Welcome to our series: Perelel Lives. We live in a society that glamorizes and celebrates women‘s careers, the companies they’ve built, the movements they’ve created. But, what we’ve failed to highlight is a facet of their lives that is far more personal—a side that presents perhaps the hardest, but most rewarding job of all—a job with no PTO, no holiday breaks, no sick days, and no salary. Oh, and it also lasts a lifetime: motherhood.
Perelel Lives elevates stories on becoming and being a mother from our community of women we admire, women who do it in parallel to their personal and professional pursuits. Here, we have real conversations about motherhood.
Self-care is synonymous with Mandy Madden Kelley. If you know the name, you'll know that Madden has a knack at always reminding us that your body is sacred and you should honor it. Something that we can get behind here at Perelel. But her message takes on new meaning when you know Madden herself. The Los Angeles mom hails from New Zealand and runs her namesake blog Mandy Madd in addition to her company Pagerie, a luxury line for pets. As you can imagine, she knows a little bit about nourishing herself to be able to take care of everything else. We sat down with Madden to talk about the most personal facet of her life yet—her journey to motherhood—and how it has, in turn, shaped her career, identity, and appreciation of self-care.
Keep reading for our conversation.
Perelel: Let's start at the beginning. Did you know you always wanted to be a mom? Or were there periods where you didn't want to have kids?
Mandy Madden Kelley: Absolutely. I actually never planned to have kids and I did not think I was going to have kids. I was scared about the idea and it was something that frightened me growing up because I knew it would require a lot of responsibility. It would be the life of another individual that I would have to take care of aside from mine. What is interesting was that for my whole life I planned to continue living in New Zealand, where I’m from. I decided to take a trip to America. I spent a whole week by myself in New York and then flew from New York to Los Angeles. On that same flight, I met the love of my life.
P: Oh wow.
MMK: I met him at baggage claim and within a week, everything I had planned my whole life was shattered. I dropped everything and I said, “I am going to move out of my country and move across the ocean for this man because I want to be with him.”
When I met my soulmate, everything changed: my perspective in life changed, my attitude changed, and my values shifted. It is interesting because I think that when you meet the right person, they truly help you shine and make you feel comfortable in your skin. It wasn’t until I became a wife that I really had this motherly instinct inside me. I wanted to merge my meaning with my soulmate’s, and I wanted to have a baby with him and grow a family. That was the shift it had. It truly was when I met him that I thought, “Wow. I’m so ready to have a baby with him.”
P: What about in regards to your career? Were there any thoughts of becoming a mom while also having a career? Were you afraid you would also have concessions?
MMK: What was interesting was that after I had my daughter, Kaia, it felt like the reversal of what society tells us to do: focus on your career, build your way up to the top, and then settle down and have babies. I basically had the opposite. I moved to a different country, I married the man I love, we had a baby, and then I started my career. This was a different perspective for me because I truly wanted my daughter to have something as an example for her. I wanted to be a good role model for her. Having my daughter ultimately fueled me to do better in my career. It inspired me and brought out the best in me.
"We need to teach the next generation how to take care of their body and their soul."
When I started Mandy Madd, I had an idea about what self-care was, but it was only after I became a mother that I understood the power of self-care. I not only understood the whole purpose of self-care for us as women and for us as mothers, but I also understood the habit of it and ensuring that we pass down that habit for generations. We need to teach the next generation how to take care of their body and their soul. This was a secret that I learned after I had my daughter, so my career really started thriving after I had her. It made me understand the value of what I was actually teaching to people.
P: We so believe in that message at Perelel. How has being a mom affected how you are in your other roles, like as a business women?
MMK: I think being a mother has made me a better leader because it made me more patient. It made me communicate better. I really had to think about the way I was communicating with my team. It made me more courageous, in that I would have the ability and I would take the risk. I think before I had my daughter, I was scared of taking risks, and I was scared of taking that leap of faith. After I had Kaia, it was such a big shift for me as a woman. In my journey, I learned to take those risks. I learned to go with the way of life and to adapt to new situations.
"Being a mother has made me a better leader because it made me more patient."
P: I love that. Motherhood is wonderful, but it is hard as well. There are good days, bad days, and everything in between. For those harder days, where do you find support?
MMK: Really for me, my number one support was my partner and that is why I’m so grateful for my husband. He was my rock through pregnancy and the delivery process. I had diastasis recti postpartum. It was very painful. I know that if it wasn’t for his words of encouragement and support, I wouldn’t have been able to go through with that.
Before, I was very calculated and a control freak. But as I became a mother, I learned the importance of accepting help and the importance of delegating things, which is something I personally struggled with. Learning how to accept help from my family, from my husband, and just letting go was so powerful.
P: Yes, leaning on your people around you is so imperative. Do you think there's been a generational shift in our society that acknowledges how motherhood is beautiful but hard, too?
MMK: Seriously, motherhood is tough. It is a roller coaster and definitely not a straight line. As you said, you will have good days and bad days. It is on those bad days where that support just matters so much. What I am grateful for is that we are now having this shift in society, where we’re starting to become more and more open about motherhood, mental health, wellness and self-care. We are shifting away from the very superficial mindset that skincare and makeup is self-care for us. We are really looking at those who advocate taking a moment to reflect on our day, meditate, and appreciate our bodies for everything that they do. I’m so grateful for that shift, and I notice it with my fellow mother friends. They have become more open, and they are not afraid to say things like: “Today has been such a hard day." "This is what I’ve been dealing with...” When we open a conversation like that, it allows for us to not feel so alone in the journey. It makes us realize that the things that are happening to us are normal, and we are not alone in the journey.
P: Absolutely. On the self-care note, let's talk about self-care rituals. Do you teach them to your daughter? Or, alternatively, what do you do when you need a moment to yourself?
MMK: I am a very introverted person, which I think is very surprising to some people when they find out. I really derive my energy from being by myself. I love creating little rituals in my life. I would take a bath with my daughter and ask her how her day at school was. I normally teach her the habits of loving her body from within. This also serves as a moment for me to pause and reflect on my day and my life and recharge my body. That is my big way to take care of myself and take care of my body as well as a moment for myself like listening to music, doing an at-home facial, or a facial massage that helps drain the lymphatic system or calms and relaxes my muscles. These are ways of grounding myself.
P: I love that. What would you say is the most valuable piece of advice you have received as a mother?
MMK: The idea of becoming a mother can often seem so daunting to a lot of us as women. There is a lot of stigma and pressure that comes with the identity of becoming a mother. The best advice I have ever received was when I first had my daughter Kaia. I remember I wanted to do everything so right. I was so scared of failing as a mom, and everything I did was so calculated. I was often asking, “Am I doing this right? Am I doing this wrong? Is there a correct way of doing this?” I really didn’t know that what I was learning was my own journey. The best advice I learned was to not sweat the small stuff. It was easy to get caught up with the small details, but looking back now, most of the small details really didn’t matter. My daughter is healthy. She is thriving. She is a happy girl, and those other details don’t matter. You have to take it one day at a time. It is a journey with no destination.
P: For yourself, how has your individual identity changed? Both in becoming a mother and fast-forward to now where you have launched your own businesses in parallel with becoming a mother. What have you learned about yourself?
MMK: This is such a great question. I think for me, I learned that I am very nurturing by nature. I didn’t know that until I became a mother, truly. I think those natural instincts came out of me. Now, I of course not only want to protect my family, but I also want to protect my team members. As an entrepreneur, I love every single one of my team members in my business, and I care so much about them. I want to protect them like I am their mother as well, so this natural instinct of wanting to nurture and care for them is something I never knew I had inside of me until I became a mother.
We want to hear about your motherhood journey. Join our community, The Village, to connect with other women and find support along the way. Plus, nourish your body throughout motherhood with OB/GYN-founded vitamins for moms that support your energy, mood and beauty, too.
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.