Actress Amy Smart is the kind of person who grows her own kale. In other words, she is very health conscious and has an affinity for the natural and organic. So when becoming a mother didn't happen in the organic way she'd always thought it would, it was difficult.
"It was a very hard struggle for a good five years," Smart tells Motherly. "I didn't know if I was going to be a parent."
Then, two years ago, Smart and her husband, Trading Spaces star Carter Oosterhouse, welcomed their daughter Flora via surrogacy.
Smart, 42, doesn't shy away from talking about her difficult road to motherhood, and although she considers herself and Carter "somewhat new parents" navigating the unknown, she does have some advice for those who are still navigating their own road to parenthood.
"I think it's important to remain open to options. I would never have 7 years ago thought [about surrogacy]", she says.
According to Smart, her journey to motherhood involved incrementally considering and becoming comfortable with options she hadn't previously entertained. At each step, she told herself, "I have to become more flexible and become more open to different ways of creating a child."
In 2016 (on the day after Christmas) Smart and Oosterhouse welcomed baby Flora, and Smart says she's grateful for the technology and people who helped make that happen but notes that like so much of parenthood, "it's not easy."
New journey, new challenges
With parenthood comes different challenges, and for Smart one of those challenges is balancing her family's schedules. She's acting, TV carpenter Oosterhouse has his own career and together they have an eco-friendly home goods line called SmartHouse. For Smart, adding motherhood to the mix means she's more selective about the projects she takes on these days. She's still working, but time with Flora comes first.
"For me, she and my relationship with Carter are number one," she explains. "Timing is everything in life. Sometimes something takes priority over something else for a bit and you kind of have to just go with the flow a bit," she explains.
In this season of life Smart is prioritizing time with her daughter, but that doesn't mean she's not taking a break from parenting every now and then. "It takes a lot of energy to raise a child," she explains. "I think every parent needs breaks because that makes you a better parent."
Smart says she's fortunate enough to have an amazing babysitter who can help her take those breaks when she needs them because she can come back to Flora recharged and refreshed.
In order to maximize the energy she and Oosterhouse have for toddler chasing, Smart makes sure the family eats well. For her, that means growing her own food, but she says parents don't have to go quite as far as she does, and suggests a lower-maintenance plan is just simply stocking the kitchen with veggies and fruits, and making sure to offer the easy-to-eat, high-fibre varieties to the kids.
"I think that we're influenced a lot by the way we eat," says Smart.
Food may be a big influence in Smart's life, but she's not really influenced by trends when it comes to buying for her daughter. Many kids with parents in the entertainment world are decked out in designer duds, but Flora's wardrobe is as down-to-earth as her mama's garden.
"For Flora we pretty much have mostly hand-me-downs, I haven't bought a lot of new things for her because we don't need to," Smart tells Motherly.
"It's so nice to be able to take a bag from my sister-in-law and use those clothes and then pass them down to another child."
We could all use a sister-in-law like that, and anyone currently trying to conceive and considering options outside their comfort zone can use Smart's advice: "There are so many different ways to make a child."
Using technology to start your family doesn't mean you won't be a natural-minded mama.