Meet Badass Mom Kristen Philipkoski
Here, from her dreamy 70s abode, the inspiring mama dishes on style, work, and her alternative path to motherhood through fostering.
Tell us a bit about your family.
My husband and I have a 3-year-old girl, Frida and a 15-year-old boy, Joel. Frida came into our lives through foster care when she was 4 days old, and we adopted her 11 months later. A couple months after Frida arrived, we met her older brother Joel. He came to visit several times, and was so sweet with his sister. One thing led to another and he moved in with us in April! It has been a crazy and fun ride.
What’s it like having a teenager?
It’s intense. It’s also really fun—shockingly fun. I wasn’t sure fun was going to be one of the things that I’d be using to describe it—but he is hilarious. He’s extremely witty and quick with the comebacks.
What do you love most about raising a family in Pacifica, California?
The sunsets! And being able to walk to the beach. I love seeing the sunset every
evening—I get sad when I have to be out and miss it.
What is the story behind Frida’s name?
I’ve always been a big fan of Frida Kahlo, but I didn’t have it in my mind that I wanted to name my child Frida. It came to me while I was driving, but I was afraid to tell Kourosh (my husband) because I got so excited about it. I was afraid he wasn’t going to like it—but he immediately said,
“I love it.”
What about each of the kids are you thankful for?
The best part is how hilarious they are. Kids can drive you crazy, but they can be so fun and bring so much joy!
Why did you chose this path to motherhood?
I got a little bit of a late start. We started trying to get pregnant when I was 36, and when it wasn’t happening, we went the IVF route. When that didn’t pan out, we began looking into adoption. It took us about two years to finally make the decision to go the foster route and get thepaperwork all in and signed. Two weeks later, we got the call about Frida, who had been born four days earlier.
What advice would you give to a family that is looking into fostering a child?
Do it! So many children need safe, loving homes. It might feel very weird to imagine a kid who’s essentially a stranger suddenly in your home, but, trust me, you will feel more love than discomfort. We never expected to have a 15-year-old, but we’re so glad we opened up to the idea. (read Kristen’s post: 13 Things Foster Parents Wish Everyone Knew).
What was the toughest part of the whole experience?
During the months that led up to the adoption, her extended biological family tried to find her a home within the biological family a few times. And the foster system’s ultimate goal is reunification with the biological family. I understand why, but it was not easy to think about losing her.
What surprised you the most about adopting Frida?
How difficult it is to think about telling her she’s adopted. I’m adopted too, and I don’t remember not knowing that I was adopted, so I figured my mom talked to me about it at just the right time. But she doesn’t remember how or when she did it!
What advice would you give your pre-mama self about mamahood:
It’s going to be so much more wonderful than you think. Hurry up. Relax.
How has mamahood changed you?
The little things don’t get to me anymore because I don’t have any room in my brain for them.
Do you have any role model moms?
I would say my own mom. She adopted me (also through foster) when I was an infant and she sacrificed a lot to keep me because she went through a divorce right after she took me into her home. She’s a really strong woman. She was strict, and sometimes I didn’t like that, but I never doubted that she loved me or that she’d be there for me.
How has your life changed since becoming a mom?
Going out to dinner is much more of a luxury, and the freedom of laying on the couch and reading a book on a Sunday. That doesn’t really happen anymore. When I think about those times, I’m like, “Oh man, I did not know what I was in for.”
Tell us a bit about your work:
I’m a freelance writer and editor. My regular clients include Forbes, Independent Fashion Bloggers, Eat Sleep Denim and I write for my own blog, Stylenik, with all that leftover time I have.
What inspired you to start a style blog?
I was the science editor at Wired.com during the first dot-com boom. But I always had a thing for fashion, so I finally decided to leave my full-time gig and try out a new beat. Starting my own blog seemed like the best and quickest way to show my fashion writing abilities.What’s your best advice for those considering a freelance writing career?
Be persistent and learn to be comfortable with rejection. When I first started out, one out of every ten pitches would be accepted. It’s really good to be comfortable with rejection, I think, no matter what your career—persistence and being able to weather negative experiences is so important.
What are the most challenging parts of your day?
BEDTIME. I’m always tired myself by Frida’s bedtime, and it can be tough to be patient with all her stalling tactics in full force. If my husband’s not around, dinner time is a challenge because he usually cooks and no one seems to like to eat the same things and I’m not the best in the kitchen.
Who are the people in your life or in your community who support you?
Definitely my husband. When I left my full-time job in 2008 to go freelance, he was very encouraging and supportive. My BFF who lives in Brooklyn has been rooting for me since 1992 and I love her for it. I also have a small group of SF friends who I couldn’t live without. My local Bay Area mom’s group has also been a great resource. I love connecting with like-minded women and moms and I find them all very inspiring.
How has your style evolved since becoming a mom?
I hardly ever wear high heels anymore. Comfort is just much more of a priority than it ever was before.
What are you most looking forward to wearing this season?
I’m so excited about flared, cropped denim. It’s the ultimate nerdy highwater style and I love it.
What are your wardrobe staples:
High-waisted wide-leg jeans, concert tee shirts, Freda Salvador shoes. The 15-year-old is so mortified by my jeans. He’s like, “Why do they go out like that?” Also, kaftans.
Favorite thredUP find:
Frida’s wide-leg linen pants with elephants on them. I just recently discovered thredUP, but I will definitely be coming back because my first box was so cute.
What are you and Frida planning on wearing this Thanksgiving?
I like to keep it casual and comfortable. I’ll wear one of my vintage kaftans and a pair of flats. Frida will probably change five times throughout the day!
What’s the one thing you’re most excited for Thanksgiving this year?
Every year I try to make my grandmother’s stuffing. It was my favorite growing up, but it never turns out as good as when she used to make it. But I will try again this year!