Last summer, Aijia Grammer added motherhood to her already impressive tally of roles as a writer, songwriter, musician and social justice advocate. We chatted with Aijia about her recent appearance in Philips Avent and SoulPancake’s #Mamalogues video – a powerful video that hinges on celebrating the inimitable bond between mom and baby and their special moments that were made possible thanks to mommy instincts.
Check out Aijia in the Philips Avent + SoulPancake #Mamalogue video here.
Congratulations on becoming a new mom! You recently appeared in Philips Avent’s #Mamalogues video with a love letter to your daughter. What’s something you want your daughter to know about your first year of mothering her?
Thank you! It’s been a wild ride.
I want my daughter to know that I did more emotional heavy lifting in this first year of parenting than in all my years on this planet combined. I want her to know that it was so hard, but also the best thing I’ve ever done. That when I felt a little unsteady, I got a therapist and surrounded myself with friends and family. That I pushed through the uncomfortable stuff so she’d be better off.
I want her to know that I loved her hard and with my whole self. That before she came, I was the center of my world, and this year I learned that SHE was the center of my world. That she liberated me.
The #Mamalogues video also focused on mom’s intuition. Can you tell us about a parenting moment when you’ve listened to your instincts?
I make a conscious effort to listen to my instincts daily—it’s something I am really passionate about. Sometimes I see that my daughter gets a little overwhelmed or quiet when we are in a public place, or when a lot of people are interacting with her. So I started bringing my Ergo or my Solly wrap with me and putting her in it beforehand. When I held her close to me as we entered, she felt safer and more assured. After a little while, I’ll take her out and she’s more apt to go with other people and to interact. This, to me, is “mom’s intuition.” It’s taking the temperature of your baby and the room and then adjusting to your baby’s needs.
What is your favorite Philips Avent product?
We used Philips Avent pacifers a ton in the early days, because it really helped calm Louisiana down. She had this insatiable need to suck, even when her belly was full. Soothies were a lifesaver. You could find them in every pocket, every purse, every corner of the house.
Tell us about your work as a teacher and ambassador for Rock ’N’ Roll Camp For Girls. Why is this an important cause for you?
Rock ‘N’ Roll Camp For Girls has my whole heart. It’s a social justice organization that teaches empowerment through music education. This camp teaches skills that young girls and women need to learn— things like how to be kind to other girls, how to be a strong leader, how to explore interests and art forms that are traditionally male-led, and how to be self-assured and brave in the world. We do songwriting workshops, instrument instruction, self-defense, social media literacy and filmmaking—all taught by women. The camp creates a safe space where young girls can see women showing up authentically, being strong and owning their space.
We are trying to create little female bosses, leaders and CEO’s; but most importantly, happy, fulfilled women. I could go on and on. But you should check it out and consider sending us your daughter/niece/cousin/sister. We will pump them full of self-esteem and send them back home to you.
If you could hand off one chore to someone else each day, what would it be?
Doing the dishes. I love eating, and sometimes I even love cooking, but I hate cleaning up.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax and unwind?
I recharge by being alone. My ideal alone time is to make a hot bath of Epsom salts and light a bunch of candles. Next to my bath, I have all my witchy crystals and stones and essential oils. I put on some music like Bon Iver, or a guided meditation on my Insight Timer app and I check out. Oh and I ALWAYS make sure that my phone is on Do Not Disturb. It’s so important to have this time without interruptions.
What is your best parenting hack?
When I need to go outside to my vegetable garden and water everything, I strap my baby into the Ergo carrier and give her the hose. I think holding the hose makes her feel powerful, but she can really only point it straight. So basically I just point her in the right direction and let her water everything. It’s really sweet and has become one of my favorite times of the day.
What is the best white lie that you’ve told your child?
My daughter is only 11 months old, so I haven’t had to tell her too many white lies yet. But I always tell her we are just going in the car for a short ride home, even when we are heading out for a two-hour drive. She hates the car. It’s a weird thing, because I hear some kids love it. Car rides are not fun for us right now.
If you could describe motherhood/fatherhood in one word, what would it be?
What’s one moment in your motherhood journey that has made you proud?
I hesitate to say this because I know it can be trigger for some mothers. But our ability to nurse so well together has made me most proud. There can be a lot of charged energy around women nursing verses bottle-feeding, and it ties into a worthiness thing for a lot of people— I know it did for me. I believe you have to do what works for your individual family. Breast-feeding was something that I dreamed of doing my whole life and I believed that I would make it work, and I did.
We had a lot of speed bumps along the way. I had cracked nipples and blisters and had mastitis four times. We even had to do two long weeks of tube feeding when my daughter randomly went on a breast strike. But we pushed through all of it and kept going. I’ve even been able to donate a bit of milk to friends in need. I’m lucky that my body knew how to do it, and I’m really proud that we found our rhythm.
What is one piece of advice you want to pass along to your children?
Trust your gut. Teaching someone how to trust their inner voice is a big task, but I believe one that ultimately guides someone through their life. It helps you separate right from wrong, kindness from meanness, want from need.
What is one piece of advice you would pass along to other moms?
TRUST YOUR GUT! People are constantly trying to shove parenting information and opinions at you. In the #Mamalogues video, I talked about how I am the only one who really knows what my baby’s needs are. Often when we are visiting with family or people who are eager to see her I’ll say, “I think she’s hungry now. Let me grab her so she can eat.” I’ll sometimes get responses like, ”Oh she seems fine. Let me keep holding her.” This is when I trust my gut, because I know her hunger cues better than other people. I kindly say, “No, she’s hungry now, so I’m taking her to go nurse.”
I know what she needs and I feel very comfortable advocating for her because I trust my gut and I listen to it. It’s something that I really have to practice to be good at, but I would advise new moms and dads to check in with themselves about how things feel before taking on any outside opinions. Everyone’s got something to say, but ultimately, you know what’s best for your kid.
How do you tackle the work/life balance?
This is the golden question, isn’t it? It’s a constant battle to find the balance here. I am fortunate enough to have the best nanny and babysitters around, my mom lives next door, and my husband loves taking my daughter on solo ‘dates’ so I can get some work done. All these people make my work/life balance possible. I try to carve out at least three hours a day for work. Sometimes it’s more, and sometimes it’s less.
I’ll probably work more hours once my daughter is over a year old. I’m a writer and songwriter, so I often leave my daughter with our nanny and run to a coffee shop to write. Even in a noisy coffee shop, my focus is better than at home. At home, I constantly try to micromanage my daughter’s day and what she’s eating, wearing, needing, etc. When I detach and go away, I come back more renewed and filled up. I also think it’s really important for my daughter to understand that I work and that I’m feeding my creative self. I want to model that for her, so she learns that it’s important to do that for herself.
What was the last book you read?
Becoming Supernatural by Joe Dispenza. It’s about the scientific and mystical ways we can change our bodies and minds. It talks a lot about meditation and the brain—it’s fascinating!
Favorite Beauty Product:
DevaCurls hair products
Favorite Form of Exercise:
I have an amazing trainer that I work with when I can carve out the time. She mostly does free weights and ankle weights, mixed with a lot of Capoeira and boxing. If I can’t get in to see her, I hop into a Pop Physique class— a barre class with free weights—which I love.
What is on your DVR?
A Color Story— I use it edit my photos and make them look brighter and more colorful.
Favorite Kids Store:
www.Spearmintlove.com and Zara Baby.