When you see Jilian Reece, she’s usually surrounded by children and offering words of comfort, encouragement, and laughter with the mamas. Her three young boys are close by either by latch, carrier, or playing with friends. She’s the type of friend to think of you when she’s still recovering from giving birth, because this mama, she’s not laying in bed for weeks with a bag of ice on her bottom. No, she’s up mothering and helping others.
For a little background, when Jilian and I were in college together, she gave birth to her first born and was in class a week later. Then, when I was due in the middle of the semester a year after Jililan’s she-woman performance, I was reminded of her. She finished school and worked with a newborn. She pumped breastmilk in her car at Warf-Pickle for her baby. She’s always worked hard, and people love to be around her. Mothers, especially, are attracted to her. The herd of women and children surrounding her are fascinating. Watching them carry, feed, and tend to their babies as a group united together in their love of breastfeeding.
I asked her to share her feelings about her life balancing her family and the families of those she helps. Here’s what she had to say…
“My children are always my number one priority, so there are many times when other things just have to wait,” Jilian said. “Planning events and helping other mamas succeed is something I am passionate about, but never more than wiping snotty noses and singing babies to sleep. I spend lots of days at the park or the pool sending emails and making phone calls while my babies play. I’m always making sure they are gaining new experiences and learning while I am working, but I also designate time to unplug and focus completely on them.”
Her philosophy on raising children is that it definitely takes a village. “I tell everyone I know to find a mama tribe and get connected because moms need support. I couldn’t survive without my mama tribe,” she said. “My boys are as comfortable with my best friends as they are me and that gives me, and the other mamas too, the space to succeed professionally while we raise strong and independent children together.”
Ahhh. Best quote ever. I so relate to this. Being present in your children’s daily lives while working and helping your friends work while they’re raising their babies, as well, is so important.
Jilian stays busy hustling for her mama tribe and organizing events for BABE Breastfeeding Coalition, which was started by some pediatricians who saw a need for breastfeeding education and policy in our region. “Since I took over the coalition in 2010, we have focused more on the community, specifically how we can support, encourage, and promote breastfeeding in our region,” she said. “Our purpose is to show mamas that there are others of us out here supporting them and cheering them along their breastfeeding journey.”
Support is provided through casual and educational play dates at Village Pediatrics in Elizabethton. BABE hosts speakers to talk to the moms about baby and mommy-related issues/products to an audience of mothers and their multiple age ranged children. They also have community outreach events for families to be able to ask a panel of healthcare professionals and fellow moms about any questions or concerns they might be dealing with. At community events where small children will be in attendance, BABE pops open a baby rest stop so moms can conveniently and safely feed, change, and rest with their babies and toddlers.
“Jilian has helped me find a place in the community,” said friend and BABE volunteer, Gratia Cash. “The support I receive from her and BABE has given me the confidence to meet my breastfeeding goals. I’ve also been grateful enough to give back and support new breastfeeding moms and create everlasting connections.”
Jilian believes the reason why fellow mamas are drawn to her is because she’s currently living the life of young children, so she can relate with her friends struggles. “I’m living this same crazy breastfeeding, babywearing, homeschooling, so exhausting- but so amazing, life right along beside them,” Jilian said. “That probably does more than any actual talent or education that I have.”
If you would like more information about how to participate and join in on the booby fun, Jilian Reece, can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 423-342-8008. Visit their website or like them on Facebook.