I Got It From My Mama: Mother’s Day with Brittany and Susana

By Brittany Tiplady

We got it from our mamas. As two ladies who run a feminist magazine, leading a group of warrior writer women who each have their own voice, we thought we’d give some credit back to the women who’ve shaped us. It’s through their guidance and resilience, after all, that we’re here today.

To know my mom Susana is to love her. She’s a tiny, but fierce woman, with an infectious laugh and the energy of an 18 year-old. She’s fun, she’s tough, and she’s my best friend. My mom is an athlete, a yogi, an immigrant, a homemaker, and a potato-chip-loving-firecracker, who has taught me, among many things, how to start the day with a good old to-list, the importance of family, and how to keep relationships and true love alive for many, many years.

She worked tirelessly as a stay-at-home mom to create a childhood of opportunity, along with my dad, for my brother and I. After dedicating so much of her adult life to rearing two children, she’s recently found herself loving the freedom and possibility of aging. She’s a one-of-a-kind spicy lady, who you can often find running local races, working on her aerial silk game, shopping at H&M, or practicing yoga with friends. My mom is one of the strongest and most innovative women I have ever known and everyday she teaches me the power of perseverance and hard work. Oh, and some might say we look alike, but we aren’t quite sold on it.

Do you feel more independent at your age now, or when you were younger? And why?

Definitely now. Why? Number one, I don’t have little ones anymore. I have more money. As a person, I am so much more independent now. I wish I was more independent when I had you kids. My life with fitness has opened up so many more avenues for me that have led me here.

How does life feel at 50?

I don’t feel old at all. I have to keep reminding myself that I’m 50. Truthfully, I love being this age. Way more than at 21. If I could go back, I still would choose my age now.

When did you know you wanted to be a mother?

As long as I can remember. Since, I was a teenager. I always wanted to have a family. The number of kids has changed-we always wanted to have four and I changed my mind very quickly [laughs]. It was never not an option be a mom.

Mom and I, circa 1991.

What is your favourite part of being a mother?

I think to be honest it’s every stage of your kids’ lives, from birth to present. Now you’re getting married that’s an amazing experience, and that’s a big stage in our lives. The baby stage, the the toddler stage, every stage has it’s rewards. Even the teenage stage, while it’s so challenging it still has it’s rewards. I wouldn’t trade motherhood for anything in the world. If someone asked if I would do it again, I would in an instant. But if I could freeze time, I would freeze you kids as babies.

Worst birth, me or Avery?

You in a sense, because you were my first. Avery’s was easier because it was scheduled and I had already done it. I didn’t know what to expect with you. But neither one was a natural birth, I had two c-sections, but I went through the stages up to the delivery with you; 16 hours of labour. I didn’t go through that with Avery. If you’re asking me which pregnancy is easier, yours was ten times easier than Avery’s. Avery’s was horrible, I was so sick. Post birth more difficult with Avery too, mentally it was much harder.

How has your style changed over time?

Well, I have so much more of a personal style now and I’m more about my personal style now. Before, I didn’t care. But I think again, that has something to do with my priorities. When you guys were younger, my priority was not my makeup, clothing, and hair, it was my kids. That changes. Now, I can be as selfish as I want because it’s just me and [your dad]. I was very conservative when you were younger.

You were SO conservative!

Yes! Whereas now, I am more edgy. I am more willing to put on different things and take risks. And I am very proud of my body, so I like to show my body and I think if you have it, why shouldn’t you flaunt it?

What is your advice now to new moms?

Look after yourself. Put yourself first. Because, to be honest, if you’re not happy, nobody else in your family is going to be happy. So look after you, take time for you, and take time for you and your [partner]. Not just you and the kids. As moms I think we tend to, because that’s just our nature, put our children first. Which they should be first, BUT you need to be first before those kids because if you’re not present, if you’re not healthy, if you’re not looking after yourself, it’s going to trickle down to those kids. My advice is to go to the gym, eat healthy, take time for you. Every now and then, go get your nails done, go get your hair done, treat yourself. Have date night. It’s important to maintain a healthy relationship with your [partner], its important to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself, and then your kids are going to thrive.

Mom and dad on their honeymoon, 1988.

What is your fountain of youth secret?

[Laughs] Personally, for me it’s exercise and eating well. I changed all of my eating habits, I changed my entire health regiment, and I started looking after myself. I think exercise has turned back my clock, I can do things I never thought I could do! Could you imagine me doing all the things I do now ten years ago?

No, never!

Exactly. I wasn’t strong enough mentally or physically. I honestly believe it’s all about how you feel and what you take out of life. It doesn’t have to be any fancy diets or workouts, it’s just about eating right, and drinking lots of water. And I’ve never drank or smoked, which I think has also made a huge difference. I feel younger today than I did ten years ago. Anyone who knows me notices that. But you can’t stop the wrinkles! I don’t have a lot of rituals around skincare or anything like that. It was only the last couple of years that I started looking after my skin-as you remember, I never did before.

Our first trip to New York, 2002.

What excites you most about life?

What’s coming. We have so many plans and I can’t wait to fulfill all those plans. I can’t wait to continue traveling. I can’t wait to ride on the back of dad’s motorcycle. I can’t wait to go down the aisle with you. I can’t wait for grandchildren. All of that stuff seems so exciting to me, and fun!

Has being an immigrant, especially one from a developing country, changed your outlook and gratitude for life?

Absolutely. Because, I look at things a lot differently. Especially when I hear other immigration stories, I think about my own life at 14 years old and wonder how my parents managed to do that. Thinking about it now, if we would have taken you kids and moved to a foreign country where we didn’t even speak the language, with no money, I can’t imagine how hard that would have been. It’s so brave. As an adult, how do you uproot your whole family, leave everything and everyone behind, and then start all over? It’s so difficult. I tip my hat to my parents and anyone who does that. I can’t imagine life if my family and I never immigrated here [from Peru]. I would have never met dad, you kids would not be here, we would never be in the position we are today had my parents not made that choice so many years ago. Do I admire people who do that? Absolutely. You’re leaving poverty, and hardships behind, so you can give someone a better life. But looking back, I don’t know if I am that brave as an adult now.

It’s so different for me now though. I don’t think in Spanish anymore, I think in English. I dream in Spanish sometimes though!

When do you see your own mother in you?

Doing the sign of the cross before leaving for the day, or traveling, was a habit of my moms. I do it for you kids, I do it for your dad before he goes to work. That is definitely something I got from my mom. My mom is always there, to be with her, to be close to her. The other day, when I was cold, I put my housecoat on over top of my jeans and shirt.

Classic Latina mom move.

Oh totally! I looked in the mirror and realized: oh dear god, I am my mother! My youthfulness I get from my mom too, and my social skills. My mom is so social and friendly, everybody gets a kiss from her.



Brittany Tiplady is a part-time poet, a full-time Nasty Woman, and the co-founder of Loose Lips Magazine. She loves the indoors, fast wifi, collecting maps, and a generous glass of red wine. She is a self-proclaimed wizard of time management, and a notorious loud talker with a penchant for all things Internet.