Folks We Love with Jessica Coulter
Tell us a little bit about your journey and how you’ve come to arrive here.
Two years ago we manifest destiny’d to Los Angeles from Brooklyn, NY with an 11-month-old in tow. I had returned back to work as a creative at an advertising agency in Manhattan but soon found myself crying in the lactation room to the soundtrack of the weird pump noise because I was only seeing my baby for an hour in the morning and sometimes even missing her bedtime at night. So we decided to make a change that brought us closer to family in LA and Portland and James Franco and kale smoothies and Teslas and bohemian dresses and botox and tacos and botox tacos! And thanks to my working at the dopest agency run by the kindest humans in the game, I got to keep my job so I work full time east coast hours from my home on the west coast and care for my daughter in the afternoons until her bedtime. At first I was very new yorkery about this sunny place, but thanks to some sweet new mama friends and the constant smile on my daughter’s face, LA is starting to weird me out less and less. Progress!
Who’s in your family? Ages? Names?
Cyrus the husband (30-something)
Minnow the daughter (2)
Walter the dog (11)
How did you choose your kids names?
My daughter’s name is Minnow Eugene. I have always been drawn to names that are also nouns. It took us a while to sort through all of the nouns available to us—chair. beret. jellybean. There are a lot. But when my husband mentioned Minnow, we fell instantly in love. She was also running a bit small in the belly so it felt like she was trying to name herself. And Eugene is a small college town in Oregon where my husband and I met 15 years ago. We also got engaged on campus and had our first “so, like, when do we want to have kids and stuff” talk. The answer was later. Way later.
And here we are.
Creative Director at BBDO, an advertising agency in NY, working on brands like Snickers, Foot Locker, FedEx and National Partnership, a non-profit fighting for National paid leave policy.
What’s on your manifest board?
If I had one, it would be glossy magazine cut outs of the following: Shack Burger, crinkle cut cheese fries and black and white shake from Shake Shack, aquotable from The Big Lebowski, one of those mermaid tails you can wear into a pool, Lin-Manuel Miranda, a pony.
Tell us some of your most loved ways to spend the day with your clan?
At our Encino Hills home eating pancakes, taking a “swim” in our hot tub, lying on a quilt in the backyard with my tiny gal and Walter the dog reading books or blowing bubbles while papa smokes various meats.Eating said meats. Making popcorn and introducing Minnow to a classic musical like Mary Poppins. We also enjoy hiking up to the Nike Missile Site near our house or taking a drive to picnic at Westward beach in Malibu. But we keep our weekends as unscheduled and as un-ruled-by-birthday-parties as possible. If you ask our daughter where her favorite place in the world is, she says “mine home”.
What are some silly/fun things that the kids do or say?
Minnow’s first word was “wow”. Watching her see the wow has put the wow back into my life. I mean the world is actually VERY WOW, isn’t it?
As a 2-year-old, Minnow likes to make up long vocabulary words. A recent one was “splashilation”. When I asked her what it meant she said“Splashilation means you want something. And what you want…is splashilation”. And we have an organ from the 70’s she likes to play and she calls the sheet music her “commissions”.
The thing that breaks my heart into a fafillion pieces is that Minnow started saying “I love you than more anything”. So every night her papa and I cycle through all the things we “love you than more” to each other. The other night she said she loved me “than more traffic”.
When you were a teenager what did you dream of? Do things look different?
17 year old Leonardo DiCaprio and yeah things look different.
My teenage years were spent being a cheerleader on the outside, poet on the inside. And that hasn’t changed much. As for dreams, I grew up watching sketch comedy shows like Carol Burnett and Saturday Night Live and my dream was to write and perform sketch comedy. So my teenage self would be very pleased to learn that I have my own sketch comedy team under my belt and that my day job is to write jokes and then someone gives me actual money for it.
What are some things you really believe in?
I believe in the power of:
a bold lip and a lil back-combing
the Church of Bathtub
a yearly girls weekend that you never ever ever skip
And as Huey Lewis and the subsequent News said best – The power of love. Especially the love I have for my little family.
Where do your passions lie?
All the places. My passion is all the passions. And I feel passionate about making room for them by maintaining balance between the working and the living and remembering that I am working to live, not the other way around.
One consistent passion I’ve always had is for childbirth. I entered college pre-med, however I soon got diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and would spend months at a time in the hospital undergoing surgery during my college years and couldn’t bare the thought of my career spent there as well. I switched majors but the passion never left. After having the honor of being in the room while my best friend gave birth, I thought I might become a doula. However after I had the natural, unmediated childbirth of my dreams followed by an early breastfeeding experience that was the stuff of nightmares—I was called to becoming a certified lactation educator. And because I already have a day job that does everything I need it to do, I am able to be of service to my community free of charge. It takes a village and not everybody has $500 to pay the village lactation consultant. I breastfed my daughter until she was 2 ½ and after the initial pain and my nipple literally kind of partially falling off (ok, that’s dramatic, it’s more like a tiny chip on the rim of a teacup you bring out only for special occasions and also the teacup is my boob) it was the most rewarding and coziest experience of my life and I love helping other moms get there.
Has your relationship with your other half changed since having kids?
So, there’s this sound our TV makes when you turn it off. Like, a “doo-dooo-dooo” electronic beep sound. About a month into having a newborn, we had finally gotten her to sleep in the swing so we could watch a show! On TV! We’re normal now! But then my husband went and turned the TV off and it made The Sound. I stood up and said “seeeeeriously?!” in the angriest, most condescending tone ever uttered by an adult woman and then my head spun around like the exorcist.
So yes, our relationship got a little weird at first mostly due to lack of sleep. But now that our daughter is older and we got a new TV that turns off without making a big deal about itself, we are better. Actually, we are better than better. We end every day lying in bed looking at photos of our girl and quoting funny things she did and said that day. And we go out on a date at least once a week, always taking the “date night car” (the smaller car he commutes in) and always kicking it off by playing that horribly awesome Big Sean song “I Don’t F*ck With You” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZaJYDPY-YQ ) just to feel like grown ass people again. I recommend this.
And we still try to maintain some parts of our pre-kiddo life. My husband and I are both advertising creatives that work at different agencies but once a year we collaborate creatively on an elaborate holiday card. We create the concept, work together on the costuming, hair, makeup and props and then his insanely talented photographer brother Dylan Coulter and brother’s wife Alexis Coulter shoot it. This will be our seventh year.
See ‘em here: http://jessicacoulter.com/Coulter-Holiday-Card
What are some of your favorite life lessons you’ve grown to love?
Thinking about doing something all the time is a lot harder than just doing it. So I have a personal mottoone of my first bosses and current best friends established: Think it. Do it.
And my grandma once told me “Don’t let him see you with your curlers in.” And I’ve always maintained a good amount of mystery in that regard. I would avoid putting deodorant on or plucking my eyebrows in front of my husband. Of course that was before I pulled up to the Upper East Side hospital in a cab that one fateful November night, literally ran into the first emptyhospital room I saw, ripped my clothes off, climbed up onto the steely table naked and pushed a human body out of my human body. That night—he saw me with my curlers in.
But there are still some efforts made.
What do you wish you could’ve told yourself when you were a teenager?
The bullies are the broken ones, not you. Also, don’t quit piano.
What do you find most challenging about being somebody’s parent?
My biggest struggle is finding a way to relax at the end of the day and not carry the tension that comes from loving someone this much and just general parenting tension from one day into the next. It seems that a lot of moms wash this post-bedtime tension away with…can you guess?…wine! BECAUSE WINE. Wine emoji wine emoji wine emoji. Mommy needs her mommy juice. Which is rad for moms who enjoy the occasional glass like a normal. However, I gave up alcohol a year ago in an effort to be more productive in the evenings and in a search to find other ways to deal and socialize. I really wanted to become one of those very centered meditating yoga women who wear multiple wrist bangles and smell of assorted essential oils. But it hasn’t really taken yet. I do read a book a week and am always writing. But I still sometimes have a string of days where tension builds and builds and it follows me to work and into my marriage and it’s dumb and I don’t like it.
What do you want your kids to learn about the world?
When you see terrifying things on the news, look for the helpers. Focus on the helpers.
When it feels like you’re surrounded by assholes, just assume that everybody’s mom just died and treat them accordingly.
When a moment feels stressful take comfort in knowing that nobody will remember it in 100 years.
When you don’t ask, the answer is always no.
You are enough.
*I am still working on all of the above.
What are 4 things you can’t live without as a parent?
Baby Carrier: Minnow is almost 3 and I’m only 4’11” so it’s starting to be, like, who’s wearing who? But I love to travel with her and I wouldn’t want to navigate an airport without it.
Fanny Pack: Hands-free 90’s dreamin’ every day so I can chase a toddler without constantly misplacing my shit.
Crib: I’m considering building it out so we can keepher in it until she is a tween.
Netflix: a Brooklyn transplant’s best friend in LA!Literally. The show people are my friends.