The celebrity life can look oh so glamorous. But motherhood is the great equalizer. And whether you’re an A-lister, B-lister and no-lister, you just can’t escape some of the things that make being a mom a universal experience. R&B singing and songwriting sensations Faith Evans and Deborah Cox speak candidly on pregnancy, husbands, balancing careers and life in the mommy lane:
The platinum-selling, Grammy winning recording artist and former First Lady of Bad Boy Records is the first to tell you that she is a hard-working mother of four, ranging from age 16 to 2 1/2, with little time to spare. An award-winning songwriter and vocal powerhouse, Evans will also let you know that her journey in motherhood began not very fabulously. “When I had my first child I was on welfare, so I didn’t even get some of the things that having good health insurance allows you to have. I knew I needed prenatal care, so I went and stood on the line to get WIC, food stamps and Medicaid, but having a clinic doctor was just not the same.” Several years and several hit records later, Evans now eyes developing a sitcom loosely based on her life and getting back in the studio for another album, but says being Mom will always be job # 1.
The Second, Third and Fourth Time Around: “With my first two pregnancies I didn’t think much about being mindful of nutrition. I was 20 years old, busy traveling and trying to make something happen for myself career-wise. I was busy hustling for money so I couldn’t really just enjoy the pregnancy. I regret that, and tried to do better with the others. With my last, I even took a break from working and actually sat and read all the books. I forgot a lot of stuff I should have known.”
Bringing Sexy Back?: “I never had the pleasure of feeling like a sexy pregnant person. I started off feeling good, buying cute maternity clothes and going to the gym, but after a few months my energy faded, I let others things overwhelm me and I just couldn’t do it. Once I started feeling fat, I was like, what does it matter?”
Keeping It Real: “I have the same struggles as anyone else. Money comes and money goes. It’s not like we’re set for life. But these days it’s all about the kids, not our careers. We do everything ourselves with the help of family and don’t even have a babysitter yet for the two-year old.”
Searching for “Me Time”: “As a mom of four I have less and less time for myself. I have to sneak it in. It’s like, when I go to the dentist, that’s relaxation.”
Being Grateful: “I just wake up and thank God for another day and for my children. I stay in prayer and try to be patient. It’s an honor that God gave me these four beautiful kids. I’m doing the best job I can.”
This 34-year old singer, songwriter and Clive Davis protege knows a little something about blockbuster hits. After all, her songs have been topping the R&B and dance charts for years. But her latest release, eight-week old Kayla is one of her proudest productions yet. Kayla joins big brother Isaiah, 5, big sister, Sumayah, 2 1/2, to give Cox another round of changed priorities. “Now that I have kids I try to carve out more family time. I was very driven and focused on my career. I was always on the road. I feel like I missed out on family time and quality time. Now, it’s very important to me to have my family time as well,” she says. As she prepares for a new tour and recording a Christmas album, Cox and her husband are keeping the family together.
Her Formula for a Healthy Pregnancy: “I was pretty disciplined to eat healthy, focusing on good calories not junk food. I never binged on donuts or chocolate. My slacking off was like eating potato chips. And my husband was there reminding me to stay on the healthy track.”
Giving Baby Breast: “I am big believer in breastfeeding. My oldest was breastfed for 9 months, my second for 6 months and I will try to nurse Kayla for 6 months. At the end of the day, it’s a big sacrifice but you have healthier kids.”
Keeping Her Marriage Strong: “It’s important to carve out time and have those date nights with your husband. Go to the movies. Do the fun things you did when you first met. When you keep that part of your relationship intact, it feeds and nurtures your marriage.”
Staying Stress-Free: “Yoga really helped me stay stress free and relaxed. I also get up at around 5:00 a.m. every morning for my “me time.” I usually meditate, read the Bible, do deep breathing exercise and just be still.”
The After-Baby Body: “I don’t stress myself out about getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight. My weight was the belly and booty. I’m not forcing it; I just let it happen naturally. While I was breastfeeding, a lot of the weight dropped off. You don’t have to force it. Don’t try to live up to the celebrity body. The average woman is not a size two. She is a woman with hips, thighs, stomach and a booty and we just don’t have a lot of those images on TV and in magazines. Remember, celebrities are not the norm.
On being a mom: “Until you have your own children, you don’t realize how much you can reprioritize. Things that once seemed important, just aren’t as important as being attentive to your kids and making sure they are okay.”
Kimberly Seals Allers is the author of The Mocha Manual series of books and founder of www.MochaManual.com, an online magazine and community for Black moms. A former senior editor at Essence, she is also the editorial director of The Black Maternal Health Project at Women’s eNews.