In our new series Living Their Best Life, Oprah Daily sits down with notable names to find out just that, from how they maximize every moment to the daily rituals that keep them grounded. Here, Jenny Slate shares how motherhood has shaped her shopping list, her spirituality and her self-esteem.
Jenny Slate has established herself as a queen of comedy, thanks to her work on Saturday Night Live and Parks and recreationbut she also graciously tackled more serious roles, including that of a young woman in her twenties who has an abortion in 2014 Obvious child. Next, she voices Marcel the Shell, who gets a major feature upgrade in a movie she co-wrote, Marcel the shod shell (yes, that’s exactly what you think it is).
On the home front, Slate and her husband, Ben Shattuck, welcomed their first child in early 2021, and she’s been filling her shelves with books on babies, parenting and human development ever since. Through motherhood, her perspective changes in major ways, such as accepting the spirituality that works for her and supporting causes that matter. This includes a partnership with Tillamook Ice Creamthat Slate likes because it’s a certified farmer-owned B corporation, and they use extra cream in all of their products. “It’s important to me that there are companies that do useful, healthy and useful work for the planet,” she says.
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Although she’d probably rather eat ice cream, Slate recently told us about the beauty and wellness products she buys, what she’s learning about the human brain, and how she’s becoming increasingly more herself every day.
His changing spirituality
I’m trying to unlearn my own strict or brutal rules about how I look or what the aging process is supposed to be. And what a good parent looks like. I’m unlearning all this modeling of everything I grew up with that somehow made me feel ashamed. I’m trying to loosen that.
I am also creating a new definition of what healthy spirituality means to me. I grew up in the Jewish community, and while there is so much about Jewish culture and religion that I love, I need an asexual or genderless version of a god. I am looking for a broader spirituality to pass on to my daughter. When it comes to our hearts and minds, why not go and be as open and curious as possible, rather than saying that God is an old man and he’s angry? It doesn’t work for me.
His parenting plans
I’m reading a new book by Kathryn Davis. I listen to it to be podcast every week, and I also listen to the Buddhist teacher Tara Brach. These are things that make me feel good. I’m trying really hard to keep reading and listening for fun and for my own enrichment, but I also spend a lot of time now reading baby books. I read Janet Lansbury; I find his philosophy very helpful. It helps me feel safer to take in information, even if I don’t agree with it. It’s just interesting to hear different points of view.
Right now, I’m learning about the development of the human brain. I do a lot of work trying to understand how young people’s behavior progresses, how their brain develops as they grow, and what the prefrontal cortex does. With teenagers, you’re like, “Ugh, they’re hormonal. Or with people who have a menstrual cycle and go through mood swings, you’re like, “Oh, it’s the hormones. With babies, they may be labeled bad or spoiled, but they really have limited options for what their brains allow them to do with very strong feelings. I decided to learn how my daughter’s little body works so that I can take care of her with openness and gentleness.
I decided to learn how my daughter’s little body works so that I can take care of her with openness and gentleness.
Become a parent is a great clarification of my own personal belief system. It’s like a daily check to make sure I’m living what’s important to me. The other part is being realistic about what’s really going on in my life, like not using my phone and making sure that every day I make time to read and practice mindfulness and stay in touch with the people I love.
I am becoming more and more myself. More than ever. Faster than ever. I feel like motherhood has accelerated my own healthy work that I need to do to build the parts of myself that demand empowerment. Honestly, I think the experience of having my daughter suddenly expanded my own sense of self-worth. It’s so cliché, but there’s no better time than the present, whatever it is for you. This is where I am at right now. I become a mother not only for my child but also for myself.
I use a lot of Weleda products and my daughter too. They have this cocooning rose lotion; I’m really into all things pink. Davines makes beautiful hair products that I love using. I also really like Olaplex for my hair. In my kitchen, I have Tillamook ice cream. It’s really what we eat. May be too much ? I don’t think there are too many. There are just too many great flavors, and it’s an amazingly creamy gelato. I have the ice cream sandwiches and the black cherry and Oregon cream cookie flavors. After my husband and I put the baby to bed, we eat ice cream.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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