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Episode 104: Honest Motherhood: What We Really Need with Libby Ward from Diary of an Honest Mom

April 26, 2023

104 (3)

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Jacqueline Kincer  0:10  

Welcome back to the Breastfeeding Talk podcast. I’m your host, Jacqueline Kincer. And today’s episode is already I think, my favorite episode. And I know I’ve probably said that about episodes in the past, but you know, New episodes come along. And those are great, too. But this one, oh my gosh, I don’t know what to even say about it other than you should just listen to it and share it far and wide. Because I have Libby Ward from Diary of an Honest Mom, you’ve probably seen her content online if the algorithm has got you pegged for being a mom. She’s great. She’s truly great if you’re not following her. I mean, she did not ask me to say this, but I would go and follow her because she’s just that amazing. And you’ll see why when you listen to this show. 


Jacqueline Kincer  1:28  

So if you don’t know who Diary of an Honest Mom is, or even the name of the person behind it, it’s Libby Ward, and she is every week bringing content that reaches millions of women around the world. She has grown to dedicate a community of over 1.5 million on social media in just two years, and she’s been recognized as a mental health advocate by Tik Tok. She’s been featured by the BBC, Good Morning America, the Tamron Hall Show, CH CH global news, motherly insider and media outlets around the world. She’s a thought leader in today’s difficult and complex experiences of mental health. And Libby is focused on reaching more women with her perspective changing stories through partnerships and collaborations that make a real impact. Her best selling guided Journal, the honest mom Journal, the struggling moms guide to struggling less has already helped 1000s of moms to struggle less in motherhood. So you can find her at diary of an honest mom on Instagram, Tik Tok, and her website diary of an honest and fall in love with her authentic content, sure to inspire and entertain you each day, just like I have. She is just so real. She is the mom friend that we all need in our lives. And what’s really cool about Libby is I feel like just she’s so relatable, right? She’s saying a lot of the things that so many of us have thought internally that so many of us have said to a close confidant that so many of us have felt but never been able to put words to. 


Jacqueline Kincer  3:04  

And her episode I think is really special because it so aligns with the messaging that I’ve really been trying to create and put out there, which is that everyone is different. And there are few things that are worth doing in life that are easy. And, you know, we just have to recognize those things. So Libby says it all I don’t even want to wait any longer to introduce you to her. So here’s my incredible interview with diary of an honest mom. Well, welcome to the show. I have Libby here, who you might not recognize by her name, but you will recognize this name diary of an honest mom. And I’m super excited to have her here because I have just seen her posts for a long time in my personal feed, the business feed and I just think her messaging her everything she shares is so refreshing. And I want to amplify those types of conversations. So if you don’t know, direct and honest mom is a wonderful account that Libby runs and she’s this digital creator speaker and mental health advocate with a deep commitment to breaking cycles of trauma and changing the motherhood narrative with honest motherhood. So I know I just said a little bit more about her before I brought her on. But welcome Livia. I’m excited to have you here today.


Libby Ward  4:28  

Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to jump into all the fun things that I’d love to talk about.


Jacqueline Kincer  4:34  

Yes. Oh my gosh, I know you’ve created this amazing life where you get to talk about the realities of life. And what better way to do that other than chatting up to you today. And yeah, I’d really love to hear your story. Like how how did you come up with this? How did you get started with diary of an honest mom and you know, we all start somewhere when we begin something new right? So I’d love for you to tell us a little bit more about that.


Libby Ward  5:02  

Yeah, sure. So I worked in education for 10 years, I worked with children with special needs. And I was on track to become a teacher. And then the pandemic happened. And so I found myself at home homeschooling my two children, virtual schooling, I guess, and working towards my university degree and lonely and isolated and frustrated, like we all were during the pandemic. And I thought, Well, I’m just gonna download Tiktok because I heard some kids talk about it at the school. I was working at a few weeks before and they were like, Hey, you should go on tick tock, and I was like, What’s tic tock, and they were like, Oh, it’s this app where you do dances now, like, you shouldn’t go on there. It’s dangerous, like the internet, there’s bad people on the internet, that you shouldn’t go on that. And so there wasn’t a pandemic. I’m like, I can see what this tick tock is all about. And so I downloaded it. And long story short, I fell in love with it immediately. I loved that people were talking about real things and having honest raw conversations. And I could relate to the moms that I saw on there and the imperfection that they had in their lives and the struggles that they had. And for the first time, social media became a place where I felt connected and seen and not shamed and judged. And so that is sort of how I fell in love with Tik Tok. And I started making videos simply to use my creative juices and to connect with other people. I’ve never heard of a content creator, I’ve never heard of an influencer, I didn’t follow them. I just thought these videos are fun to make. And I love connecting with other people. And so it has been three years now. And it’s evolved since then, of course, I started off as Diary of a weird mom, a little known fact, because I made funny videos, mostly to begin with, I still make some funny videos. But it really morphed. And my name changed to diary of an honest mom, because I realized that whether I was making people laugh or cry, it was because I was being honest about motherhood and talking about things that nobody else was talking about. And I saw that doing that not only helped women to feel validated that what they were going through was normal, or abnormal or common, or that they weren’t alone. And I saw that it connected us to one another, and empowered other women to really make changes in their lives and reprioritize their time and be able to focus on themselves. And I really started to see the value in being honest about motherhood, outside of just laughing or crying, but actually really being connected, which is what we need so much more in motherhood. And, you know, I could go on and on about how everything grew. But I now have a lot of people watching on a lot of different platforms. And I love being able to connect on online with, you know, moms from all over the world about the experiences we have in motherhood.


Jacqueline Kincer  7:51  

Oh, I love that. You know, it’s really funny because I was following you when you were Diary of a Weird Mom. And I don’t remember. Yeah. And I remember like, trying to, I don’t know, if I maybe switched platforms, or I wasn’t logged into one of my accounts or something. And we’re trying to find that. And then I found Diary of an Honest Mom, like, you know, a while later and I was like, oh, no, that’s not who I’m looking for. And then I’m, like, I didn’t realize it was who I was looking for. You just changed the name. So anyway, that’s so funny. Because yeah, I also had a friend go, oh, you should download Tiktok during the pandemic. And I never really got to create much content on there. It wasn’t my, my jam at the time. But yeah, that’s so funny. And what you said about, you know, this, this honesty, right, and connection, that’s so important. And, you know, I think that’s the piece that I wish more moms had before they became moms, because there’s this, you know, sort of grand idea of what it’s going to be like to be pregnant and have the baby and be a mom and do all of these things. And we’ve got this sort of Pinterest it, you know, vision in our head of how it’s all gonna go. And that’s really not the reality. And for so many people that becomes, you know, a really difficult thing to grasp and to cope with. And so, you know, I’m curious, really, you know, you speak so much about your personal experiences, but, you know, what has the transition to motherhood been like for you? Obviously, the pandemic made it, you know, there’s an amplification of whatever you might have had going on. But, you know, early on, did you have breastfeeding struggles? What was your postpartum like, early on? I’d love for you to share that with us, too.


Libby Ward  9:42  

So I’ve been a mom now for almost nine years, which is insane to think about because I still feel like they’re so tiny and they’re not. But when I became a mom, I had all the best intentions to do everything right. I researched all of the things As I read the books, I asked a lot of questions, I was really intentional about how I wanted to parent and what I wanted to do. And that was everything from my birth experience to breastfeeding to how I wanted to raise my kids, I didn’t grow up in a way that I want to repeat. And so I put a lot of energy into the type of mom that I wanted to be. And how that manifested was really a lot of perfectionism. And aspiring to be like all the other moms around me, but the best of all of them. So I looked at all the moms around me and on social media, and tried to do what everyone was doing really well. And at the time, I had the capacity to do a lot of it, you know, with one baby, you know, my birth went relatively straightforward. And breastfeeding was hard to begin with, like really hard to get her to latch and to, you know, go through all the pain of adjusting to all the things, but eventually, it worked. And so, for me, breastfeeding, turned out to be one of the most beautiful parts of my first my relationship with my first child, and we breastfed for, I think, 15 months. And it helped me to feel connected to her. And it helped me to feel empowered. And I felt like I was able to do what I was supposed to do as a mom. And it’s not that I thought breastfeeding was better than bottle feeding. But there was the sense of I can do this, and I’m doing it and I’m providing for her. And it’s amazing. And I really did enjoy it. And it helped me to calm her and to put her to sleep and all of those amazing things. And outside of that I did a lot of the things I planned on doing as a new mom, you know, I limited her sugar intake, and we didn’t watch screens, I had all the standards that I set really high. And I could pretty much achieve them. And it’s not that it wasn’t hard, it was hard. But I had the capacity to do the hard things that I wanted to do. And then when she turned one, I thought I you know, I think I could do that again. So a few months later, we got pregnant with my second, we were very lucky in that aspect. And then he was born three days before my daughter’s second birthday. And it was awful. From the beginning, like it was so hard. And the contrast between the two of them, their temperament, their needs. Everything from just how they operated as babies was completely different. And I had heard that babies aren’t all the same, of course, but I thought, well, I’m still the same parent, we have the same lifestyle, I eat the same foods, my breast milk is going to be the same, we have pretty much all the same things. Of course, I was nervous about it being hard with having two kids instead of one. But I expected they would pretty much function in a similar manner. And that wasn’t the case, my son struggled to breastfeed. And when I say struggled, I mean it caused him pain. So it not only caused me pain, but he wouldn’t latch. And then when he did, he would break off a few seconds later crying. And I could only get him to stay on for a few minutes at a time. He never seemed like he got enough. But then he would start pushing, you know, like not wanting it at all, but I could tell he was hungry. And then. So he never really got as much as he needed. And when I went to see doctors or a pediatrician or lactation consultants, you know, over the next six months, I was really brushed off by a lot of health care professionals. And it sent me into a deep, dark postpartum pit. And the feeding, I think was at the core of all of it. I mean, there was my perfectionist standards that I then couldn’t meet and all the other aspects of my parenting like what I cooked and how I clean and what I did with my kids where I didn’t have the capacity to do it. And that made me feel like garbage as a mom, but not being able to feed my child and feeling helpless and useless. And not being able to do the main thing you’re supposed to do in those first few months made me just spiral. And so after a few months, no, it wasn’t until it was after a few weeks I started pumping, because I thought well maybe it’s just the breastfeeding part that’s hard. But then he didn’t want to take a bottle. And then after three months of pumping, I finally gave it up and said we’ll try formula. And it turned out he didn’t like formula either. So it just it was something else that was going on with him that nobody figured out till when he was three he was diagnosed with a motor speech condition, which affects the brain pathways between your brain and your tongue and your mouth and all the different your throat all the parts that you need to talk which they say is also connected to being able to suck properly. And but we didn’t know that you know, so for an entire year and a half between breastfeeding and bottle feeding. He cried most times he ate And then he didn’t sleep for more than a couple hours at a time, I think because he wasn’t nourished enough. And I felt like I was just an awful mom. And no matter who I asked, or the different things I tried, it didn’t work and people brushed me off and, and then I was so tired and sleep deprived that even thinking of the next solution was hard, because I wasn’t even, I couldn’t even think straight. So when people would say, well, when’s the last time you talk to the last lactation consultant, I couldn’t remember if it was last week or six weeks ago, and I couldn’t even you know, really take care of myself that well. And then, of course, everything came crashing in the guilt over giving more attention to him than my two year old, the grief that I felt over not being able to enjoy either of them, because I was so tired, not feeling like I could, you know, feed him. And it was really, really hard. And then I had to, you know, grieve that I wasn’t able to breastfeed him. And because I had a good experience with my firstborn, it made me realize, and made me just sad that I couldn’t do it with him. And it also made me realize how much worse I had internally tied to what I was able to do with my first even if I wouldn’t, I couldn’t have said, I feel good about myself. Because I could breastfeed, there was a sense of pride that I got from it. And so not being able to feed my baby made me feel just awful. Like I was not good enough as a mom. And so it took a really hard time to come out of all of those really complicated feelings and the postpartum depression that I believe all of that triggered. So I have a complicated relationship with feeding, breastfeeding, all that kind of stuff. And I have a whole lot of grace for women, for mothers who have struggled to breastfeed to feed in general, who feel the pressure to do things one way or the other, who feel judged. At the end of the day, my son of them being breast, or bottle fed for a whole year. He’s fine. He’s good. He’s healthy, he’s happy, he’s loved. He’s smart. Everyone’s fine. But I wasn’t fine for a long time. And I realized that I needed to take care of myself and become okay. And myself. Before anything else could be taken care of.


Jacqueline Kincer  17:20  

Oh, my gosh, I just got chills. Because yeah, right. Do you do you think you found yourself? Like creating some self blame, like thinking that there was something that you weren’t doing right, during that time with your son?


Libby Ward  17:39  

Yeah, I mean, I felt like I was trying everything. And that nothing seemed to work. And I simultaneously felt crazy, because every time I would bring him to someone, or ask a professional for help, they would invalidate it and say, Oh, well, lots of babies are fussy, and he seems to be growing well, and, you know, all of that. And meanwhile, I would have an anxiety attack every time it was time to feed him, because I knew that he was going to end up crying and that I was going to end up crying, and then I wouldn’t feel like I’d be able to feed him like it was. I was honestly traumatic, like, now that I’m talking about it, it’s making me feel emotional, because it was so traumatic, and made me feel so worthless. And so on one hand, I was angry at everyone else for not being able to help me. And then I was angry at myself for not being able to figure it out. So yeah, it created a lot of different and complicated feelings in me, towards other people and towards myself.


Jacqueline Kincer  18:40  

Yeah, you know, I have to say, I see this a lot in the work that I do. You know, especially one on one with moms. And I think the hardest part for me is, you know, that I could be that one lone voice that validates that mom, but then I can’t be the one that solves every problem for her, like you said, your son had a particular issue, right? And so I’m relying on you know, this other doctor, seeing what I see. And when they invalidate, and that mom is like, Well, who do I listen to me, you know, and all of those internal struggles, like you’re talking about? And you know, I have to kind of protect my mental health and go, Why can’t I can’t want this and fight harder than this family wants it, you know, because I can’t make them agree with me or listen to me, I can’t make this doctor agree or listen to me. And it’s a real problem. You know, it’s it’s a real real problem, because I guess what I’m trying to say is that even if you do find one person out of many that does validate you, that may not be enough, though, right? So it’s, it’s hard. And I love that you’re talking about it with us because I know that that is, you know, really difficult time to think about but I think it’s why what you have to say is something that so many moms listen to Do you know, this honesty that you’re sharing? So you’ve obviously since moved on? And your kids are a bit older? And you know, like you said, it feels like, you know, they’re not that old. It’s crazy, right? So the pandemic has happened all of these things. Like, I just, I don’t know, I guess what are what are some of these things that you found? You know, you’ve struggled with the postpartum depression and the trauma of all of those things? How did you start to come out of that? Or how did you realize what was going on? And try to do more to, you know, take care of yourself?


Libby Ward  20:37  

Yeah, I don’t think it was one specific moment or day or big shift that changed. And I get this question a lot, where it’s kind of like people saying, what’s the thing that changed everything for you. And what I feel is that, that would be me giving the impression that everything was bad. And now everything is good, which is so far from the truth. And it’s a whole lot of a couple of steps forward, and one step back, and a couple steps forward, and a couple of steps back. And this constant figuring out of life, and of motherhood and of new challenges that come. You know, for me, in the first few years, my biggest struggle was getting my basic needs met me getting to sleep for more than two hours at a time, things like that, you know, when I finally saw a doctor, when I realized I had postpartum depression, after six or seven months, with my second born, I went to a therapist. And so that was like this tiny little baby step that wasn’t changing my every day. But it helped to shift some mindsets. And then I started to prioritize being more active. And that helped me to get out of the house. And those little things happened. And so I was moving my body, I started to see other people. So I wasn’t just locked in the house, staring at the same four walls every day, feeling like I couldn’t do the things I was supposed to do as a mom. And so it was all these little changes that I made that started benefiting generally my mental health overall, and giving me the capacity to do more learning and reading and connecting with other people. So it’s really hard to pinpoint the journey, because I always say to people, you can’t execute on any of the things that you want to do if you don’t have the capacity to do it. And what I mean by that is, we have all these parenting books, you know, and we have specialists, and we’re on social media, seeing all this information and people giving tips on how to change your life, or to parent your child in this way, or do all these things. But if you haven’t slept, and you’re not eating properly, and you haven’t been out of the house in days, and you can’t see past the next five minutes, you can’t take in any of that information, you can’t take that advice, you can’t execute on that advice, you don’t even have the energy to track things in your calendar, like you can’t do any of that. So for me, it really started at that foundational getting my basic needs met. And then and then it began bringing in more things and pushing harder at the doctor’s to get my son help and connecting with other mothers and seeing what they were going through. And you know, something I really struggled with a lot was comparison. And so I would look at my best friend or other people I knew. And I would see the things they’re able to do with their kids or how clean their houses were or what they were able to buy or where they took their kids. And I spent a long time thinking I needed to do that or be like them in order to be a good mom. And I didn’t take into consideration the fact that they had different lives. Their kids didn’t have as high of needs as my kids did. They had a wider support network, they had a larger income, they had all these different things that could help them be a certain type of mom or do certain things. And it wasn’t until I started building this awareness. And this is what I think of as honest motherhood is being honest with myself about what my circumstances were, and what roadblocks I was facing and what supports I had and what was actually in front of me. What’s my health and mental health? What are my kids like? What does my day to day look like? That I finally realized I had to change my expectations of myself. I had to set boundaries, I had to say no to things. I had to let go of, say my rules on screen time, I had to do things differently. And only then was I able to start to feel good about myself as a mom. Because rather than keeping the bar so high every single day and feeling bad about not reaching the bar, I realized the bar never should have been that high. And then when I lowered the bar and I could reach it, I started to feel better about myself as a mom. And when I felt better about myself as a mom, I could show it better for my kids. It was this whole domino effect. And so it started with meeting my basic needs and it really just grew to allow me to learn about myself and learn about others and be really honest with myself about what I should expect of myself, and what kind of mom I actually wanted to be remembered by.


Jacqueline Kincer  25:06  

So, yeah, wow. Yeah. Yeah, I think I think that’s a big step to take, though. Like you said, it’s not something that happens in a moment. But to make that decision and even lower the bar, like we, we can sometimes become really attached to that, and convinced ourselves that if I just finally meet the bar, then I’ll be happy with myself, then I’ll be proud, then I will feel like I’ve accomplished something. But never looking at moving the PAR, like, you’re just such, it’s a goose chase that you’re just never going to win. Right. So and, you know, and, and what you’re saying and what you share, like, I’m, you know, unfortunately, the Internet can be like a cesspool of comments, right? I’m sure you’ve gotten your fair share over the years. And I feel like, you know, whenever somebody shares a message, like what you’re saying, that’s, that’s vulnerable, and real and honest, there’s this, like, black or white mentality that comes into play from certain people that have this reaction, and there’s numerous reasons for it. Right? But well, if it’s so bad, then why did you become a mom anyway? Like, you know, like, just are your kids are gonna see this one day? And, you know, like, be offended, right? You know, like that kind of? What do you say the people that have those reactions of, you know, just like, it’s, I don’t know, yeah, just that that kind of absolutism, like, you either have to love motherhood, or you hate it. And, you know, just, you know, pull it, pull yourself up by your bootstraps and deal with it, right? Like, that’s so much a message that’s out there still.


Libby Ward  26:48  

Well, the people who are out there in the world and validating other people do so because they are not healthy. And they have been invalidated. And they are people who have been fed those same messages. And they haven’t done the work to grow their emotional intelligence, or their connection to other people in the world, or to broaden their mind enough to imagine that somebody else could be living a completely different reality to them, and that maybe that message isn’t for them. And so, you know, when I first started getting comments like that, it would really bugged me. And I would think, how dare you, you know, you don’t know me, and I would be defensive. And you know, occasionally, it’s still like, gets me but I just remind myself that it is a reflection of them. If you are someone whether you’re a mother in law, a troll on the internet, a random mom at the park, some random businessman who has nothing, have no idea what motherhood is like, like if you are out there making comments on other people’s lives and why they’re making certain decisions and why they’re sharing certain stories. And you can’t imagine how they would get to that point. And your first thought is to judge them or invalidate them, that’s a reflection on you, and not a reflection on me. So I don’t need to take that to heart, you’re not someone I would come to, for an opinion, you’re not someone that I come to for advice. Like what what you have to say really is of no substance to me. And so like if I think about videos that I make about feeding your kids chicken nuggets, instead of making a home cooked meal, and a negative comment I would get about that from someone’s I raised six kids, and they all turned out fine. And I never fed them chicken fingers and everything was just fine for me. Like that’s great. I’m, I’m happy for you. That’s not my reality. And you know what I would rather feed my kids chicken fingers, then try and cook them a home cooked meal and be so overstimulated that I scream in their face, that I need them to leave me alone. I would rather that process foods just soak right into their bones, and their mess inside and then just be filled with that processed food that day. Because I would rather them be filled with that processed food that day, then be filled with the trauma of a mother who makes them feel like they don’t belong and that they aren’t loved. And so I had to come to a point when I realized that my relationship with my kids and their emotional health and well being was the main priority. Does that mean I completely ignore my kids nutritional needs and their health? No, it doesn’t. And like you said, that’s black and white thinking to say I fed chick my kids chicken nuggets doesn’t mean that I never think about their health, their well being and I don’t feed them vegetables. It just means that in this moment, I’m choosing to feed them chicken nuggets. But there’s a lot of people that forget that the 15 second video you see online is not a reflection of their entire day. And that maybe I made that video to encourage a mom who’s struggling desperately and needs permission from someone to just let go of her standards that day. I know that the mom who needs it knows that. And if someone else is making a comment then the video wasn’t for them. And I think that change happens When we get brave enough, and we get confident enough in our own worth and our own message and who it’s directed at, that the noise we hear from other people, doesn’t matter. Because change happens when you say things that go against the status quo. That’s how any change in the entire world has never happened is somebody being brave enough to say it. And so, for me, I like to try and be brave enough to say the things that moms need to hear that help them to be the moms they want to be. And if someone thinks that me making chicken nuggets for my kid means that that’s all they’ve ever eaten, then. That’s their problem. Not really mine. Whoa, yeah, it’s


Jacqueline Kincer  30:40  

Oh, my gosh, yes. Right. And likewise, like, you know, it’s just, it goes always, you know, I think maybe you, you know, went to the farmers market, or grow your own food, and you cooked a beautiful dinner, and you’re so proud of it, and you wanted to show it off? Shouldn’t you be allowed to celebrate that and share that with people? Do you do that every night? No. I mean, I don’t I don’t know anybody that does that every night? And if they do, I mean, well, okay, that’s amazing, right? Good for you. Like, why do we have to poop on everybody else’s success?


Libby Ward  31:19  

Right? Well, and it’s not even. It’s this whole idea for me again, of honesty and self awareness. I know that for me, with the job, I work, the job my husband works and the type of kids I have in place, I live in what I have access to, I can only cook X numbers of healthy dinners a night, maybe my finances play into it, maybe our health plays into it, all these different things. And so when I have an awareness of that, then I can be confident and saying, You know what, I think that cooking three from scratch dinners a week is fantastic. If Brenda four states over can cook healthy meals seven nights a week, good for her, I don’t know if she has two grandparents who live down the road, or exponentially more money than I do, or kids with lower needs, or less trauma to deal with and therapy to go to and more time in the day because of something like I literally don’t know. So rather than spiraling and thinking, Well, why can she do that, and I can’t, the reality is, we don’t have the full picture of anybody else’s life, which is why comparison doesn’t work, right. But you have the full look at our own life. And when we take the time to look at our life and make our decisions about our lives confidently and be like this is where my bar is at, you don’t get to tell me where my bar should be. Because you’re not living my life. You are not doing the things I’m doing everyday dealing with, with what I’m dealing with everyday. So you don’t get to tell me where my bar should go, you can have your own bar. And maybe my bar for dinner is lower, but maybe my bar for my kids emotional wellbeing is higher. And that doesn’t mean that I’m right and you’re wrong. That just means that I am my own person, my own. I am a mother who gets to decide for myself what I’m going to do. But I know for me, the times that I struggled with comparison, the most or the time that I was harsher on other mothers the most is when I didn’t have that grounded confidence in my own circumstances and my own choices. Because when we’re unsure and when we don’t have that confidence, and when we judge ourselves and judge others, we’re so much easier swayed. I don’t know if that makes sense. But it’s this this whole I just I know that my choices are good for me. And I don’t need you to validate that they are because you don’t know my life like I do. Yeah.


Jacqueline Kincer  33:36  

Making choices for you and not for other people. Yeah. Yeah. And and you mentioned your husband. So, you know, I, I would love for you to chat about you’ve gone are going on this journey of honest motherhood. How does that intersect with your husband and his journey as a parent? Has there been a shift for him too? Has there been a shift in your relationship? Because I feel like sometimes, you know, we we hear a lot of this stuff. And we’re like, Yeah, awesome. I want to do that for me, and I matter and whatever. But then you may have a partner, you know, that you’re in this with and you’re like, Well, wait, how do I incorporate them in this? So I’m sure there’s a lot of people that would love to hear, you know how that’s gone for you guys.


Libby Ward  34:31  

Yeah, I mean, that’s a loaded question and really


Jacqueline Kincer  34:34  

hard. I’m not trying to make it I’m sorry. No, that’s okay.


Libby Ward  34:37  

I’m just thinking do I talk about the mental load? Do I talk about us how we parent do I? There’s so many different pieces to that, I guess. You know, I try to focused my version of honest motherhood and self awareness and growth on myself and my own actions and reactions, and that absolutely has an impact on Our marriage on our relationship, how we parent all those things. And I’ve had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Because you know, when you get married, or when you’re with someone for a long time, and you have kids or things, it’s just become the status quo, right? It’s just the status quo that I am in charge of grocery shopping and meal planning, or it’s the status quo, that I am the one to tuck them in every night. That isn’t true. He talks them in half the time. But there’s different things that we fall into these patterns in our relationships. And so let’s say you have this moment of revelation of, you know, I deserve to have me time too. And, you know, he goes to golf, every Saturday, I should find the thing for me, or that I have more self worth. So I’m going to be confident saying I don’t want to do something, instead of just people pleasing, I’m going to do it. You have to get comfortable with knowing that that’s going to make them go, what, and maybe worse, right? You know, we’re all in these different partnerships. But I, you know, for me, as a people pleaser, and a perfectionist, and someone who just wants everybody else to be happy, I spent a lot of time just going along with things. And you know, my husband’s been always been active in our home and active parent, all those things. But, you know, when given the opportunity to make a choice, I would just naturally make choices that I thought he would like to because I just wanted to, like, keep everyone happy and valued everyone else’s happiness more than I valued my own, I thought I’d rather everyone else be in a good mood, and swallow my own frustration, then say, No, I’d rather not do that. And so when I started having more boundaries, or saying I don’t want to go to that thing, of course, there was this time of, well, why and so that I had to go on my own journey of accepting that see my own worth, and accepting that valuing myself and my time was going to cause conflict. And not to say that conflict has to be, you know, arguments and things. But it means that you’re sort of like changing things a little bit. And that takes communication and working through and it doesn’t happen overnight. And that finally deciding to not martyr yourself. And by martyr yourself, I mean, put everybody else’s needs above your own all of the time, no matter what, by finally choosing yourself, it’s going to mean that you have to have hard conversations, or you have to be comfortable with other people not being happy. Obviously, that’s not to say that you should accept abuse, because I don’t know who listens to this podcast, but there’s a lot of different scenarios you could be in. But you know, for me, it’s the littlest thing of my husband breathing deeply after telling him that I’m gonna go out that night and he’s on bedtime duty. He’s not angry at me. He’s dealing with his own emotions of like, that’s a disappointment. But I am such a people pleaser that that would like get me to my core of like, oh, my gosh, I’ve made him unhappy. And I had to get comfortable with you know what I disappointed at him, I disappointed him. And that’s okay. It’s okay, that he’s disappointed. That’s a normal feeling to have, and I don’t need to change what I’m doing or change my actions, just because he doesn’t like something. And so again, that came back to me and being okay. With not always being a people pleaser, and disappointing other people. Hmm.


Jacqueline Kincer  38:20  

Yeah. No, I think that’s so important, right? Because, I mean, well, depends on kind of how you’ve been going about parenting and what age your children are, right? But we’re not trying to shield our children, hopefully, from every negative emotion they have, like we have an understanding there, right, that, that they will not be happy that we’ve told them it’s bedtime now. But it’s still bedtime. Right? So like, why are we not doing that with other people in our lives? Which I think is interesting. Or maybe something you could speak to too, because, you know, it sounds like the way you described you went through this as we we we can put ourselves on the backburner in these initial early phases of motherhood, right? Like, yeah, the baby does need to eat every one to three hours. And so yeah, we’ve got to, you know, make sure that baby is fed, we will not be getting much sleep in those early days. It’s like getting a puppy. Like, it has to go to the bathroom and be let out. It’s going to wine, it’s you know, there’s, there’s certain things, it’s temporary, hopefully, right, unless you got something else going on, like you did. And so, you know, we can we can do that. But how do we move away from that habit? Right? Like, we don’t want to continue that pattern, and always be neglecting ourselves. So I love just, or I think there might be guilt associated with it too. Right? Like, you can be, you know, a newborn, it’s, it’s every need is is has to be met by somebody else as they move into toddlerhood and, you know, those older years. That’s not necessarily true. I think that’s a hard transition for people to make. That’s not really in the parenting books, right? That’s not in the cloud. asses necessarily, maybe, you know, in a therapy appointment, but like, how do we move moms from those early phases of motherhood to these later phases where they’re not still doing those things they might have done really early on any advice you have?


Libby Ward  40:15  

Yeah, well, I mean, we conditioned other people to know how to treat us, we teach other people how to treat us. And so if you’re someone who is always people pleasing, are always putting yourself on the backburner. Other people learn that that’s where you belong. And it’s normal to act like that. And that sounds dramatic, but what that looks like in early motherhood, and you know, in Canada, things are different than they are in the States, of course, but when I think about early motherhood, for me when I had a year maternity leave, like most people do in Canada, and even though my partner, my husband was always very involved at home, he had nothing against cooking or cleaning or doing things at home, when I was at home most of the time with the kids. Number one, they learned that I was the one that could read their cues quicker than he could because I was around them more, I knew what to do quicker, it became easier to do those things, I was naturally more in charge of more things at home. And so they fell onto my plate. And so it sort of set this standard for being the default parent. So even once I went back to work after that full year, I had had all of this time to learn how to be a mom, how to calm our baby, how to hold, you know how to hold them, I was in charge of figuring out the different pieces that needed to happen in a day. And so now all of a sudden, here, we are both at work working the same amount of hours. But I’m still the go to person for all the other things because it’s become the default. And so it takes a lot of communication back and forth to figure out how we share these things. And even you know, when you’re say you’re a stay at home, mom, you know, you still should both be getting those opportunities for a break. And you know, this is a really big conversation that I have a lot to say about. But it comes with having a mutual respect for your time. So if you’re a stay at home, mom, maybe you’re not earning money, but what you’re doing is providing value for your family. And you deserve to have your biological meet needs met, you deserve to have social time, time to do things for yourself, all those things. And that should be something that both you and your partner are equally devoted to making happen for both of you. So yeah, maybe he works 60 hours a week, he deserves to go golfing on Saturday, but you also work seven days a week. So there’s nothing wrong with you going out to do something or, you know, it also comes with our ability to let go of control, you know, this huge conversation where it’s like, you get used to doing everything, so you don’t want him to do it because you know how to do better, and you’re gonna get it done quicker, and you know that it’s going to be done, right. And we have to become okay with letting our partners fail. Because that’s how you learn, we have all these opportunities to learn the little maneuvers for holding the baby and doing the things and they get less opportunities. And when they get the opportunities, what are we doing, we’re over their shoulder, we’re watching them, we’ll just let me do it, we’ll just do this differently. And so we have to have conversations, we have to let go of control. And it just needs to be an ongoing thing where you figure out how do we both be fulfilled, pull people, and not have the assumption that any role is just one of ours, that this is our collective responsibility, the children our collective responsibility, and both of our well being is also our collective responsibility, not just moms to figure out everybody’s


Jacqueline Kincer  43:30  

Yes, so true. You know, I think it’s important in the context of breastfeeding when, you know, if you are nursing or even if you’re pumping, it’s, you know, it becomes your job right to produce the milk, and usually deliver it to the baby. And so by you taking on that sort of labor, right, someone else is or, you know, going to have to take on some other labor. And it’s this balance, right? It doesn’t mean, you know, oh, now everything has suddenly fallen onto you. So, you know, just to kind of round things out because everything you’ve said is applicable to every stage of life and especially motherhood. But with with new moms, new newly postpartum moms with breastfeeding in mind, you know, what’s, what’s something that you would say is a piece of wisdom that you’d really like for them to hear today?


Libby Ward  44:26  

I’d like them to know that their worth is not tied to how they feed their baby, how well they feed their baby, how they feel about feeding their baby, that you are good enough just as you are and that you’re giving it your best. And that however your feeding journey goes does not define who you are as a mom and that whatever you’re going through is not going to be like this forever.


Jacqueline Kincer  44:56  

Well, that was just freaking perfect. Um, yeah. Wow. Oh, I love you. Thank you. Oh my gosh, thank you. I can’t get enough. And I’m sure I’ll be listening to this episode myself over and over again. You know, you’ve got, you’ve got some wonderful platforms out there. I truly hope for the people that need your message find it, and I appreciate it lovey. I appreciate just you saying the things that need to be said. And I know I’m not alone in that sentiment. Thank you.


In this episode, Jacqueline is joined by Libby Ward from Diary of an Honest Mom. Libby is a digital creator, speaker, and mental health advocate with a deep commitment to breaking cycles of trauma & changing the motherhood narrative with honest motherhood. 

This episode gets real and raw as Libby shares her personal experiences with Diary of an Honest Mom and her postpartum depression journey. She shares how she balanced motherhood and marriage, as well as how social media is affecting new mothers mentally. 


In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • What Diary of an Honest Mom is and how Libby got started
  • Libby’s personal motherhood journey
  • How Libby navigated through postpartum depression
  • How Libby balanced motherhood and marriage

A glance at this episode:

  • [5:02] How Libby got started with Diary of an Honest Mom
  • [9:42] Libby’s postpartum and breastfeeding struggles
  • [17:20] How Libby came out of postpartum depression
  • [25:06] Social media’s effects on motherhood
  • [33:36] How honest motherhood intersects with marriage
  • [43:30] The importance of balance in motherhood

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