There are few people who have the ability to make us feel seen quite like Linda Fruits. The creative mind behind every mom's favorite social account, Fruits of Motherhood and author of The Mom Life, shows the nuanced daily realities of the motherhood experience with a much welcomed splash of levity and humor. She started documenting her experiences when she found herself postpartum as a first time stay-at-home mom, feeling alone and isolated. The result—a wave of feedback from other women feeling the same and finding validation for their own emotions in the bravery of her vulnerability.
Linda's individual evolution continued. Flash forward another three in half years, the now married mom of two realized her true sexual identity at the age of 32. After coming out to her husband us a lesbian, she went down her own journey of self-discovery that eventually led her to her now partner, Maddy Gross.
At the time of this interview, Perelel co-Founder, Alex Taylor, sat down with Linda and Maddy in the middle of their pregnancy when they were expecting their first child together with Linda's ex husband as the sperm donor. We talk about finding yourself through motherhood, life after divorce, blended families and their biggest piece of advice for same-sex parents or parents-to-be navigating their own paths to parenthood. Today, the two welcomed their baby boy Arlo and are raising him in the same home as Linda's ex husband with their other two kids. Our conversation is a reminder of the power of community in raising our children and how love always prevails above all.
Read on below.
Perelel: Linda, we started following you because we just felt so seen in your content. You get real on so many topics that are important. Most recently, you shared openly about how you've rediscovered yourself through motherhood and created a blended family with your partner, Maddy. Why is that openness so important to you?
Linda Fruits: Actually, I was annonymous when I first started because I had no idea how it would be perceived. I didn’t want to put my name on it yet because five years ago nobody was really talking about this stuff: the hard stuff, the real stuff—and I felt alone.
So I was like, “I can’t be the only one who is feeling this way.”
With my creative background, my Instagram was born. I started it for myself as a sounding board to see if anybody else struggling or is it just me. Because that’s how it feels when you’re a first time mom.
"Everyone deserves to find love, to be loved, in the way that they want to be."
P: Absolutely. Let's take a step back. Tell us a little bit about your early years of motherhood and how that evolved into discovering more about yourself.
LF: So, I think that as a mom you realize that you have hardly any free time and, if you do, you realize that you only want to do things that you want to do, right? Like you become a little more selfish with your free time—as moms should be—and you realize that you don’t want to be the people pleaser anymore. Because you can’t. I don’t have the time in my schedule or the energy to just say “yes” to things that I no longer want to do.
A couple years ago, I decided to really just dig in to this feeling as to why I was really just not physically attracted any longer to my ex. But it was the same with a lot of my relationships in the past. It was a cycle that just kept continuing. And finally I was brave enough to look into it and identify it and I realized that I was attracted to women. And suddenly all of those signs growing up made a lot more sense. When you know something truly, there’s no shaking it. It’s obvious.
P: So as you're getting more in touch with yourself and reclaiming what you need, eventually you meet Maddy. Was family always part of the conversation with you two?
LF: On our second date, you know she was letting me know where she was in life. She was like, “I want to be a mom.” And I was like, “that’s great because I have two kids and you can have them.” [Laughs]
P: I love that.
LF: And she was like, “No, I want to have my own children.” [Laughing.] I was like, “you can take the little one.”
P: But that’s so great that was part of the initial conversation to just ground everything and make sure you’re both on the same page and open to that world.
LF: I think at that point we needed to be honest with each other because we had really connected with each other. And just to make sure that, you know, we don’t waste each other’s time. At the time, I said, “How cool would it be if Christopher (my ex) was your donor?”
We ended up asking him six months later.
P: So now, fill us in on where you are today?
Maddy Gross: So we asked Christopher and he agreed after thinking it over and we got pregnant. We tried for five months and now we plan on raising the children together as a unit.
P: That’s amazing.
LF: So we all live in the same house. We kind of live in this nesting lifestyle. And it is so beneficial.
You know, as a single parent it is hard. You have to do all of the things, all the time. You know, whether it’s your weekend or not. It’s a lot of stress on the daily activities. We decided, you know we don’t hate each other. He still wants to see his kids everyday. Obviously, I do too. So we just decided we were going to stay living together. Our house is big enough that he has his own half of the house and we have ours.
P: And so together, as a community you’re raising your children and bringing your new little babe into this world. It’s so beautiful how you were able to put all of your differences aside and put your love for your children ahead of everything. I think that’s really admirable, especially going through a separation on one side and new union on the other.
LF: Yeah, it’s a lot to overcome. Thank you.
MG: When Christopher and I met, it all just flowed so nicely.
LF: It was really cute. He was just as a nervous to meet her as she was to meet him because they both just wanted the other person to like them.
P: I love that. And going back to what we were talking about before, showing the world these different paths and ways to parent is so important. When people don’t see themselves represented, they can feel less than, different or on the fringe. But this is normal. Love is love and family is however we want to make it—there are no rules there.
LF: I feel like in living by example, say maybe some families didn’t consider this as an option, it is very convenient for us to continue living together and raising the kids. It gives a little freedom back in our lives.
P: And Maddy, how interesting for you to go through your pregnancy while having a partner who can actually understand the experience of pregnancy.
LF: We actually talk about that a lot because I struggled a lot as a mom with being alone and feeling lonely. Or having to do everything by myself and feeling scared, the anxiety—there’s just so much with going along with being a mom.
It’s funny to me that because I will be able to help her so much and understand so much, she will have no idea what that looks like.
MG: I’m so lucky.
LF: Obviously it’s going to be hard, we’re not taking that away. It is what it is. But not feeling so lonely, having support emotionally and mentally—because usually first time moms are doing it with their other first time partner and it’s just like what are we doing the whole time.
P: Did you experience the loneliness postpartum or during your pregnancy?
LF: It was definitely afterwards. Before getting pregnant, we would go out all the time and be social or have dinners. With kids, it’s harder to make dinner plans or go out because you still have to get up at 6 AM. So I lost parts of my friend group and that freedom.
"Growing up, the ways moms were portrayed in movies definitely gave me a false perception of what motherhood was like. It’s not going to go the way you expect and it’s going to be okay."
P: Now with Maddy, you almost get the opportunity to experience pregnancy again through Maddy’s journey. Looking back, is there one piece of advice that you would give yourself that you’d want to give to Maddy?
LF: That you don’t have to be perfect. That was something that I struggled with that I think contributed a lot to my postpartum anxiety. I feel like growing up, the ways moms were portrayed in movies definitely gave me a false perception of what motherhood was like. It’s not going to go the way you expect and it’s going to be okay. You have to go with the flow.
P: What has really helped you overcome that?
LF: I really think that in starting my Instagram and starting to write about how I’m feeling, it’s really been a two way street. When people write back like, “me, too”—it soothes me. It makes me feel better to know I’m not alone. It’s therapy for sure.
P: How was the process like trying to conceive?
MG: I had PCOS and I thought it would be nearly impossible for me to get pregnant. I was diagnosed years ago and I had male pattern hair growth and really abnormal periods. When I dug into freezing my eggs, getting my lab work done and the whole process with IVF, I was told “you have PCOS.” I work in medicine so I knew there was something going on with my body at the time. I knew there was something up. But I was worried about how pregnancy was going to work out for me. Metformin actually worked for me, so I started taking Metformin.
P: Do you have any pieces of advice for same-sex couples who may be looking to start their families?
LF: You can do it at home.
MG: Be open.
LF: A lot of moms have reached out to me saying they want the same set-up but they don’t think that their husband is going to go for it. What I always say to that is that this is why we do what we do. Because if men don’t have that representation either, about being accepting, still being loving. You don’t have to go through this traumatic, toxic divorce to seperate. You just have to know that you two weren’t meant to be together but you can still be best friends. Christopher and I were best friends. That’s why we do this—to lead by example, if you need an example.
LF: People also ask me all the time about coming out later in life because they’re scared to do it. But if you are curious, it is one hundred percent worth it to figure it out. It is a fight worth fighting for. Because those feelings are not going to go away. Everyone deserves to find love, to be loved, in the way that they want to be. And a lot of these moms are not happy because they don’t feel loved—and that’s not a way to live either.
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This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Perelel.