Mom Knows Best: Q&A With Vermouth Founder Jill Jago
Forget the Founding Fathers—this week, in celebration of all things Mom, we’re turning the spotlight on Vermouth’s Founding Mothers. (Fun fact: each of the company’s three female founders have two children).
In the lead up to Mother’s Day (need a last-minute gift? We’ve got you covered HERE with our lip crayon flights) we’ll be releasing a Q&A with each of our founders in which they get candid about motherhood, reflect on their relationships with their own mothers and grandmothers, and reminisce about the ways the women in their families wore lipstick. As each woman shares insights into her journey of motherhood—some funny, some sobering, all real—it reminds us that although we each have a separate path in life, there are experiences, such as motherhood, that tie us together in unexpected ways.
First up, we hear from our Chief Marketing and Sustainability Officer, Jill Jago, who admits to struggling with isolation and judgement from others as she raised her two children, Matthew (now 22) and Caitlin (19) and shares fond memories of her glamorous grandmothers who never left the house without lipstick.
What were your expectations of motherhood before you became a mother? What was the reality?
I don’t think I had any. It was such an unknown. I had no experience with children before I held my own in my arms. I was just sort of along for the ride from the beginning. The reality was—HARD! I don’t live near any family and my husband was really consumed with work and traveling all the time. He went to Japan for two weeks when my son Matthew was just six weeks old! When I had Caitlin, he brought me back from the hospital, dropped me at home, made me a tuna sandwich and went back to work. I had to rally and go pick up Matthew from daycare three hours later!
I think main thing that struck me was how much judgement there was around parenting. All the “right” way to do things, the expectations that the child is the center of your existence. All the judgment around breastfeeding, the list goes on! I would feel guilty for thinking about myself and wishing for a break from my kids! Plus, as a working mother the expectation was always that the kids were “my” responsibility. If they got sick and needed picking up or whatever, I was the one who had to drop everything. There was no “I’m staying late for a drink with the team after work” for me! Having kids can be hard, but what I always knew—and what is now my reality—is that they grow up into wonderful, independent human beings and that the majority of your relationship with your children is with them as adults. Mine turned out all right despite my “failings"!
What was the most important thing you learned from your own mother?
Do what you love. I experienced a lot of pressure from my father to be a lawyer or go into some big money-making profession. Mum told me to do what I loved at university and figure it out later. Best advice ever. I took it and never looked back. If you love something, you can always find ways to make it useful. She also taught me that holding negative emotions only hurts you, not the person who causes them or who they’re directed at. When my parents got divorced, I was so angry with my dad and she, despite her own pain, said, “bitterness is only going to hurt you, Jill. Let it go.” She’s also incredibly brave. She was raised in a culture where appearances were everything and when she decided to get divorced it was an incredibly courageous decision, but she did it and I was so very, very proud of her. Still am!
What did motherhood teach you about yourself?
It taught me to be less selfish. In fact, perhaps the pendulum swung too far the other way because I forgot about me for a long time (and was probably an insufferable martyr as a result), but I’ve figured that out again now! And most importantly, it taught me that love is infinite. When you have your second child (or third, fourth, etc. I guess!) people sometimes ask, “how are you going to love it as much as the first?” but the truth is your heart just gets bigger. It also taught me humility. Sometimes your kids are so astoundingly, profoundly philosophical that it forces you to question everything you thought you knew —I love that. It reminds me that you must always question what you know...
What is the hardest part about being a mother?
Other people’s opinions!
What memories do you have of your mother/grandmother wearing lipstick?
My grandmothers were so glamorous! They were young mothers during WWII when rationing and all that was in play. I think the way that generation handled it was to always make the most of their appearance and step out with their heads held high, despite all the deprivation and rationing (this was the UK—rationing was in place well through the end of the 50s). They NEVER left the house without their lipstick. I spent a lot of time with both of my grandmothers growing up—each one had a hallway mirror with a little table underneath it right before you went out the front door. I remember, whenever we left the house, they would always stop, put on their lipstick, check their hats and then turn decisively to step out the door. It must have impacted my mum too because she NEVER leaves the house without lipstick. Whenever I go home to visit the only gift she ever asks for is a new lipstick!
What advice do you have for women who are (or want to be) mothers and still maintain their careers?
Don’t do it all! It’s a hackneyed phrase but it does take a village! It’s just like on the plane—you have to put your own oxygen mask on before you help others because you’re no good to anyone if you pass out. So don’t feel guilty about palming your kids off on a neighbor for the afternoon (they’ll love it!), don’t feel guilty about sitting them in front of a movie if you really need a nap. And the same goes for your employer. Don’t feel guilty. Don’t apologize for having kids. Most bosses have them too —if they’re able to work 24/7 it’s because someone else is looking after their kids for them (and women can be just as bad as men here, it’s not a gender thing!) Challenge the status quo—Always! It’s not you, it’s them!
By Rachel Gallaher