Folks We Love with Mayan Montanari-Perez, mama of four
Tell us a little bit about your journey and how you've come to arrive here.
Hi Your Zen Mama community! My name is Mayan Montanari-Perez, i'm a mama of 4! Yes, they're all mine....I grew up on the Beautiful, East End of Long Island, New York, I come from a rather large family and grew up within 10 minutes of the majority of my cousins, we were all raised together, the phrase “it takes a village” came from us (just kidding!), it was a beautiful way to grow up.
I come from a big, loving, always in each other's business, Venezuelan/Italian/American family! Mamahood has always been my biggest goal and priority in life, I had many different ideas and interests growing up, but the only one that was constant, was my desire to be a mother. I took a much different path from my peers and became a mother at 20 years old. 11 years and 4 kids later and here we are.... riding the waves of our blissfully, chaotic family life
Who's in your family? Ages? Names?
The Mama, Mayan, 31 years old
The Papa, Jamie, 34 years old
My Biggest Boy, Miloe Reef, 11 Years old
My Biggest Middlest Boy, Zephyr Joshua, 6.5 Years old
My Littlest Middlest Boy, Arrow Lindsay, 3 Years old
My Littlest, and only Girl, Sybella Margot, 9 Months
Before Sybi came along, it was a prerequisite that all new animals must be female! We all needed some balance to the mad amounts of testosterone!
2 Dogs, Mama Cass and Roslyn Rosebud
1 Kitty, Magnolia
How did you choose your kids names?
I believe heavily in the signs that the universe gives us and I try to always be open enough to receive them. We didn’t find out the sex of our babies, except for the last one
MILOE REEF: I had a dream when I was 15, that i had a baby in my parents home, it was a boy, and I named him Miloe. I remember waking up and thinking, “Wow! I most certainly do not want a baby anytime soon but I have to remember that name!” Fast forward, not as long as I imagined, 5 years later, and I had my first baby, in my parents home, he was a boy, and he was most definitely Miloe! His middle name came from my partners love of the water, being an avid surfer and sailor and my love of old fashioned nicknames! We also loved the fact that a Coral Reef has the ability to be its own successful ecosystem.
ZEPHYR JOSHUA: Being a water loving family, we wanted a name that was prominent in the nautical world. When i became pregnant again, Zephyr showed up everywhere, Jamie saw it on boats, one day I heard a child in the local library called Zephyr. The name kept presenting itself, and we decided, if we had another boy, his name would be Zephyr. It just so happens to mean, a gentle west wind, the ideal wind for sailing and surfing. Our due date was around the Spring equinox and the Zephyr wind is the wind that brings Spring. He was showing us the whole time what his name was! His middle name, Joshua, is after a dear, dear friend who suddenly passed away 4 months before he was born.
ARROW LINDSAY: We were driving around central Vermont, having a family exploring adventure, I was about 5 months pregnant and we were trading ideas of baby names. I had Arrow in the back of my head as my favorite but was hesitant to say it and have it shot down. Turns out Jamie loved it! PHEW! Crisis averted! We knew it was his perfect name, when his birthing day arrived and he came shooting out fast as an arrow! His middle name, Lindsay, is in honor of his paternal Grandfather, who passed away the year prior to Arrow being born. Arrow and his Grand Dad also share the same initials, ALG.
SYBELLA MARGOT: As I mentioned earlier, she was the only baby we found out the sex. From the day we found out, she was Ophelia. Then she was born, we looked at her and that just wasn't her name. Our whole community of family and friends got involved, throwing names out there. Jamie, actually pulled out a baby name book I bought 10 years ago, when pregnant with our first, and started looking through it. I had two requests, 1) her name had to have an “olden day” feel, like she could have been born in another era and 2) I really wanted some kind of familial aspect to it. He came across Sybella, which means, Prophetess or an Oracle. The idea of our daughter being born in a time when the rights of women are yet again being questioned, we wanted her to have a constant reminder of how extraordinary and powerful she is! Her name also honors many amazing women in our lives that have names starting with the letter “S” and my great grandmother and 2 beloved aunts have variations of the name Isabel. Speaking of univeral signs, I recently found an old notebook of mine from when i was pregnant with my first baby, i haven’t looked at it in 10 plus years. Inside i found a page of baby name combinations, the first girl name I had written down was Sybella. It was meant to be! Her middle name, Jamie found as well, he was on a role this time!! Margot means Pearl, Pearl was the middle name I had always wanted for my someday daughter but had let it go when my bestie gave birth to my God Daughter Pearl.
We bounce often between our hometown of Sag Harbor NY, were my partner is an Estate Manager and Designer and Central Vermont!
Full time, Stay at Home Mama, Magical Mamahood Blogger, Waldorf Education enthusiast and soon to be, Early Childhood teacher trainee, Doula and home birth supporter, Kids Yoga Teacher, occasional Cupcake Maker, and Professional Baby Snuggler!
What’s on your manifest board?
I don’t have a physical board but my mental manifest board consists of images of Maui, the beaches, surfing, the aquatic life, the amazing tropical fruits and veggies, mountains, bamboo forest! AHHH!!! That list goes on and on! Such magic!!!!!! It’s our Place, we have family there and been there quite a few times. The last couple months have been devoted to researching, planning, and beginning preparations to make the move there in the next few years. A big thing for us, with having a large family, is the ability to be more self-sustainable and grow the bulk of our food year round. Working towards having a symbiotic relationship with our planet, take care of her and live off the land. My kids in nature, swimming, playing outside in the sunshine, climbing trees, without having to freak out about ticks and chiggers, if you don't know about tick born diseases, they are debilitating but that's for another chat!
Tell us some of your most loved ways to spend the day with your clan?
Hands down, it’s on the beach, my boys joyfully playing in the sand and water…harmoniously TOGETHER! There is always the minimum amount of bickering when we are on the beach. Anyone with multiple children knows, parenting has a lot to do with diffusing and redirecting the sometimes constant bickering. Their Papa surfing and snorkeling with them. Nothing greater in life then seeing one of your kids work at something with such determination, like swimming, and see the pure joy on their face when it all clicks! And trying to get little sister NOT to eat the entire beach worth of sand! We are beach people through and through.
What are some silly/fun things that the kids do or say?
First one that comes to mind is our 3 year old, Arrow, has boycotted calling me “Mama” and will only call me by my first name “Mayan”. I have tried everything to get him back to “Mama” with little success, I worked hard for that title and I’m not ready to let it go…just yet! Another is, everyone in the family will try to make Arrow laugh, and he will just look at us with a straight face and say “Not funny.” That kid is a TRIP!
Zephyr has just found the word “literally,” he LITERALLY uses it every 3 seconds! It makes him feel like such a cool dude to use such a big word.
Miloe thinks its hysterical to come up to me and say “Hey Mama, I have some bad news….you’re really not going to like it….I’m almost as tall as you…” but then kind of tries to make me feel better by saying “Don’t worry Mama, Don’t worry…I’m still your first baby.” The sass of a pre-teen. (enter the eye rolls here)
When you were a teenager what did you dream of? Do things look different?
I dreamed of being a fashion designer, an alternative healer, a midwife, a teacher…so many things…so many interests. But I ALWAYS knew I’d be a mother, that never, ever waivered. Things look very different, I thought I’d have a set career before having children, I did the opposite. I started having babies young and now I’m solidifying the career. Having children first came with its own challenges but that is life and my children are the biggest blessing I have and will ever receive!
What are some things you really believe in?
Mutual respect and partnership, equality. The importance of family, the importance of taking a risk every now and then and getting out of your comfort zone. Following your bliss. Be flexible, don't take yourself too seriously or getting stuck in thinking things need or should be a certain way. I believe in the importance of educating yourself. Not wallowing in regret and mistakes. Its human nature to make mistakes and to fail, learn from them and move on. That is how you grow and change. My motto is “You have a day to feel sorry for yourself and get back to living your life!” Your thoughts have a lot of power, take all that energy of feeling bad and flip it! I believe in the importance of extra support and to never feel ashamed to ask when you need it. ALWAYS, ALWAYS stay true to your authentic self! And of course with 4 kids laughing as much as possible and black tea, LOTS AND LOTS of black tea.
Where do your passions lie?
Homebirth and gentle birthing: Homebirth is definitely not for everyone but it has been the most incredible experience for my family and I. How we welcome little beings into the world for the first time is so important and a great responsibility, education is key.
Prenatal and postpartum support: AHH! Postpartum especially can be so forgotten and it is such a raw, vulnerable, new experience.
Alternative Health Care: essential oils, homeopathy, herbal tinctures, etc. We use essential oils Daily! From keeping colds away, to calming the kids down, to helping work thru emotional challenges, to combating coughs or tooth aches, to keeping ticks of you, the list goes on and on!
Cooking/Baking: I love putting flavors together and creating new, delicious treats with healthy twists.Arrow is a bit of a picky eater, so I’ve had to become very creative about how he gets his greens and nutrients. Smoothies are our best friend! This kid would live on toast with butter and apples, if I let him!
Waldorf Education and simplicity parenting: Parenting and being around children is really one of my biggest passions. Whenever I do get the rare moment to myself, its quite often filled with researching and educating myself on different parenting methods or how kids grow emotionally, physically, etc. The link between physical changes and emotional, mental changes is really interesting to me.
Supporting: Whether its a friend having trouble with their toddler or a stranger from Instagram asking for fertility advice. I just love being a supporter for people and sharing tips and my experiences thus far, what's worked or not worked for me.
Has your relationship with your other half changed since having kids?
OHHHH YEA, for sure! Jamie and I have known each other since childhood but didn’t start dating until I was almost 19 and he 23. Everything happened fast, We had a very short courtship and became pregnant 6 months in. We were babies ourselves, our first real relationship, we’ve basically grown up together and raised a child at the same time. Now that I am 31 and he 34, I can say it has been FAR from easy, I have learned a lot about myself and about how to be in a partnership with another, very different person. Children can sometimes add an extra stress to that and to be honest, it has at times. But in those times, We are always given opportunities to grow and learn more about ourselves. We love each other very deeply and fully, and we have chosen each other to weather the storms and enjoy the sunshine together! For us, it takes hard work and open communication, non-judgement and unconditional love, boundaries and much needed date nights (still consistently working on that last one)!
What are some of your favorite life lessons you’ve grown to love? (even if learning them at the time was hard)
I recently went to one of my childhood friends weddings, it was an outdoor wedding and the forecast was 90% rain. The wedding ended up being beautiful and sunny and amazing! At the reception the father of the bride came over to say “Hello” and he told me about the rain forecast, He said “You know, I checked the weather last night and it said 90% chance for rain….I thought to myself, “I’m going with the 10% sunshine!”
Even in the darkest, most challenging times in life, there will always be the 10% chance of sunshine. That little blip of positivity, of sparkle, sometimes it's hard to see but if we stay as open minded as possible, we may just find it. We may not understand why things happen the way they do and things may feel chaotic and uncontrollable but what we can have control over is our thoughts and what we send our energy to. It is not an easy task, for some it comes easier than others, but we can do our best. We can know when to lean on another for support.
What do you wish you could’ve told yourself when you were a teenager?
Be yourself no matter what, never compromise your true nature to conform to others. We are all made so different and our differences are truly what make us beautiful!
What do you find most challenging about being somebody’s parent?
Being the mother of four, very different personalities. Everyone needs something and it’s always different but it’s usually all at the same time!
What do you want your kids to learn about the world?
The world is huge and small and beautiful and ugly and glorious and painful. We are in a very strange time in our history, there are a lot of scary things happening but there is also so much beauty and love. I want my children to know they can always find the beauty in the world, even when it seems non-existent. It is my job to teach them the importance of finding balance in all things, the greatest lesson in everyone’s life really.
What are 4 things you can’t live without as a parent?
1 SUPPORT: Family and partner support! It takes a village to raise children and if you have the ability to have the extra support and help, take it!
2 LIQUIDS: Black Tea, lemon water, and Kombucha
3 JOY: Singing and giggles, it's essential to find the joy in everything, even when your toddler is tantruming because He can’t “see the butter” on his toast!
4 SELF CARE/alone time: I don’t get it as often as I’d like but in order for me to be the best parent I can be, I need my moments alone. Like right now, I’m currently at the library typing away, drinking a cup of tea…CHILD FREE! (and its glorious!) And when I return home to my babies, I’ll be just a tiny bit rejuvenated.