• Carmen Graham

Real Moms: Isis Arias is the queen of pivots.

Updated: Jun 22, 2020

Every month, we introduce you to a woman who is doing it all-while mothering. And the main catch every time is that they have to keep it real. That comes easily to Isis–one of the most genuine, hard-working and also tender and loving people I know. Isis and I worked together on one of the most massive projects in probably both of our careers (at the time, God knows she only gets better and better with time). And fun fact: Isis was one of the first people I told I was pregnant, before my mom, sister, even Mike. She's that person you can always rely on to keep it all the way real in just the way you need to hear it. Read on for more on this amazing woman.

If you had to give yourself titles, what would they be (Wife, mom, executive, daughter, etc.):

Wife, mother, professional, friend, sister, daughter, HUMAN.

Talk to us about your family at home. Who’s the squad?

The crib is full - myself, Hubs, a 2YO boy, 6YO girl, and 60+YO Dad in the crib - and another one (surprise!) joining us in Aug.

What has quarantine looked like for you? Resigned from a massive role where you built A LOT, started a new role at a startup, with a husband on the front lines in NYC, homeschooling, with a toddler, pregnant AND keeping up your social media cooking content. Talk to us a little bit about all that.

It has been the most interesting time these days. I had made a major career shift literally as this pandemic was taking off, people were leaving their offices etc, and it was super challenging to try and adjust to home, work, homeschool etc. My husband works in hospitals as a Nurse Anesthetist so its been an interesting journey supporting him working out of home, keeping childcare for the kids (because shout out to working moms with kids under school age: IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to get a full work day done and actively be a full parent) and trying to stay healthy overall. I've always cooked and shared socially just for fun but that got turned up a bit when friends started a channel on Twitch to support COVID Relief efforts and so we started a cooking show format - my daughter decided to join and it's been a lot of fun welcoming friends into our kitchen (virtually!) on Sunday.

At this point, it's become a great time to rethink everything - how does work look for the future? What's the new phase going to look like? We hopefully won't have to fight for flexibility as parents as hard as it had been in the past to negotiate - what become our new standards for how we work, live, learn, etc.

This month, we’re talking about prioritizing good things. With everything going on in this world right now, what does that mean for you as a person?

I've been super aware and conscious of my energy levels and how much I take in - especially in pregnancy, beyond making sure you're eating right, staying active for your physical self, the mental / emotional side is so key - so I've been meditating, journaling, etc. With everything happening with COVID and the civil unrest with all of the recent violence that's turned into protesting - we have been supportive but still mostly staying home. I've become super mindful of how much news and social media I take in as well. I push to find a moment of joy in each day, even when its rough - and definitely practice mindfulness and gratitude daily to just even be aware as to where I'm at currently.

Even the small things that we enjoy can become burdensome - I love cooking but having it be a daily multiple time a day chore (and the cleaning that comes with it!) it can be incredibly tiring. So I really just make sure that there’s time for the things that I want to work on creatively, carve out time to dream, journal, write etc. And then not feel guilty when its just movie and snuggle time and my phone has been left in another room face down.

How about as a mother, what are your priorities for your kids?

I think just keeping them healthy and happy has been the biggest priority. Then, its engagement - Education has been such a different level of teaching with the homeschooling and virtual learning. With the kids at different ages, my daughter has online classes, but my son needs different types of engagement - he can do some games and virtual circle times, but its all about him exploring the world around him - ABCs, Colors, Counting. We have them help out around the house. We read lots of books. We don’t avoid screen time totally, but we do create some boundaries around it and are mindful about what they take in. I think in general I want to make sure they’re set up well for the future - that they have opportunities to grow, learn, travel - that they can live in safe environments, that they are culturally aware, celebratory and sensitive. Mostly, my goal is to raise amazing global human beings. I want them to be good people. I want them to grow up and be people I like and would want to hang around. So that’s my main priority.

Who are some women who inspire you? As a mother?

My mom’s obviously the one that’s imparted a lot of independence and responsibility that’s allowed me to thrive in the world. I have a crew of “big sisters” - mentors, old coworkers turned sister-girls, a bevy of “aunties”, and just amazing women that I look up to - but I also have some girlfriends that had their kids before me and I really admired how they were intentional in the rearing of their children. They read books (!), drink water (!), have manners (!) eat vegetables (!). My girl Melly gave me this book early on called Simplicity Parenting that even spoke to the environments we have for children and not overloading “stuff” and physical things in their spaces so that we’re mindful of how much processing children’s brains do. I have amazing mom-friends that share resources, from my college girlfriends, to old friends with new babies and new moms I’ve met over the years. I read a lot as well - things that I share with others, and I think the community (the “village” as I always call it) - is so key. We all need each other. This is not an exact science and parenting comes to us from our own experiences and what we see and want - so I think having mothers to share, vent, cry, lament and celebrate with is key.

When you think about balance and the conversation of “having it all” where do you stand?

Some women hate the whole thing.

I think you can have it all, but not always at the same time. Oftentimes I referenced that if I was killing it in one area, that I was totally failing in another. I think at the height of some great professional work and visibility - I kept getting feedback like - “you’re doing everything and you’re killing it!” and I’m like, yeah, I’ve been on the road, and winning at work, but I keep missing bedtime and I’m exhausted and drained when I get home. I’ve been ordering groceries via an app way before it was the cool (or essential!) thing to do. Who’s cooking dinner? This takeout delivery that I ordered before I got on the train home.

So yes sure - I’ve gotten to the point where we have a family and a home life, a home, and love - and yes, professional growth - but then how well am I taking care of myself? Do I have time to schedule in yoga and a workout or do I need to prep for this next meeting? I think its tough to be fully 100% at ALL things. Sometimes I’ve just had a day where a lot of my brainspace went to being creative that by the time I get in the kitchen I’m like, its Pizza night again. LOL.

Women can have it all, sure - finding that balance of what “all” or “enough” looks like to you is very individual. There are new ways and perspectives for us to do it - career, family, strong loving relationship, “the bag” (aka that bomb salary / cash flow), personal fulfillment etc - but it may look different for everyone.

What resources do you turn to when you need support or inspiration?

I have very strong friend groups, some that are super supportive and life-giving, that ground me and keep me laughing. I love reading inspirational books and quotes, love music and entertainment. Spaces of creativity: Art, Music, Culture are always so inspiring to me. I used to love going to different types of parties because even if I didn’t understand or fully immerse in the environment, just seeing people really engaged in their lifestyles authentically is inspiring.

Meditation and mindfulness programs and spiritual leadership or healing spaces and various workshops have always been a safe support space when I’m working through things that I feel need more guidance and support. And Acupuncture. HAHA. My holistic doc was always a great space to get some treatment to help ease an ache or pain from massage to cupping, or even a nutritional balancing in the forms of supplement smoothie blends.

How do you prioritize what YOU need to fill your cup? Some women schedule it out, others take where they can get it, and others think it’s somewhat of a myth. You?

I took my VERY FIRST SOLO INTERNATIONAL trip this year. (Shout out to my husband for supporting that). At first I thought it was totally selfish to ask for as a Christmas gift, but I realize that I really needed it. It meant being able to not worry about taking the time, how the kids would do, etc.

In everyday life I try to just make sure that I carve out time. It means sometimes I have to let them play while I cut out meditation time in the morning. Sometimes it's pushing hard to get them in bed (or at least in their room) by 8PM so I can have the evening to do whatever it is that I want. Sometimes it means that I schedule a work break and take calls while I walk around the neighborhood if the kids can be with another adult. It doesn't’ always work, but I notice that when I let it go too long, it does compound so I definitely have to make the time.

I also pushed to keep childcare in home - its not a decision everyone is comfortable with but I knew I wouldn’t be able to work from home, manage a household, keep everyone fed and happy without support. That’s been a major key - even if its only a few hours to keep the kids engaged and cared for, that allows me to handle the other things that the house needs, so that I have a teensy bit more time for self later on.

When you turn around and look at these early years with your kids–the under 10 years–what do you hope they remember? What do you think you’ll look back at and laugh (or cry or both)?

I just hope they remember having this time with their parents. My kid actually said she would want to go back to school - to a classroom with other kids - and she’s been pretty solid this whole time, so I hope that if she remembers anything that she feels that she had our full attention, that we were here when she needed, and she always felt cared and supported for. I do believe that you’re building a future relationship with your kid at every age, and I hope we stay close over the years.

My son is 2, I doubt he’ll have any clue of this timeframe, but he’s already super attached, so I think his pushing for his independent moments will be things that stick with him.

I’ll definitely look back and appreciate how lucky we were, even with the shortcomings and challenges we faced, even with all of the life changing moments outside our walls, that we were able to stick it out together. I will laugh at all the moments where the kids kept me sane, and cry about when I felt alone and insane, even surrounded by people - but I think overall, I will have been grateful for the moments - even when I’m so used to being so busy all the time, that this was a giant push to SIT STILL.

Parting thought for moms out there who are in it right now:

YOU ARE AMAZING. You are full of magic, and don't you forget it. Beyond carrying or birthing, whether you’re an OG in the game or if you’re just getting started, if you are in a child's life taking care of them regularly (or preparing to!), paying attention to them, staying present, You are a SIGNIFICANT part of their life and their world. Your impact on this world is physically manifesting - so remember that on this journey. You’ve given the world something special. How can you show up now for yourself? How can you celebrate you being a full person beyond all the sacrifice? How can you raise them to be whole, compassionate human beings? Give yourself some grace and some credit, Mama, you're doing a great job.


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