We first met new mom Daniella Monet for our cover shoot and interview a couple of months before COVID-19 hit our shores. We soaked in the warm rays of sunlight pouring through the windows of Monet’s Sherman Oaks home as she and baby Gio gazed at each other in the middle of her big fluffy bed. Photographer Rena Durham’s camera lights flashed, and the rest of us oohed and aahed at the love shining between mommy and baby.
Monet is an actress, philanthropist and entrepreneur. She’s invested in three companies focused on conscious wellness and beauty: Kinder Beauty (co-founded with “Harry Potter’s” Evanna Lynch), Pig Out Chips and Sugar Taco. With more than 3 million followers on Instagram and 309,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel, she’s become a go-to source of information for wellness and beauty, and earlier this year segued into the parenting space, including launching a new podcast, “Adulting Like a Mother, Father,” with her fiance, Andrew Gardner.
For her first Mother’s Day, Monet had envisioned a quiet outing with her family and her parents. Under safer-at-home, the day will be even more laid-back as she, Gio, Gardner and their pit-mix rescue dogs, Sofi and Jake, spend the day at home. On her Instagram feed, Monet posted photos of her grandparents gazing at Gio through the rolled-up window of Monet’s car. The love on their faces is so palpable, it’s easy to imagine that Gio could feel their imagined kisses and hugs. The images are sweet and heartbreaking. Still, mothering goes on, and it is refreshing to reflect on Monet’s words about mothering before and during this crisis.
What has motherhood been like versus what you had imagined it would be like?
First of all, motherhood at this stage is pretty magical. I’ve always imagined being a mom. I’ve always looked forward to this stage in my life. I don’t think I knew all that it entails. The first two months were full of challenges. Breastfeeding was obviously more difficult than I could have imagined, recovering from a C-section. My birth experience was traumatic, but it was still beautiful. If you would have asked me a month in, it would have been a hard no. But Andrew was here to help me through it, and the bonding with the other parent is so important and so emotional.
I think Andrew would probably admit that he had some sort of postpartum process as well. They don’t go through the pregnancy, but all of a sudden, this being is in their lives. With mothers, there’s so much support. And the guys, they don’t talk about it, but they need that same preparation, that same sense of community and support. Andrew decided to resign [from his job]. And we’re both parenting [full time].
Is that why you decided to launch a parenting podcast?
I came up with the idea for the podcast in the beginning of my pregnancy. I feel very blessed that I’ve been given a platform. With pregnancy and parenting, you enter a different chapter of life that has so many questions and, honestly, a lot of fears as well. I thought it would be great if Andrew and I could talk about all of it.
What was your experience with children before becoming a mother?
I’m the oldest sibling and the oldest of my cousins. I worked in a day care at one point in my life and worked as a babysitter. I just love children, loved growing up around them. But while I had experience with children, I will say that the hormonal experience that comes from being a mom … there’s nothing like that love.
And what about your relationship to your own mother, and other mothers?
Since becoming a mother, I’d say those relationships have gotten stronger. I probably took for granted the work that my mom did as a mom. She was a working mom, a mom who had a partner that was working. I just have so much more respect. I have a partner who’s involved more than the average, and I still feel overwhelmed.
During our photoshoot, you mentioned the importance of people being less judgmental of mothers.
I’m guilty of it. I wouldn’t say that I’ve judged anyone harshly, but I realize now that we shouldn’t give too much advice unless it’s asked for. It’s great to have community support, but only show up when it’s asked for. Spread kindness. Be gentle with one another. It’s not that hard. We all have our struggles. Just know that not everyone is feeling like they’re thriving.
You’ve done a lot – acting, singing, social media influencer, entrepreneur. What do you most identify as, if there is such a classification?
I think I’m still carving that space out for myself. But I would say I’m really enjoying supporting and investing in companies that are in the plant-based space. There’s such trickle-down effect in terms of the environmental impact. Acting gave me that luxury to invest in these companies.
How has the coronavirus quarantine changed your perspective as a mom, and how are you and the family doing?
It’s just made teaching Gio about health, wellness and personal hygiene even more of a priority. We’ve been hanging in there. I feel really lucky to be safe at home, with my family, spending such precious quality time together.
How do you plan to spend Mother’s Day at home?
Good question! I haven’t even thought much about it. Days are all running into each other right now, but I’d be perfectly fine with a nice meal and a long walk together. Hopefully the weather is pretty!
Any other thoughts, tips, concerns?
We’ve been given time to reset, re-evaluate and reprioritize. I really hope everyone comes out of quarantine grateful for basic necessities, respectful for those around them and just all-around more mindful of their personal health and well-being.
Cassandra Lane is Managing Editor of L.A. Parent.