Meet Jessica Britten, she’s instantly loveable, refreshingly real and deeply fantastic. Total sunshine is the best way to describe them; the bond between Jess and her daughter Stevie is obvious from the minute you meet. Together with her fiancé Warren Durling they are renovating a historic hall into their forever home, a journey they share online @hallweneed. We chat to Jess about their daughter Stevie, what it was like bringing her home to the hall and the irrevocable unequivocal joy of motherhood.
Tell us about your daughter Stevie
I have a hard time being modest when it comes to Stevie because I legitimately think she’s the most amazing soul on the planet! (I’m sure all mums can relate!). She is seven months old and has a magnificent little character which shines through more every day. She’s funny, determined and gives the best hugs. She’s like a teeny little koala bear that loves to giggle while ripping out my hair. Aside from losing an unsettling amount of hair every day, life is pretty damn amazing with her around. When she arrived, it was like everything just clicked for me. The depth of love that I feel makes words feel inadequate, I’m immensely proud to be her mum.
And what it is like to be her mother?
There are many reasons why I love being her mum, but ultimately it boils down to purpose. I know in the depths of my soul that right now I am doing what I was born to do. That sense of purpose sees me through the moments when I just want to go to sleep for a week or can’t remember when I last showered.
What values do you hope to instil in your daughter?
This is something Warren and I discuss often. Being a parent is a privilege and a responsibility we do not take lightly. We try to lead by example and hope Stevie has strength of character in all her values. I particularly hope she has a deep inner confidence and strength, is hungry to grow and experience the world, and has the ability to laugh at herself and always be empathetic and generous to others.
Your body (and mind!) goes through the most magnificent shift during pregnancy, birth and post-natal recovery. How has that journey been for you?
I’m an open book when it comes to my experience being a mum and have no qualms sharing that the first few weeks and months were overwhelming! You know when you’re sobbing but you can’t say exactly why because you’re not sure yourself? That was me 24/7. Nothing could have prepared me for how in love I was; I felt it in the depths of my soul and was overcome with emotion and gratitude. I just couldn’t believe that my soul mate and I made the beautiful, healthy baby before my eyes. That love is wildly powerful and I still get that feeling when I look at her today, an overwhelming love and respect for life.
Couple that overwhelming love with sleep deprivation, hormonal changes and physical recovery and BOY it was tough. I really had to prioritise and learn to accept help. I started to feel I had the hang of this mum thing around 6 weeks, then the next challenge was surrendering fully to the new pace of life set by Stevie. I’m so much happier and more content now that I have let go of expectations around what I used to achieve in a day and learned to go with the flow and find joy in being present as her mum. I find that incredibly fulfilling and view being a parent as one of the most important jobs in the world.
What is one of the greatest things you have learned about yourself since becoming a mother?
I now know that my body, mind and spirit are adaptable and resilient beyond what I think are my limits. I was a bit of a sissy when it comes to getting enough sleep; one of the things I was most nervous about before Stevie arrived was how I was going to function off less than the luxurious eight hours I was used to. Honestly, I needn't have worried, the tiredness is offset by the intense joy I experience every day. Life is such a miracle and mums just dig deep and get. it. done!!! Being a parent is a beautiful journey but absolutely relentless and there are many moments when you think you can’t hold it all together and stay sane, but you can, and you do — everyday (at least, most days!!).
Tell us about The Hall, you and your partner have poured so much energy and love into building a home there – what was it like bringing Stevie home?
3 years ago, Warren (my dream guy and forever fiancé) and I brought a historic hall which we are slowly converting into our family home. It’s a fun project and means a lot to us. Home is a hugely important part of my life. I have always felt anchored by my physical environment and in some ways the hall was our first baby. So, bringing Stevie home was monumental (it was also terrifying, like ‘ok what do we do now?!) our whole world has changed but our nest was still the same and I was reminded why home is so sacred to me.
Now I look back and I’m so grateful we got the opportunity to buy the hall pre-baby because we don’t have the amount of time and energy to spend DIYing now as we did for years on nights and weekends before Stevie arrived.
Tell us what your ideal Mother’s Day looks like (we’ll make sure Stevie gets the memo ) and how will you be spoiling your mum this year?
I absolutely cannot wait for when Stevie is old enough to make me homemade cards and deliver me tea and toast in bed (with a little help from dad)!! The mere thought makes my heart burst. But until then I’ll gratefully accept all of those things, but from Warren with Stevie in the front pack!
I GOT IT FROM MY MAMA –
Tell us about your mum, Kirsteen Britten.
My mum is the most kind, empathetic woman I know. She’s filled the role of mum and dad since my dad passed away when I was 5, she’s incredibly strong and selfless.
What is your favourite part about her?
I could write an essay here, but her big heart is her most endearing trait. She would move mountains for those she loves.
What is the best thing she has handed down / passed on to you? (quality, lesson or attribute
For sure my creativity, empathy and openness to communicate my feelings. She taught me to find my true self and not to have shame around whatever I was experiencing (chances are you’re not the only one). The highs and lows in life are made so much more enjoyable if you approach your emotions, and those of others, with empathy and kindness.
How has your relationship evolved since having Stevie?
I have always had a great relationship with mum but holy shit (can I swear here? Haha) I remember looking at one day old Stevie and balling my eyes out (a common theme) in this profound moment of understanding what my mum has felt all these years, and how she followed through with her actions; always putting up first and loving us unconditionally. Both Warren and I also felt very emotional about his mum, Stevie’s other grandmother, Yvonne not being alive to meet her. She would have been a wonderful granny and would have doted on Stevie.
AND next for the Brittens?
A sleep in? Haha, I’ll try to be more realistic...A hot cup of tea. Ok ok, a cup of tea that was once hot (because, mum life)
P.S. I LOVE that you are calling us the Brittens!! I always joke that Warren and Stevie should change their names and become Brittens ;)
Jessica wears Regan handbag in tan and Juno tote in black. Shop the full Mother's Day edit below: