Where would Team Knixteen be without our moms? They’ve given us “the talk”, they’ve calmed us down after the initial shock of our first periods, and they’ve supported us through all kinds of ups and downs. On Mother’s Day (and beyond!), we think all moms are superheroes, and this is especially true of Brittany Kolba. A Knixteen mom in our community, she’s the mom of 4, a social media guru, a recent TikTok star, and an ex-theatre nerd (more to come on that). We chatted with Brittany about what her life was like as a teen, what it’s like to now raise one, and the importance of girl power in her house.
Let’s throw it back a little.
You’re a super mom to 4 kids but before we get to that—what were you like as a teen? What was your most embarrassing moment?
Oh gosh, I was one of four daughters, and definitely grew up as the shy one. Then junior high happened and all of a sudden I decided I’d test the waters as a social butterfly and have never looked back!
In high school I was boy CRAZY. Whatever boy I liked at the time, I tried to impress with my style. When I liked a preppy boy? I faked an eye exam to get Giorgio Armani glasses. When I liked a skater, I’d wear Hurley, skate shoes and a puka shell necklace and completely destroy myself on a skateboard or snowboard. When I liked a hockey player, I’d pretend I knew something, anything, about sports. This is all pretty hilarious since I don’t care at all what people think of me now. But it reminds me how hard being a teen is, always unsure of who you are or who you want to be.
As for embarrassing... I was in musical theatre. So if that’s not enough for you, I was a hyena in the school play of Lion King. I hung up my jazz hands shortly after, ha ha!
What did you want to be when you grew up? Did it come true?
I wanted to be a veterinarian or a broadcaster. I did move to Vancouver to get my Vet Assistant diploma, which I earned with honours, but never actually got to work in the field as I had Brookie a year later.
If you could tell a 15 year old you anything, what would it be?
Don’t worry so much about the people who aren’t kind, you are better off without them. Whatever they find an issue with, it only means they are insecure of themselves! Don’t be afraid to lead, it’s a big responsibility but also an honour— you have the power to change lives for the better, share your gifts with the world! Also, calm down with the white eyeliner! Ha ha!
You’re the mom to a teenager, Brooklynn! We’ve heard from sources (our own moms) this isn’t always the easiest task. What’s the most difficult part of raising a teenager? What’s the best part?
I think this is the hardest role I’ve ever played. It is a constant power struggle. I don’t relate to her defiance because I was a total people pleaser as a kid (not always a good thing!). It’s hard these days as they have so much more than we did, and the expectations are so high. We try very hard to keep her grounded in reality, but we find many parents don’t have the energy to battle so they say yes to everything. This makes our job even harder than it already is! Reminding Brooklynn that at not even 15, she’s still technically a kid, so yes - there will be rules, and sometimes we will say no. It’s big emotions all the time.
The best part is seeing them discover their talents and their personality. Brooklynn spent a lot of time fretting over not being “sporty”, it bothered her so much. This year she played several major roles in her school theatre productions and she was AMAZING, like far and beyond what I could have ever expected from a 14 year old. It was so nice to see her discover that she didn’t have to keep jamming a square peg in a round hole and to accept her natural gifts and talents. I love having someone to go for sushi with, that I know I won’t have to escort to the washroom or worry about a meltdown. It’s like having a friend who’s always available for an adult-ish date. Also, stealing her shoes, ha ha!
What do you think is the most important thing you want to teach your kids about girl power?
In our home we are very gender neutral. Cars and dinosaurs aren’t just for boys. I want my girls to know they can be anything and do anything and to be strong enough to stand up to people that don’t have that same belief foundation. I want them to be strong enough to never depend on someone else for their success or happiness. Don’t play small to make others comfortable. Having one boy and three girls, I hope he picks up lots of respectful behaviour towards women.
The world is a bit upside down right now! What's your life been like? Do you have words of wisdom for moms balancing parenting and working during this time?
This has been the weirdest experience of my life. First off, the week before social isolation went down, it was my birthday, me along with a few hundred others were part of a Jillian Harris intimate Q&A night. Wine was flowing, people were still hugging. It was the craziest thing that just a few days later our Y closed, restaurants closed, we stopped seeing people. I cried every day for a week because of how overwhelmed and exhausted I was. I work from home, so working around my kids isn’t something new, but I’m also in full time school, so without being able to escape to the actual college— I was staying up every day until 5:00 am to get my schoolwork done. Then there was the work for my grade two daughter— because at that age you can’t leave them to their own devices, so I was anxious and so stressed.
Now? Well, I kind of have settled into this new norm. As a family of 6 we are never all under the same roof. We always have sports and activities and meetings. We are constantly racing around and overbooked. I’ve loved this time to slow down and simplify life.
I did an Instagram post earlier this week giving some tips for this crazy time. Some big ones are: treat weekdays like weekdays and weekends like weekends. Keep bedtimes. Eat healthy. Move your body. Get up, shower, get dressed, this way you are ready to take on that Zoom call at any moment. And give yourself grace. I stopped worrying about nutritionally balanced lunches real fast. They want PC White Cheddar Mac & cheese daily? I will give that to them. They spend all day in front of the TV watching Frozen 2 for the millionth time? Well, no one has ever died from watching too much Disney. Let go of the high expectations. This is NOT normal circumstances nor business as usual - so do what you need to survive mentally and physically.
What’s your favorite part of being a mom?
How much time do we have? Ha ha! The snuggles, their soft bellies, their tiny voices, watching them learn new skills, seeing them overcome adversity. I love seeing all four of them develop unique personalities and passions. Probably my number one thing is the feeling you get when you see your kid do something really, purely GOOD. My heart literally feels like it is swelling— when I see them offer their last cookie to their sibling, when they befriend a child playing alone, when they make a card that articulates EXACTLY how they feel. Pride, that is my favourite part of being a mama.