Featured Mom: Janelle Brandon, Writer, Doula, and Unschooling Mom

This week’s Featured Mom might open some eyes! Janelle, who blogs at http://janellebrandon.com, is not only totally open about her life experiences but is also out there sharing her perspective directly to help moms (and others) who’d like to walk a similar path. As doula, she’s making the world a better place for expecting, birthing, and new moms. As an advocate of unschooling, she’s making the world a better place for her kids. And as an unapologetic truth-teller, we like to think she’s making the world a better place for moms who might be wondering “Am I alone in this?” Her message? No, you’re not! Here’s the Q&A we were lucky enough to do with this awesome mom:

We found you because you wrote a fantastic article about how finding a
best friend isn’t exactly easy when you’re a grownup – and a mom.
What’s your experience trying to find *mom friends* in particular been
like?

In a word: scary! I find myself shielding myself from potential mom
friends because of the time and emotional commitment it might require.
When I do encounter a live one, I find myself picking her apart for
potential problems and I’m constantly looking for signs of
incompatibility. Sad, right?

You wrote application criteria for an ‘Amy Poehler-like best friend’ -
is there anything you’d add to that list when accepting applications
for a best mom friend?

Not add but I’d like to highlight the honesty part. If my kid does
something to your kid you don’t like, tell me. If I hurt your feelings,
tell me. Et cetera. It’s just so time consuming to go back and fix
mountainous problems in relationships than it is to work on them in
the moment!

Janelle Brandon - Mom Meet Mom

You’re a doula, which is awesome! For our readers who might not know
what that is, could you give a brief rundown of what a doula does and
why you’re so awesome?

I’m basically a birth best friend. I’ll help mom and her partner
devise their birth plan, point them to resources prenatally and
discuss any fears or problems that might block the mother from having
a good birth outcome. I’m also there continuously throughout labor and
delivery and in the early postpartum period helping the family
transition to this miraculous new phase of life with fewer bumps! It’s
fun to witness as families cross over the threshold into parenthood. I
get a major birth high and that’s why I keep going back for more! I’m
done having babies so sniffing brand new Earthlings is pretty
fantastic. So much hope in those little souls. I’m awesome because I’m
there helping at the birth. Sometimes to be awesome, you just have to
be present!

I’ve actually read your pregnancy and birth story – did those
experiences, which you discuss in frank detail, inspire you to become
a doula?

Absolutely. My husband and I never would have had the birth outcome we
had with both our children without our doula. It’s good to have a lot
of confidence and good vibes surrounding your birth and a good doula
provides that continuously.

Why should expecting moms look into birthing with a doula?

Because you can’t ever have a do-over with your child’s birth. It’s
best to plan for the best birth and a doula will help every step of
the way. Birth is messy, non-linear, emotional, and physical. And a
whole lot of love. Every woman deserves a shot at that. A doula is in
her corner safeguarding that outcome.

Speaking of frank detail, your blog is definitely no-holds-barred when
it comes to, well, everything. (Squatty potty? Whoa!) Why have you
decided to reveal what most people keep on the DL?

Yes, I like to verbalize what others have, I’m sure, experienced but
are embarrassed to talk about. I think that’s the only way to tear
down this unrealistic wall of motherhood that we all have built around
ourselves to a certain extent. I like to dig in and talk about the, I
guess literally, crappy side of motherhood among other subjects. I
think we can’t bond with each other’s common experiences until we let
down our guard, share our fears and go to that uncomfortable place. So
I lead women down that path of self-examination with my writing.

Janelle Brandon - Mom Meet MomYou’re unschooling, which is very cool but definitely an unusual choice. Tell us a little bit about unschooling and why it’s the right choice for your fam?

Unschooling just means that the parents act as facilitators instead of
having a traditional teacher/student relationship. We offer our
children a variety of experiences on a variety of subjects and when
they gravitate to an particular interest area, we focus more on that
than dividing all the learning subjects up equally. With that being
said, our first grader loves workbooks and so we make sure he has
worksheets on hand and we’re available to answer his questions when
they arise. He’s recently stated that he wants to be a chemist that
studies food so we make sure he has a chance to do inedible and edible
experiments in the kitchen.

We are a la carte parents and this has trickled into our approach to
education. Once we knew that each of our children have the capacity to
learn and didn’t have any developmental or learning disabilities, we
knew the world was their oyster. We do have certain areas that we have
to report to the school district and they’ll have to go through
standardized testing but we aren’t concerned about that as our kids
tend to be performing at or above the level of their peers thus far.

Unschooling gives us the opportunity to always be learning and loving
it. Learning takes place in the community, in the home, in our peer
groups and in inter-mixed age categories. Unschooling allows us to
break down those barriers and have an authentic experience alongside
our children. We feel very fortunate that this is an option
economically for our family. Unschooling echos our values. We know
it’s not right for everyone but it’s going great for us!

And finally, what’s your mom super power?

Being honest with my children. Sharing my faults and taking
responsibility for my behavior. Telling them when I feel scared, or
when I was once bullied. Being an open book for them let’s them know
their mother isn’t perfect and I don’t expect perfection from them
either. My superpower is being perfectly and proudly imperfect.

Want to be a part of our Featured Mom series? Email christa at mommeetmom.com to find out how!

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