Mamá Crush Miercoles: Megan Beaman Jacinto
For my first Mamá Crush Miercoles, I had the honor and the privilege of interviewing my dear friend, Megan Beaman Jacinto. Through this series, it is my hope to change the way we talk about motherhood. I have heard people tsk-tsk at working mothers, claiming that their time would be better spent with their babies. Similarly, I’ve heard critics of stay-at-home mamas tout claims of a lack of independence, of a loss of talent. The reality is that all mothers should be supported and appreciated! Sadly, it is usually mothers who are the most critical of one another.
I got through some really tough times in my pregnancy simply by taking some of these incredible women out for coffee and hearing their stories. Talking to them about how they do it, helped me realize that I can, too.
So, without further do…
On Megan: Megan is a committed and innovative attorney and advocate who has spent the better part of her life fighting for the rights of individuals, communities, and organizations. She formed Beaman Law in 2012. Megan also has a long history of volunteerism and community commitment in partnership with other non-profits and leaders.
Megan comes from a rural working-class family and learned through life experience about some of the many challenges facing workers, families, and communities who are regularly excluded from the legal system. Her parents and family instilled in her not only the values of education, respect, sensitivity, and hard work; but also the ability to recognize unfairness, and the drive to rectify it.
Megan has built an amazing career, is a tremendous community advocate, AND she has the most beautiful family. She is raising her beautiful daughter, Xiomara who is almost 2, alongside her sweet husband. AND they have another one on the way! Here is a little more about her, how she gets through the day, and how she practices self-care…
On a Day in the Life: I wake up a little before Xiomara, usually, and I try to do something. Then she’ll wake up about twenty minutes later. She’ll want to eat breakfast, so we go eat breakfast. I usually try to wash the dishes while she’s eating. Then we go take a bath; I usually take a shower while she takes her bath. I’ve been potty training her, so I put her on the toilet for a while, too. Then we get dressed. Then her Nanny arrives, which I hate using that word, but that’s what she is… Sometimes I stay and work from home for a little bit, or sometimes I just hang out with the two of them. Then I go to the office. I get home around 5:00PM or 6:00PM. She’s usually awake for two or three hours after that.
On Motherhood Philosophies: What I’ve tried to do is do what I do, and try not to let other people bother me. You know, I take what I like from my own upbringing: that we read books all the time, and we played outside all the time. I practice patience. I just try to figure it out as I go. I find value in being close to her emotionally and physically. If I’m feeling bad, or if things seem like they’re going wrong, I remind myself that she’ll be fine, and that so many other people have done it with less resources and less support than I have.
On Family Traditions: We had a big Baptism/First Birthday Party for her, and that was pretty new for me. I know that for other families it’s not. I was happy with it, though it’s not something that I had envisioned doing before having kids. My husband really wanted to celebrate her alongside his family, too. Neither one of us is very religious - it wasn’t about the religious aspect. Though we did want to make sure to lay the foundation in case she decides to practice religion some day - we wanted to make sure to give her that.
On Favorite Motherhood Moments: I’ve been really happy to have her present at all of the community work that I’m doing. It’s less and less possible now, because she’s more and more crazy. But I liked that for her, and for all women, and for myself. It felt like saying “We can do this. AND we can do it with our babies.” She’s going to see this kind of stuff growing up. We also had a cool moment last night where we were getting ready for bed, and she came in with a pile of five books.
On Favorite Books to Read Together: I actually like to try to keep books that I think are stupid out of her collection. I don’t really like cartoon characters. I want her to learn more substantive things when she’s reading. At first, I was thinking of getting all these activism and history books, but I realized they’re not as fun. The fun books, the ones with rhymes and things, still teach her things. I recently started to read to her at bedtime. She has started this new thing where she starts bawling the minute I take her to bed - she was dreading bedtime. So now we bring books with us, and she looks forward to it. The first time I did that, I brought in three books. Now she always wants to read those same three books, in the same order.
On Funny Things Xiomara’s Been Doing Lately: She’ll shout “No!” then move her lips around as though she’s muttering under her breath. She takes after my sister, who they used to call Wild Child.
On Baby Teeth & Letting Go: After a while, I just stopped looking things up - like which teeth are supposed to come out and when. They’re going to come out whether or not I look it up!
On Traveling with Toddlers: Xiomara has always just been unusually good at road trips. When she was much younger, she would never cry, she loved being in her carseat. We just got lucky. Now that she’s older, it takes a lot of activity to keep her entertained. I know that she gets bored; ten-hour-plus drives are not easy on anyone, especially a two-year-old. So Rodrigo drives, and I’m in charge of entertaining her. I bring a whole bag filled with toys and books. Even that doesn’t work sometimes - we have to stop, or try different things to keep her happy. One thing I don’t let her do is let her cry through the car rides, though.
On Being Pregnant a Second Time: I have loved every day of being pregnant--both times. The second pregnancy has definitely been different. I have not had as much time to spend with myself and the new baby, thinking about my pregnancy, thinking about him, and so forth, and I've been a lot more tired. Partly, that's because of all the time spent with Xiomara, and I'm thinking it's partly also due to the fact that it's not as unknown and new as the first time. One thing that surprised me in this pregnancy was my OWN surprise at learning it was a boy. I hadn't thought I had any preconception of who would be in there, but I was so surprised I started crying! I still can't explain it. Another thing that has been different this time is just my personality, or my hormones, or whatever you want to call it. I have been more quiet, sensitive, and sleepy with this baby. With Xiomara I was kind of rebellious and goofier than normal...my partner says it was her wild side showing through me. So maybe the next baby is already telling us who he is too?
On Always Having Fabulous Nails: Manicures and pedicures are my self-care go-to’s. Getting one or the other, or both, has actually been my self-care thing even before I had a baby. If I do it when I know I could be spending time with my family, like after work, I feel guilty about it. So I just go during my lunch-break - I get pampered during the day, so that I can go home and feel good about it.
On Hopes & Visions for the Future: My hope for any of my kids is that they have as many opportunities as possible, and that our role in their lives is that of encouragement. I want our kids to feel like their parents are their support system, but that they also have other types of support, too - through our community. Ultimately I want them to feel that they have all the support that they need to achieve anything they want to. Even though I worry about all the different obstacles that exist that I can't control - because Xiomara is a girl, or because she is Latina, or because she is “mixed” or whatever people want to perceive her as. Being the mother of a little girl has also made me even more feminist, if at all possible; it’s made me even more attentive to injustices against women, but it has also made me more hopeful.
Thank you so much, Megan!