Behind The Scenes
Behind The Scenes With Mara Schiavocampo
“There's a big difference between a mother and a woman who has had a baby. Technically they're the same thing, but emotionally and spiritually they are very different.”
Most people have a daily routine that, in some way, includes watching the news. Morning, afternoon, evening. Local or national. You don’t pick your station because of the actual news – you pick it because of the people. For many, that trusted voice is Mara Schiavocampo.
This media powerhouse speaks four languages, is the recipient of four Emmys, has lived throughout the world, and has covered every major news story in the last ten years. If that wasn’t enough, she just launched her own YouTube channel all around food and beauty. Busy, to say the least. Despite this, it turns out she is one of the most relatable moms out there.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways Mara shared with us.
IT ISN'T ALWAYS LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
When people talk about getting pregnant and ushering your little one into the world, they often talk about the process as if it’s all rainbows and fairy dust. Let’s be real—that is not the case. It’s hard. Making the transition into motherhood isn’t magical—it takes work.
Which is why it was refreshing to hear Mara share that her journey into motherhood didn’t happen overnight. “There’s a big difference between a mother and a woman who has had a baby,” she told us. “Technically they’re the same thing, but emotionally and spiritually they are very different.”
Mara says that, looking back, the thing she remembers most about that first year postpartum was feeling like she had been freed. “I know that I was so happy to have my body back, in the sense that it belonged to me again,” she says. “ I was ecstatic. Over the moon. It felt like being released from prison. That’s what I remember most vividly.”
“When my first child was born, I was a woman who had just had a baby. I wasn’t a mother. I didn’t know how to connect to my child. It was a role I had to learn.” She adds, “It took me getting to know my baby to fall in love with motherhood.”
But it’s not just that initial transition into motherhood that takes work. As mothers, we change with every stage of our children’s lives, and Mara found that first year to be almost magical in its newness. Now, as a mom to school-aged kids, she’s feeling the full weight of motherhood. “It’s a marathon and it’s definitely catching up to me,” she says.
THE LOW POINTS
We always ask mothers to share both the highs and the lows with us. We want stories that really illustrate the reality of parenting. When we asked Mara, she didn’t hesitate to share that the hormones, weight gain, and post-natal side effects really hit her. She says the word that best describes her first year as a mom is CHAOS, which we absolutely relate to. There are so many huge changes that happen all at once, and we’re trying to process and adjust to them while physically and mentally recovering from this intense experience. That adjustment is not always easy, and not always pretty.
“I remember one time standing in my closet, trying on clothes, and they didn’t fit because I was still losing the weight. I started crying,” she shares.
“And when you cry, it triggers your milk. My eyes were closed so I didn’t realize what was happening. When I opened my eyes, I was literally standing in a puddle of breast milk. I had to laugh, because it was the most pathetic thing that had ever happened to me.”
The thing about motherhood is that you can’t predict what it will be like, and that’s a lesson Mara wants to share with other people just starting out on this journey. “I think life is all about expectations. Expect it to be messy. Expect madness,” Mara says. “Surrender to it and ride the wave.” Let go of the ideas you have about what motherhood should be like, and embrace the journey that YOU are on. When we expect perfection, we are almost always left disappointed – in ourselves, in our experience. Motherhood is, in many ways, all about adjusting your expectations.
Hearing Mara say this, we couldn’t help but think of the countless similar stories we’ve heard from readers and friends—not to mention our own experiences in parenthood. It just shows that no matter where you are in life, the rollercoaster of post-natal living affects every mom. We have all been there at some point!
PARENTING IS PARTNERSHIP
It’s no secret that having a baby—or two, or three—changes the relationship between partners. Spouses that are sleep deprived and focused on navigating parenthood can often start focusing on the negatives of each other. We asked Mara what couples can do to overcome this.
“We really look at each other as a team, and that’s been really important. I see this with a lot of other couples, it’s like “Well, I did this, and I did this, and I did this, it’s time for you to do this.”
“For us it’s only been the opposite.” For an example Mara continued, “I’ll say ‘Babe, you’ve washed the dishes three nights in a row, are you okay? Do you need me to step in?’ He’s my teammate, I need him to be strong and happy, too. When it comes to partnering through parenthood, ‘It can’t be me against you,’ you have to be a team, you have to be in it together.”
This can be hard. After a long day at the office, walking through the door after your spouse may have had that day off, and seeing a full sink of dishes can really get the blood pumping, but Mara reminds us that parenthood is partnership. So on days like that, dig deep, take a big breath, and remember that person is on this journey with you.
When it comes to losing weight after baby, Mara literally wrote the book on it. She penned Thinspired, which is all about her weight loss journey. She lost 90 pounds after the birth of her baby!
Having a baby for Mara was really transformative, because one of her biggest pregnancy fears was that she was going to gain a lot of weight. “I was already overweight and I was terrified that I would get stuck with my post-baby weight, she said.
“…And the opposite happened. I remind myself of that when I’m afraid of something. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. Everything could go ten times better than you’re expecting, so you just have to confront your fear and face it. It was a pleasant surprise.”
With work taking her around the world, we wanted to know how Mara balanced the high demands of her work and the full-time job of being a mom. Her suggestion? Be unapologetic. When there is something that needs to be done in one place or another- do what you need to do. Just as your work expects you to do your job, your kids expect you to be their parent.
Mara is all about communication. It’s important to her to say things like, “‘I have to leave early today because it’s Halloween, it’s the only holiday they care about.’ Or, ‘I can’t come in on time this day because it’s my son’s first day of school ever, and I have to be there.’” But Mara also does the same with her kids, “‘I have to leave and go do this because mommy has to travel for a living. I’ll be back on this day, I’ll bring you back a treat.’”
Mara says communicating clearly and letting go of the guilt are the keys to her success. Letting go of the guilt of focusing on work is important. Your children will let you know if you aren’t present enough.
“My son always does this—and he’s three which I think is so funny—when I’m on my phone and I’m not paying attention to him, he will come up to me, he will grab my face, and he will turn it to him. That is a very clear message: Mommy, I need you to pay attention to me.”
Sitting down and having this no holds barred conversation with Mara gave us SO many pointers like being a true partner in parenting to remembering to explain things to our kids (and not just tell them what not to do). With her straightforward candidness, we feel empowered by Mara’s tips. Those low points? They’ll come and go. In the meantime, Mama – drop that guilt, make time for self care, and don’t be afraid to communicate.