Totum Mum Crush x Hello My Tribe: Elsa Marie Collins
This Mum Crush is in collaboration with Hello My Tribe and begins a series we are hosting together on moms who have recently rocked our worlds.
I met Alex Winkleman Zeplain, Founder of Hello My Tribe, in January, when we were both chosen to be a part of a challenge to do a combo of 300 squats, push ups, sit ups, lunges and leg lifts every day for 30 days. What a weird way to meet, but the challenge included accountability via group text that led to connection among the participants. When Alex was introduced to the group, I was astounded at the similarity of the mission of Hello My Tribe and Totum Women. Additionally, Alex and I share a joy in collaboration over competition, and our first project together is to share some profiles of the awe-inspiring women who joined us in our January challenge.
Erin & Alex
Elsa Marie Collins
First up is Elsa Marie Collins. Elsa rose to the top of our list because she's been a force in the fight for justice for immigrants and is delivering aid to child detainees this week. Here's her incredible story, with an introduction about how she became an advocate for child detainees.
Tell us a little bit about your current work to fight injustices against immigrant families.
When the news first hit of young children being detained and separated from their parents this summer, Elsa Collins called her sister, Yolanda Selene Walther-Meade and said, “We have to do something.” The first and fifth of five children raised on both sides of the border, the sisters took their experience in social impact and crossborder issues and issued a rallying cry to their networks.
A group of us banded together and collected goods (backpacks, toiletries, blankets, books and toys) and had over 80 boxes to distribute to separated children at a facility, Casa Cornelia, the non profit legal clinic representing these children as well as Border Angels.
Share a bit about yourself, family, and professional background with us.
The youngest of five children, I grew up in Tijuana, Mexico, and moved to San Diego at the age of 16. After finishing high school in San Diego, I went to Stanford for my B.A. and Masters Degree followed by the obligatory Sex and the City phase of living in New York City where I got my JD from Columbia Law School. I met my husband at Stanford, yes we have been together since I was 18, and because of our careers and lives we have maintained a long distance relationship for the majority of the time.
Settling in Los Angeles while my husband, Jarron, was playing basketball in Utah, I co-founded BabytalkLA, a parenting education company addressing issues on raising children and parenting. I transitioned from there to working for Fusion/Univision on their social impact strategy team working on campaigns such as: the push to eradicate solitary confinement for juveniles, early childhood education and the value of mentorship with the organization My Brother's Keeper.
Most recently, I co-founded The Ideateur, with Liza Pasciuto, a social impact and political consulting group focusing on sports, culture and the entertainment space helping clients construct a strategy to address the issues they care about and then move the needle in the direction they want to see it shift.
I have three children, Alessandra 9, Valentina 7 and Massimo 6.
I continue to educate on parenting through articles and essays published at Lenny Letter and Parents Latina addressing how to talk about race with your children and addressing the gender bias when having children.
What highs and lows did you experience as you transitioned to motherhood?
The transition to motherhood for me has always been a windy road. The ultimate high for me was giving birth. I had never felt more powerful or in awe of my own body. This continued especially with my second and third children. Every time I went into the hospital I was beyond excited. Being pregnant was never my cup of tea, but giving birth? Oh I was born for that. I will miss that more than anything (yes I am done having kids).
I think the biggest difficulty I had with the transition was realizing that I had to change the way I made decisions about everything in my life. From where was a good place to live (are there good schools nearby), to eating that piece of cake for dessert (have I gotten my body back?) to having coffee with a girlfriend (she has no kids will she be bored if I talk about mine?).
What surprised you most?
I think the right word is shocked. What shocked me the most was how many things I started doing that I said I would never do because I hated it when my mom did it! I always used to hate going to church and proclaimed when I had kids, I wouldn't have them go to Church...my girls are having their First Communion this summer. When my brother and I used to fight, my mom would never pass judgement on fault unless she had witnessed it. I would be so mad as a kid saying this is what happened Mom and I will never do that...I now use that line. If I didn't see it, I don't want to know, you need to figure it out.
How do you practice daily self-care?
Other people's glass of wine is my workout. That is how I express my self-care. Whether it’s a run, a pilates or yoga class, not only do I need it but I have no guilt when I do it because I know it makes me a better person.
Healthiest daily habit you practice?
Going to bed right after I put my kids to bed.
Looking at my phone in the middle of the night.
How have your priorities shifted over the last few years?
I want my kids to know they come first. If you would have told me years ago I would be the head of the PTA at school I would have laughed in your face. But I want to be involved in the community where my kids spend the majority of their days. Since my husband lives in the Bay Area for 10 months out of the year, being at practices and games and performances take precedent over everything and that is a welcome adjustment. I also realize that I need to take care of myself as much as I am taking care of the kids. So going to bed early, drinking water, all of the things I encourage my kids to do I also try to do! And of course when my husband is home, leaving the kids to do a date night or a short vacation is essential
Piece of advice you want all women to have as they transition into motherhood?
My best piece of advice is to not compare yourself or your kids to anyone else. This parenting role will go on for the rest of your life and it isn't worth wasting your energy to continue to look around you and compare. Embrace who you are and who your children are!