My Mom & Me: Justine & Simone
"Success for my life is living a happy day-to-day existence, providing a life of opportunity and joy for my children, and focusing significant energy and resources to improving the lives of others"
Meet Justine, as she shares with us her Motherhood journey and how she balances work and life, while living in Los Angeles and working as the Director of Partnerships for a non-profit, global health organization.
Hi Justine, may we have you do an introduction about yourself?
I was born in Brooklyn, NY, and grew up in New Jersey until I was 17. I lived and worked in a few countries in the Middle East and North Africa for about 10 years after university, in the development and humanitarian sectors. I’m currently the Director of Partnerships for a non-profit, global health organization, where I focus on health programming here in the United States.
How old is Simone and how has Motherhood been for you so far?
Simone is two years old. I was incredibly fortunate to have a smooth pregnancy and delivery with her, and to have a joyous, fun-loving, free-spirited toddler now. Motherhood has challenged me in some ways I could have anticipated - the lack of sleep, the small identity crises along the way, the extraordinary patience needed, and yet has also expanded and filled my heart to a level I don’t think I fully understood was possible.
What is a typical day for you? How do you balance work, life and family?
During the work week, I usually spend two hours in the morning with Simone before work, and two hours after work before she has to go to sleep. Those hours are filled with pretty predictable routines - making and eating breakfast and dinner, bath time, and plenty of time for playing with her toy kitchen, chasing the dog around the living room, or snuggling on the couch with books (and admittedly, some cartoons at the end of the day). My husband and I share our responsibilities at home and with the dog and baby, and I try to sneak in an hour for exercise most days, as movement is really key to my mental health. I have a lot of family in LA, and we are lucky to have frequent weekday dinners and weekend adventures with them. Even though I’m not from California, several close friends from the East Coast have moved here, and we have a wonderful group of friends, many of whom also have kids around Simone’s age, so filling our free time with kid-friendly activities that allow the adults to connect as well has really helped balance friendship and family.
How do you define success in life?
Success for my life is living a happy day-to-day existence, providing a life of opportunity and joy for my children, and focusing significant energy and resources to improving the lives of others.
Three words to describe you / or one fun fact about you that not many people know?
Curious, active, driven. My husband would say I don’t know how to relax (i.e. sit around and do nothing on the weekend per his definition), and he’s not entirely wrong. But put me on the beach, sans children, and I’m great at relaxing!
Your house is beautiful. Would you mind sharing with us which area are you living in and what is the style of your house? Which is your favourite spot at home and why?
Thank you so much! It has been a work in progress, and we just started another construction project downstairs. We live in Los Feliz, on the eastside of Los Angeles. Our house is mid-century; it was built in 1959. My favourite spot is probably the living room. A local LA furniture maker made us the couches we love, and our coffee table is a repurposed wooden door with mother-of-pearl inlay that we found at a flea market in Beirut. We have a lot of big, bold art that we brought with us to LA when we moved from Beirut five years ago. From the living room, you can see a lot of the beautiful paintings from Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian artists, and it reminds me of the life my husband and I had in Beirut before we moved here.
Share with us some of your favourite places in LA!
We love hiking in Griffith Park - we can access the park right at the end of our block so we take our dog on a walk on one of the trails every day. We enjoy going on long walks with Simone and Hugo on the weekend and getting breakfast or a snack in Los Feliz, especially at All Time Cafe. On Sunday afternoons, we’ve been meeting our friends regularly at a bar, The Hermosillo, in Highland Park, which is a great tradition now that going out at night is a little more complicated with kids!
What are some of your goals this year or something that you are looking forward to?
We are expecting our second child, another baby girl, in July! So our big goal for 2023 is to welcome her safely to the world and adjust to our life as a family of four.
Someone that inspires you and why.
My mom, Pauline. My dad worked really hard outside of the house when we were growing up (and made a lot of sacrifices as well!), and his daily commute into NYC and frequent business trips meant that it was often just my mom at home for wake up and bedtimes. She had us in a million activities, and the mental load never mind all of the driving, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and organizing that must have taken is remarkable. Now that I’m a mom, I know how tiring it can be to do that each morning and each night, and I can’t even imagine doing it with three children. I hugely admire single parents, parents who are full-time caregivers, and those who care for children as their work because it is one of the most challenging, and important, jobs out there!
Justine wears pieces from the collection, "A Day in Pasadena" and Simone wears pieces from our Mini collection, "My Mom and Me".