Mom 2 Mom is a recurring post that will feature influential Moms who are making strides in their careers and communities while managing the tests and trials of motherhood. We’ll discuss parenting, careers, and work life balance all through the eyes of today’s featured mom, Jenny Guzman. We met 6 years ago through Houston Money Week and we both share a passion for providing free resources to underserved Houstonians through community development. She also has a few side hustles as a distributor for Young Living Oils, doTERRA oils and Beautycounter; but she does it “all for the discount.” Jenny is 35 (but swears she is 23 on the inside), a wife, and a boymom to Maverick, age 6, and bonus son Matthew, age 12. She is a true animal lover, social justice advocate, and former beauty queen. (Seriously! Google it.) Introducing…Jenny.
How would you describe your parenting style?
It’s a mix of Italian fire, crunchy Betty, and helicopter mom. I am not great at discipline. Puppy eyes and tears pretty much do me in, and they know it. My 6 year old is a master at negotiating, and I’m sure that skill will come in very handy in his adult years, but it sometimes causes me to lose it, and my Italian blood begins to boil.
I’m pretty serious about healthy eating habits with the boys, and I don’t budge on that. They know they can go semi-wild at birthday parties and the homes of other people, but in my house, it’s rabbit food – not really, but if it doesn’t have nutritional value, they aren’t eating it on a regular basis. They do indulge in the occasional cake I make or a bag of chips, and summer time basically equals popcorn every night (freshly popped organic popcorn, of course). I’d like to think I’m hip and the “cool mom,” especially when I serenade the boys with 90s rap while driving. One day, I’m totally going to show up in the carpool line blasting music – that’s my dream anyway. If nothing else, the teachers will think I’m pretty cool, and I could end up earning the next viral video on social media! 🙂
Share your funniest “guess what my kid did” story…
It’s not a “funny” story, but I do have a several proud moments. My bonus baby, Matthew wanted so badly to become a big brother and when he finally did, he took his job so seriously. I remember when Matthew was 6, he took Maverick, who was only 1, for a ride in his Power Wheels car. Without prompt, Matthew buckled in Maverick, ensured the doors were closed tight, put his arm around him to hold him close, and pressed the “gas” pedal. He went through all of the typical motions we go through as parents to ensure our babies are safe before we drive off. It was so precious and now at age 12, he still does this.
From day 1, as a big brother, he has nurtured and loved Maverick in a way I’ve never seen a child do for another. He has always doted on Maverick, and it’s been such a special experience to witness the love they have for each other grow.
What is the one thing you are truly passionate about?
Must I pick just one thing?! Living a life that is meaningful. From the little things and small acts of kindness to the big, change-maker moments, I hope I can leave a lasting impact on this planet. In everything I do, I try very hard to love people for who they are, in that moment. From that place of love, I can connect with them, build empathy and build a relationship.
Besides humans, I REALLY love wildlife – all of them, the entire convention of wildlife. I’m not in love with spiders, but I let them do their thing. My mother always taught me to respect all forms of life. I’ve always enjoyed learning about different creatures, and I’m not afraid to get close and personal. I’m also fairly certain my tombstone will read “Woman Who Hugged an Alligator.” I’ve rescued snakes, birds, turtles, and cats from freeways. I’ll even stop traffic to allow a squirrel to figure out what it’s doing with its life.
Aside from aspiring to be a world-changer, I am 10,000% passionate about food. I love to cook and bake all sorts of vegan goodness. I decided to become a vegetarian in 2004 and began courting the idea of going vegan shortly after that phase. It stuck, and this was wayyyyy before it became a fad. There was a time when the only nut “milks” were those squeezed with your bare hands. Now, I can buy macadamia nut milk from my local H-E-B! There are so many options now. I love experimenting with food and flavors. Basic recipes are boring, and I don’t entertain those, so I like to create dishes that have personality and sass. I started a Facebook page, The Crunchy Life and update it ONLY when I am truly loving whatever I’ve made.
What is the best part about being a Mom?
You mean, besides the constant chaos and disruption? I’m living the dream!! In all seriousness, I love being a #boymom. I remember the doctor telling me that I was having a boy, and I honestly felt this huge disappointment come over me. She then asked me to look at the ultrasound screen, and I saw my tiny little cashew looking baby and immediately fell in love. It was magical and really intimidating all at the same time. I love that I have the opportunity to build tiny little humans into people who will change the world and make it a better place for everyone. Our babies amaze me with their big hearts, love for humanity, and passion. They aren’t afraid to embrace life and all that it has to offer.
The biggest challenge to momhood would be working full time because “mom guilt” is real. Fortunately, I work for a company that is truly family-friendly. I have the luxury of not having to explain myself every single time my child is sick, needs me, or has a school event that I need/want to attend. But there are always those moments when I feel defeated and feel like I’m missing the precious moments in the days that fly by so quickly. I’ve come to realize that it really does take the entire village to rear a child in this world; our boys are surrounded by adults who love them, at school, at church, in our neighborhood, and our family. They’re collecting memories and building relationships with caring people, and when I remind myself of this special fact, the #momguilt subsides.
Have you ever thought “I can’t do this”, and why?
I mean, who hasn’t? Parenting is a seriously tough gig and it’s so easy to mess it up. I lost my mom to cancer when Maverick was just 6 months old. Being a first time mom and losing my own mom in such a short time was really tough. I wanted so badly to go to her for advice and guidance (I still do), and I couldn’t. I found myself googling every ailment, parenting advice, and every little rash, bump, or hiccup. When I joined a “First Time Mom” group on Facebook, it helped me so much.
As I mentioned earlier, “mom guilt” is real. I feel guilty when I am away, and I feel guilty when I’m home and too busy with everything else in life. From my unofficial and not-statistically-significant research, this seems to be a phenomenon unique to mothers but maybe I’m not talking to enough fathers? Sometimes, I wonder if I’m doing any of this “right,” and then the boys will say or do something that makes me so unbelievably proud, I know it wasn’t by accident.
What advice would you give to your younger Mom self?
Girl, CHILL. Is the baby loved? Yes? Great! I still need to remind myself of this. But seriously, surround yourself with people who have lived through the toddler years and when you’re corrected because you put the baby in the car seat with loose straps, don’t get offended; be grateful someone told you the safest way to drive around with your baby! Yes, this happened to me.
Lastly, do you have a personal motto/mantra that you live by?
Life is meant to be lived creating a better world for those who come after us. I don’t want my boys to ever think just volunteering or donating to a cause is enough to make an impact on the world. While those things do create memories, stronger organizations, and great press, they should look at every living being on this planet as one who deserves dignity, honor, and justice. My boys know it’s never acceptable to stay silent when someone is being treated unfairly or hurting.
The world changers in our history were never silenced, corrupted, jaded, or paused. They trail-blazed on. The greatest of the great didn’t know they’d have books written about them or statues resurrected in their honor. The fire within their own hearts meant they couldn’t give up. I don’t know what it feels like to be complacent, and I hope my boys never do either. Our job as humans is to care for each other, even in the darkest of nights and brightest of days. Humanity won’t survive if we only live inside our own walls. I hope my boys always remember this.