Michelle Bilodeau is no stranger to features, interviews, or media in general, having written for the likes of Canada’s finest publication roster – Flare, Fashion Magazine, and The Kit.
She now runs her own Online Publication that focuses on sustainable fashion, beauty, and lifestyle: The Eco Edit [the-eco-edit.com]. She’s an ambassador for Leafly, making her a staunch Cannabis advocate, and she remains a regular contributor at cbc.ca, flare.com and Hudson’s Bay’s blog: The Point [thepoint.hbc.com].
This mama lives in the the West End Toronto hood of Bloorcourt, with hubby, Matt and one-year-old Emmeline.
I popped by to see her gorgeous fam and interrogate Michelle about all things motherhood in hopes that her words could inspire, relate, and once again remind us that we are all in it together, and no-one is actually perfect. (Plus we wanted to know what’s what in the world of beauty and skincare since this little lady has been fortunate enough to have tried and reviewed basically ALL the goods).
1. Was having babies always part of your plan?
When I was younger I was pretty adamant that I didn’t want children. Reflecting back, I think I was pushing back against the idea what women HAVE to have children. Fuck that, right? I remember getting in arguments with my male friends that women were not just made for breeding purposes. As I got older, I started to wonder about having a baby, and slowly began to realize that I would always wonder. My husband wanted children, so it was a decision that we made together.
2. What was the hardest adjustment after becoming a mom?
The hardest thing for me was the identity shift of going from a professional, independent (AND PRETTY SELFISH!) woman, to being seen as a mother. I can happily say that I am now comfortable in both roles, but it took a while for me to adjust. Most of my arguments with Matt used to stem from me wanting to be seen as his equal and as an independent person, mostly because I worried our relationship wouldn’t last (talk about insecure!). Now I am more comfortable in us being a team and a family.
3. What’s something you wish you were told when navigating early motherhood?
I wish someone had told me more about maternity leave benefits as a freelancer/business owner. The system is a bit messed up in Canada, and in some ways I feel like I am still getting back on my feet financially. If I were to apply for benefits, I would have had to pay into them for the year before the baby was even born, and only then I would have gotten $1,800 per month, AND I would not have been able to work to help supplement those meagre earnings. It’s pretty fucked up that men don’t have to put their careers and earning potential on hold as much as we do.
4. What’s been your biggest take away so far?
Since she was born, I have learned that a) I can keep a fucking human alive!! And that is pretty amazing. And b) to give zeros fucks what anyone else thinks regarding how I raise my child. We went to Europe on vacation in July, and they are wayyyyy more relaxed than we are about bed times etc, and it helped me realize that I know what works for her and no one else should tell me how to bring her up.
5. What was your best and worst moment in motherhood?
My best moment was travelling through Europe with her. I was so in the zone, of relaxing and enjoying my family time, that I could have travelled for another two weeks. I did not want to come home! My worst, was probably when, at about six months, she pooped while in her car seat and I was so worried about it staining the seat (we just moved her into a new Clek) that I didn’t notice that she had poop on her hands. Which then went directly in her mouth, because she’s a baby!!
6. If we offered to babysit tonight and send you off on a date with your man, where would you go?
Probably the movies. We used to love to go see films at the TIFF theatre and haven’t been in ages.
7. We’re all about self love – what’s your fave way to treat yourself and make sure you’re always 100%?
When I was up all night breastfeeding I always made sure to treat myself in some way, whether that was applying a hydrating face serum or a moisturizing hand lotion. Now I try to carry that through and I often do face masks a few nights each week. And my Saturday morning spin class always kicks my ass and helps me stay in shape.
8. In theory, we should practice what we preach. What are some hard rules, parenting philosophies around your home?
We keep saying that we want to curb our swearing. But shit, it’s hard!! And I try not to talk about my body in a negative way, which is also fucking hard. I know Emmeline is going to get so much body imagery from outside of the house, I really want her dad and I to be more concerned about health, than a specific weight, but we are both bad at it. We’re trying to get better.
9. Cliche as it is.. what are a few solid mom hacks and solid tips on balancing a successful career, staying sane, having time for the fam?
I read somewhere that you can only really focus on three things in life at a time. I called bullshit and I tried to do it all, but it is exhausting! So when I feel overwhelmed, I say fuck it and take an afternoon to myself to recharge. I think we all need those days where we nap and watch Netflix and pig out. Throwing the mom guilt out the window takes some practice, but practice makes perfect and I am pretty good at it now!
10. And we wouldn’t be Rebels without asking how you keep your sex life on the up cause we know by 9pm all bets are usually off.
Sadly, our sex life isn’t what it used to be. But we try to make the times that we do get freaky a little more special. Eating an infused cookie helps!
11. Since you’re a style queen, what are your go to pieces right now – or what must haves would you advise the modern mama to get STAT?
My go-tos right now are high-waisted cropped dress pants from Aritzia, that literally go with everything—tanks, TEEs, sweaters, blouses and a plethora of shoe options. And I am also super into a pair of gold dangly earrings that I have from Biko. If I am feeling the need to dress up, theSe are my current faves.
12. Your shelves are lined with new and soon-to-be-launched beauty and skincare products – what are your products du jour?
I am obsessed with beauty products. I love Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser, Peoni’s L’extrait Oil Serum, and Goop by Juice Beauty’s Exfoliating Instant Facial. My skin is SO soft afterwards!
13. And since you’re directly involved in the world of Cannabis, we have to ask – how do you see yourself “growing” within the industry?
I got involved with Leafly, as a Canadian ambassador this past summer. I was open to it because I have seen how it has helped a few family members and friends deal with illness. I kept hearing about the amazing benefits, and with legalization coming in Canada next summer, I knew it would be important to be a part of the conversation early. As a mom, I want my daughter to be educated on the benefits and side effects of cannabis. She is going to be exposed to it from a young age (her grandfather uses cannabis medicinally), so I want her to be informed. I think across that board, we need to educate people. Even if you’re not interested in partaking, our society is about to face a major shift when it comes to cannabis and I aim to help women especially network and make the most out of this industry. Fellow Leafly ambassador, Ian Campeau, once told me that cannabis is a female plant, so it only makes sense that women gravitate towards it.
15. At times, it can be down right depressing how uninspired one can feel – Especially those of us who work for ourselves. How do you get yourself motivated to get shit done?
I am the ultimate procrastinator! I try to motivate myself by tackling small things first. Like doing research for a story, then setting it aside for a bit to check emails etc. I am still working on being organized!
16. Your words of advice (aka , a little rebel real talk) for new mama’s?
Don’t be afraid to speak up if you need help. And if you’re partner isn’t doing enough, say something. You can’t do this alone.
17. One thing we would be shocked to learn about you?
I can be painfully awkward and have stuck my foot in my mouth quite a few times when speaking to celebrities that I have interviewed. Like when I asked Martha Stewart if she flew Porter to get from NYC to Toronto. She flew private, obviously, because she’s Martha fucking Stewart!
18. Do you plan to have more children?
I will not completely rule it out yet, but I do know right now, I think one kid is all I can and want to handle. I know I could do pregnancy again, but I am not sure that I want to. I had one miscarriage before being pregnant with Emmeline. TBH, That tainted my whole pregnancy. With every weird feeling or pain I was worried that something was horribly wrong. I can be an anxious person sometimes, so this really heightened everything for me.
As for other reasons to keep our family small, I really like our dynamic right now. We can travel relatively easily with just one kid. And my husband and I still have time for each other. Which means a lot to both of us. And I am not sure I want to put my career on the back burner again.
19. What would you tell a childless woman thinking about having a baby?
You literally have no control over your pregnancy or your baby. All you can do is breathe and try to enjoy each bit even though it’s a fucking weird ride. But there is so much beauty in all the weirdness.
20. Lastly, what does being a Rebel Mama mean to you?
To me a Rebel Mama is someone who is not afraid to admit that she is not perfect. The idea of the perfect mom is complete bull shit. Humans are never perfect. So be open to your faults and never stop learning. We can be better versions of ourselves, we just have to be open to learning from others’ experiences and then distilling that into how it can work in our own world. And swearing a lot. RMs know when to drop a good f bomb!
Photos by Aleksandra Jassem