Part 3 in our Q&A Series with Wright Mommy and Me Class Leaders
Jennifer McNamara, MFT has been leading Wright Mommy and Me classes since 2012. Jennifer also has a private practice in West Los Angeles where she conducts mental health assessments for infants and toddlers in foster care and provides training on the clinical treatment of children ages 0-5. She will be leading new Mommy and Me classes at Mother Nurture Center in Redondo Beach!
What is your favorite part about leading Wright Mommy groups?
One of my favorite things is getting to see little newborn babies grow into walking and talking toddlers! It is truly such an honor to see the babies grow and develop right before my eyes. I also really love watching the energy of the group shift over time. The first day of group the room is filled with moms who are exhausted, haven’t been out of the house much (if at all), and are questioning so many parenting decisions they make. Over time I see these same moms grow into moms who are bonding with each other, getting some sleep, making thoughtful decisions and becoming comfortable with not always knowing what the “right” way to parent. It never gets old watching this transition.
Do you have a favorite memory from teaching?
I have so many! One thing I always love is when a mom gets a good night sleep for the first time after implementing some of our sleep strategies. Many tears of joy and relief have been shed after getting a good night’s sleep for the first time.
A more specific favorite memory – a mom in one of my groups became concerned because her baby wasn’t rolling over like the other babies in group. As she began expressing her concern out loud, the baby rolled over right then and there! We all laughed hysterically and the ongoing joke became, “just tell the group your baby isn’t doing something and sure enough they will show you that they can.”
What is the most common discussion you hear in your groups?
One of the most common discussions I hear is “how do I balance it all?” There is an ongoing myth of “The Supermom” who can climb the corporate ladder, be present for all of her children’s special moments, keep an immaculate home and never lose the romance in her marriage. This often sets moms up to feel that they are constantly failing in some aspect of their life. We do specifically address these concerns in our topic “Myths of Motherhood” and “Finding Balance” and I can almost see the relief on their faces as they hear that other moms are facing the same challenges. This is one of those discussions that doesn’t have one clear solution but rather is an ongoing practice of being mindful of what balance means in our lives.
Outside of Wright Mommy, what do you like to do for fun?
I love to play tennis, go to the beach, and take our dog Eddie for hikes. I also love to laugh! My husband and I record Saturday Night Live every week and we love going to comedy shows when we get the chance. One of my favorite things is taking my son Mac on walks to the park and along the Bluffs in our Westchester neighborhood. He really seems to love being outside so sometimes we will even just sit on the back porch and look at the trees or flowers in our backyard.
How is each Mommy and Me group different? Or the same?
I find that similar themes come up in almost every group such as work/life balance, meeting developmental milestones, and of course sleep regressions. However, what always amazes me is the unique dynamic of every group! Some groups are very chatty, bond immediately, and want to ask each other for advice, while other groups are a bit more reserved and want as much information/research I can give them on the topic presented. I always do my best to adjust my style to the unique needs of the group and this challenges me and helps me grow as a leader.