Hi friends, Jen McLellan here! Last week the lovely Amanda Edwards introduced herself and this week it’s my turn. As some of you know, I write a blog about plus size pregnancy and birth called Plus Size Mommy Memoirs. I’m still very dedicated to my passion of supporting plus size women during pregnancy, birth and motherhood. Yet, this new project, Peachie Moms, expands my ability to bring messages of body love to moms of all sizes and that makes me so very happy.
Amanda and I met 2 years ago at the first ever Body Love Conference in Tucson, AZ where we were both presenters. We bonded over a mutual belief in body positivity and we are both Colorado mamas. We even have the same pediatrician! I like to joke that we started Peachie Moms just so I could see Amanda all the time because I truly adore her. The truth is we complement one another so perfectly, that starting this venture together has truly been peachie. Amanda is not only a fabulous business partner but she’s a true friend.
Alright, I’ll stop gushing over her and tell you more about myself. Do you remember the days of Myspace where there were questionnaires all the time? Or did I just date myself?! Anyhoo, I thought it might be fun to do a little Jen McLellan Q&A so here we go…
What is your favorite memory?
My wedding day! I know, totally cliché, but it was the most magical day of my life!! I married my best friend, since the age of 19, aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. It was a day full of laughter, a few tears, and an immense amount of love.
One of the most memorable parts of that day was when I got caught without a napkin on my lap. Let me explain…I was a camp counselor for about a decade and have remained close with many of my camp friends. Up at camp, if you get caught without a napkin on your lap you have to stand up and sing a song.
All of a sudden, in the middle of toasts, the table my camp friends were sitting at burst out in song, “Jen! Jen! Don’t be a sap, get that napkin back on your lap. This is not a horse’s stall. This is a first class dining hall. Stand up and sing a song, sing a song, we are waiting!”
I was completely caught off guard but my wedding party was in on it along with my husband. After I quickly explained what was happening to the bewildered guests, my mind went blank for a moment and I couldn’t think of any songs. Then I’m a Little Teapot started coming out of my lips. I ended the, “tip me over and pour me out…” line by kissing my husband and everyone cheered.
So while, for many, their wedding day is their favorite, how many have spent it singing I’m a Little Tea Pot?!
What is your favorite book?
She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb has remained my favorite since I was a junior in high school. It’s the coming-of-age story of Dolores Price, a fictional character. It’s fascinating, often shocking, while still somehow remaining humorous. As a fat teenager growing up in southern California, I really related to the body image struggles Dolores faced throughout her life.
Yes, I used the f-word (FAT) and I’ve embraced it! I sure didn’t embrace it when I was 16 reading that book. I learned to love it at the age of 30, after the birth of my son changed how I feel about my body. There is something so incredibly powerful about taking a word that has been used to hurt me throughout my life and say it’s MINE! I am fat and that’s okay. When I started self-identifying as fat, it no longer hurt when people tried to use it as a weapon against me. As a person who puts herself out there publicly via blogging and public speaking, you’d be sadly surprised by how many times I’m attacked for believing that every body is beautiful.
What has been your biggest challenge?
I prefer the favorite book question, can we go back to that?
In June of 2012 I had a miscarriage and lost the sibling we so desired for our son. Then, just a few days later, I was laid off of my non-profit job of over 7 years that I loved. I went from being my family’s breadwinner to crying in the parking lot of my government assistance office hoping we could get some kind of help. Turns out we would’ve qualified if I was pregnant or if we had another child. Life is sometimes cruel like that.
My biggest life’s challenge is feeling as if I failed myself and my family that summer, and all of the struggles we’ve faced because of me being laid off. We’re certainly stronger because of it, but it’s been a challenge nonetheless.
What is your biggest success up until now?
I believe my biggest success has been all that I’ve built with Plus Size Birth and the Plus Size Mommy Memoirs blog. I receive e-mails often from people telling me how I’ve helped them and, to be honest, I cry each and every time. I cry because I know what it feels like to be plus size and pregnant and scared. I’ve worked incredibly hard to build the resources I was searching for when I was pregnant. I cry because all I’ve ever wanted to do in my life is to make a difference in the world; from being a camp counselor as a teen, to working in the non-profit sector for many years, and now building my own project. I cry because in many ways by doing this work, it helps to heal the woman who felt like she failed everyone just a few years ago.
What one thing would you change if you had to do it over?
Who picked these questions?! Oh wait, I’m the one who Googled, “Powerful getting to know you questions.”
I’m going to be cliché again and say…nothing. All of the highs and lows in my life have led up to today. They’ve taken me to amazing places, like standing on stage and telling over 200 people that it’s okay to love themselves! I don’t think I would’ve been able to climb up the stairs to that stage if I hadn’t climbed out of a deep depression after losing a baby I so deeply desired and a career I was passionate about.
Life happens for a reason and we don’t usually know the reason until we’re able to look back and smile. Or, in my case, when you find yourself at coffee shop one day, with a woman you admire, saying let’s set out to change the way moms feel about their bodies…let’s start Peachie Moms!
Jen McLellan Cover Photo by, Kindred Photographer