Listen: The New “Cool Moms” Podcast by Elise Peterson & Lizzy Okpo
Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano
Photography by Photographed by Ackime Snow
Finding “your people” as a new mom is one of the most important things one can do. Especially with the crushing sense of isolation that often goes hand-in-hand with newborn motherhood. Two Brooklyn creatives who found solace in each other (especially when few of their other friends had children) are Lizzy Okpo—co-designer of the brand William Okpo—and multi-hyphenated artist Elise Peterson (whom we profiled late last year while pregnant). Old acquaintances who reconnected after they both gave birth in January 2018, the creative duo has now launched a podcast, dubbed Cool Moms, to help other women find kinship with fellow “women who make both their passions and parenting a priority.” The first episode, out today, features artist Zoe Buckman, and future interviews include a few of our favorite Mother profile subjects! Below, the super-candid mamas discuss all things Cool Moms, creativity, and new motherhood, with us.
Were you both big podcast fans before starting your own?
Lizzy: “Yes, very much so. Today, I faithfully subscribe to The Read, Brilliant Idiots, NPR’s How I Built This, Flagrant 2, and a few others.”
Elise: “I’m almost embarrassed to say, no. I’m not sure I’ve ever listened through a podcast in its entirety.”
When did it occur to both of you that you wanted to do your own?
Lizzy: “Listening to other podcasts, I’ve always imagined what it would be like to be on the other side, and what ridiculous things would come out of my mouth. When Elise asked me to join her as a co-host for Cool Moms, the lightbulb went on.”
Elise: “All of my work from visual art to writing and even on-camera hosting is centered around storytelling. Being one of the first in my friend circle to become a mother, I became inundated with questions I didn’t always have the answers to. I started to seek out other like-minded women to have this open, honest dialogue around motherhood and self care. A podcast felt like the right platform to share these experiences. Lizzy was the only person I wanted to take on Cool Moms with.”
How did you settle on the name Cool Moms?
Lizzy: “All Elise. I had a different name in mind that still makes me laugh. Elise had a strong vision for Cool Moms that I did not want to disrupt.”
Elise: “Ha! Yes, it’s a total rip-off of the Mean Girls quote—’I’m not a regular mom, I’m a cool mom.’ Throughout my pregnancy I was terrified that I would forget how to pour into myself now that I was responsible for sowing into someone else.”
What defines a “cool mom” to you?
Lizzy: “Women who carve out their own path, and merge their new journey of motherhood with their regular day-to-day activities effortlessly.”
Elise: “A woman who knows how to prioritize herself and her passions in the midst of nurturing others.”
Can you give us a sneak peek as to some of the women who you’ll be interviewing? How are you selecting your subjects?
Lizzy: “We have Jodie Patterson, she has been quite the mom crush. Jodie embodies what it means to be a ‘Cool Mom’ perfectly. We select our subjects based on their reactions to societal norms and/or why they came to where they chose to be in life.”
Elise: “We have Rajni Jacques, Fashion Director at Teen Vogue and Allure, coming up for Episode 2. The podcast is the perfect excuse to get to know women we admire on a more intimate level.”
What’s your big dream for this podcast?
Lizzy: “To have avid listeners. To travel with this podcast, to meet more inspiring women and people, to meet people in different walks of life that I couldn’t even imagine existed.”
Elise: “We are also striving to foster a global community for women who may otherwise not have access.”
You’re both creatives. How have you felt your creativity evolve, adapt, or shift after becoming a parent?
Elise: “I’m much more discerning with the projects I take on and the collaborators I align myself with, because my time is that much more precious. I also feel free in my expression. I no longer have the urge to prove myself. I’m just excited to be creating.”
Lizzy: “My creativity has heightened and shifted. I design, I genuinely still enjoy designing, but instead of womenswear it shifted to home, interior, furniture, and other business ventures. I’ve always wanted to venture out of fashion, but since having my daughter I do not look at fashion the same. Fashion today feels too small for me.”
What women do you both look up to or admire for their ability to “juggle” it all?
Lizzy: “Jodie Patterson does it quite well. She has five children, travels, started business, speaks to other mothers, and has a heavy hand in philanthropy. Meanwhile, I’m still practicing my sleep regimen.”
Elise: “There are countless women that I admire for their ability to ‘juggle,’ and look forward to having them in on the Cool Moms conversation. I’m also conflicted by that question as of recently, simply because there isn’t the same expectation, the same questioning of men. I am, however, grateful that we can hold space for women to discuss the realities of these projected and at times self-imposed expectations.”
What are your own tips and advice for having a baby, a creative life, a career, relationships, etc.?
Lizzy: “Time! Having the support system to help you get time for yourself, for your creative self, career self, relationship. Actually, being able to have someone to watch the baby or babies so you can spend time being your original you. Allowing yourself not to feel guilty for making time to be you again.”
Elise: “You can’t do it alone. Whether you have a partner, family, or friends, it’s important to foster a community of support. Lizzy is also spot-on with not plaguing yourself with guilt. It’s hard!”
What have been both of your saving graces in the “dark ages” of the early newborn months?
Lizzy: “I would say the bathroom, but my daughter has infiltrated that personal time, as well. Truthfully, other adults, preferably someone who is very funny. Being home alone all day, during the winter, with a crying child, all I wanted was human interactions, someone who spoke the same language. I just wanted to belly laugh, and when I did it helped. Hell, I would have probably been content with someone who spoke a different language, as long as they gave me cues on when to laugh at the funny parts.”
Elise: “Literally all of the above that Lizzy said, plus an occasional spliff.”
How have you felt your identity shift after giving birth?
Lizzy: “Both physically and mentality things have shifted for me. For one, I felt ugly for the first two months, but so excited about my ugliness because I felt that the only reason I’ve been looking ugly was so my daughter can be as beautiful as she is. Mentally, my way of thinking has shifted, I think of everything as being sacrificial these days. It’s a bit weird. I gave up a lot of my old stubborn and selfish habits because I feel as though it wouldn’t serve me and my daughter. Today, I wouldn’t entertain an argument I would turn the other cheek. But 2017-previous, Lizzy would argue you down.”
Elise: “I see myself becoming the woman I always hoped to be, and honestly it’s terrifying. It’s terrifying that now I have to truly show up, everyday. I’m relentless in my pursuit of being the highest vibration of self.”
Is there anything that surprised you about the early newborn months? Something you wish someone had told you before?
Lizzy: “Let’s just say whether a heads up was given about the lack of sleep or the constant crying, it could not have made a difference. There’s no mental preparation for that experience. When it’s happening, you feel as though you’re the only person going through with it and it’s tough.”
Elise: “Geesh! I’m not sure if you really can tell someone anything that will truly prepare them for the throes of new parenthood. I will be frank and say I did not enjoy having a newborn very much. I’ve been in love with my son from the beginning, but I definitely didn’t enjoy him being a helpless nugget. We have a lot more fun as he becomes more and more independent.”
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