of moving through the world was inspiring. They encouraged us to do whatever works, to laugh at ourselves and to look at others’ behavior as clues to their inner struggles, not a reason to judge them.
WHAT ROLE DOES CREATIVITY PLAY IN HOW YOU PARENT?
Without creativity we’d be bitchy head cases. We see creativity as the critical glasses we slip on to keep perspective, take things less seriously, think outside the box, stay curious, problem solve and witness the beauty around us. Creativity isn’t something to force or expect - it’s something we’ve gotta summon, practice and honor as the key to making it all feel worth it at work and home.
BEST THING ABOUT HAVING A TWIN AND FELLOW MAMA TO PARENT WITH?
We tackle one another’s struggles as a team and celebrate as one, too. Our kids get to grow up as siblings and we get one another on this crazy ride.
We can easily see what differences in the kids are caused by our husbands and can love them / blame them extra… Ha!
HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
As Lou Reed says, “doin’ the things that we want to”.
HOW DO YOU STAY INSPIRED?
Getting out of our farm bubble and talking to people. We’re naturally introverted beings and often get exhausted with limited free time, but experiencing people out and about, living their dreams gives us inspiration and perspective.
WHAT’S A QUESTION YOU WISH MORE PEOPLE ASKED?
Is it true, is it kind, is it necessary?
WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST STRUGGLE RIGHT NOW?
To just be here now. We're midway through an 8 week course on mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and it's kicking our asses! Coming to terms with how distracted and in our own minds we typically live has been beyond disturbing, but the process and practice of formal meditation and daily mindfulness has been life-changing. Well worth the struggle!
WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH MORE TIME?
Read more, shower slower, friend better, cuddle longer.
Design and assemble photo albums of every year since since I had a camera. I’ve been doing a polaroid a day for the past three years, but knowing all my other photos are rotting on a computer drive just kills me.
WHO IS YOUR LADY CRUSH AND WHY?
Though we have yet to read Eat Pray Love or Wild, if we ever saw Elizabeth Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed in person we’d kidnap them. They’re like a two-headed mythical creature to us - their respective podcasts on creativity and relationships were game-changing for us. We love how they cut the crap and show up authentically with wit, vulnerability and magic.
WHY DO YOU THINK BEING PART OF A FEMALE COMMUNITY IS IMPORTANT?
BECAUSE WE’RE BETTER TOGETHER. PARENTING, ESPECIALLY, IS AN ISOLATING EXPERIENCE FULL OF JUDGEMENT AND INSECURITY. WHEN WE OPEN UP TO ONE ANOTHER, ESPECIALLY ABOUT THE HARD STUFF, WE BECOME A CONNECTED TRIBE THAT TEACHES AND LEARNS FROM EACH OTHER.
IN THIS CURRENT POLITICAL LANDSCAPE, WHAT ROLE DO YOU THINK WE CAN PLAY AS CREATIVES AND AS MOTHERS IN AFFECTING CHANGE?
We believe in the notion that every parent is an activist. We try to think of every interaction with our kids as a way to build their brains and hearts. When they learn respect, connection and trust in our homes they can move through the world in kind.
We can affect change by raising kids who possess a fierce sense of self and a social responsibility to those less fortunate. This begins with how we interact with our kids, in even the tiniest moments. Do we allow them a dissenting opinion? Do we speak kindly of others? Do we respect their bodies as we care for them? Do we admit when we’ve fucked up?
ONE LESSON FROM LAST YEAR?
Therapy is awesome - go before the shit hits the fan!
ONE DREAM FOR 2019?
A stronger attitude of gratitude.
ONE THING YOU’D LIKE TO TELL ANOTHER POM POM MOM TRYING TO FIGURE IT ALL OUT
The hard stuff is the good stuff. Lean into anything that gives you a stomach ache with the trust that you will get to the other side and be better for it!
Hannah and Kelty are the co-creators and co-hosts of Upbringing, a biweekly podcast and video series that empowers parents to transcend their parenting struggles with awareness, grace and purpose. Upbringing believes that tackling our most uncomfortable experiences is where real growth lies - basically, all the things that make us want to drink wine and hide under the covers. They believe in the notion that as grown ups, “we’re not done yet,” and in the importance of acknowledging that we have as much growing up to do as our kids. When we see parenting as an inside job, we grant ourselves permission to show up and grow up.
WHAT’S YOUR MISSION WITH UPBRINGING?
Upbringing is our attempt to connect with a tribe of parents who value respectful, evidence-based resources and are looking for ways to craft their unique family philosophy. Parents with the courage to dig into the hard stuff, the big picture stuff, the nitty gritty. Parents who can laugh and admit that they (like us) are Works In Progress, raising themselves alongside their tiny humans.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO USE THE FORMAT OF A PODCAST TO SPREAD YOUR UPBRINGING TRUTHS?
Many of us struggle to find time to read a book, get on the phone with a friend, browse a website or attend a class. We love podcasts because you can listen when driving, doing dishes, pushing a stroller or sitting in the dark praying your kid will fall asleep. Pods have kept us company and inspired us to grow through hard times -- a lifeline to other voices that could put words to the feelings and experiences we were having.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVE OTHER PODCASTS?
How I Built This, Armchair Expert, Goop, Where Shall We Begin, On Being, One Part Podcast.
WHO WOULD YOU LOVE TO INVITE AS A FUTURE GUEST ON UPBRINGING?
GRAB A TALL CUP/CLASS/PITCHER OF YOUR FAVORITE BEVERAGE AND TAKE A LISTEN TO ONE OF THE RECENT EPISODES HERE!