Jenna von Oy’s Blog: A Walk on the ‘Child’ Side

09/19/2012 at 06:45 PM ET
My little family – Mimosa Arts Photography

Celebrity blogger Jenna von Oy is a new mama!

Best known for her roles as Six on Blossom and Stevie on The Parkers, von Oy is also a musician who has released two albums and is set to publish a book, The Betweeners.

von Oy, 35, wed Brad Bratcher on Oct. 10, 2010, and resides in Nashville with her husband and five dogs.

They welcomed their first child, daughter Gray Audrey, on May 21. She is now 4 months old.

In her latest blog, von Oy gets her own mom talking about her best memories raising four kids.

You can find her on Facebook and Twitter @JennavonOy, as well as posting on her new blog, The Cradle Chronicles.

My mom recently came to see my husband and me for two weeks in Nashville. Actually, let’s go ahead and be realistic here … she came to see our daughter, Gray. And aside from bearing gifts for her beloved grandchild, as grandmothers are prone and entitled to do, she also had goodies (of sorts) for me.

I suspect she’s been investing some serious time in cleaning out her attic, because she volunteered various keepsakes she has been “saving” for me for the last several decades. It was a scary little blast from the past that made me question just how much of a packrat my mother really is. Not that I’m claiming to be much better, mind you! The thing is, I’m the oldest of four kids, and I imagine she’s storing an equal amount of my siblings’ souvenirs alongside mine. I envision her attic as a shrine to report cards, tap shoes, Tonka trucks and notes to the Easter Bunny. Photos and papers and junk, oh my!

Day one of her visit, my mother opened her suitcase to reveal such childhood relics as my rock collection, doll collection, coin collection, and … wait for it … eraser collection. Ah yes, because I’ve surely been leading a dysfunctional existence without all of those. She even threatened to tote my button collection along on her next trip down, as in: the ones that adorned my “fly” jean jacket in the 80’s. God help me! In all seriousness, and my intention certainly isn’t to poke fun here, I fear I may have been a young hoarder in the making.

Anyway, I’m unsure what my mother expects me to do with all of these artifacts that she has amassed over the years, but I suspect they are still attic-bound, despite their change in venue. They will probably serve as honorable companions to the mementos I begin to stockpile for my own daughter; an assortment of her eventual handiwork and objets d’art, such as picture frames made out of macaroni noodles and clay mugs that say “#1 Mom.” It’s tough to get rid of objects that hold so many memories. They become a sentimental part of the long goodbye to our youth.

Gray is only 4 months old, and I confess to feeling a nudge of anxiety about her growing up. I’m trying not to get ahead of myself, but part of me is already dreading the day that finds me “putting away her childish things.” It’s no secret that life won’t slow down to wait while we mourn the loss of days gone by, so each passing phase of my daughter’s young life is a bittersweet adventure.

On the one hand, I’m thrilled to see her achieve the next great milestone such as smiling, waving and blowing kisses. On the other hand, I’m devastated to leave another stage of her infancy behind. She has already graduated out of her newborn clothes and diapers, and moved beyond the teeny tiny baby stage, which renders me a bit weepy. (For the record, we are now in the weeble wobble, wiggle worm, spitting up incessantly, stick your hand in your mouth so you can drool everywhere phase.)

But the scariest chapters in her childhood are closer on the horizon than I’d like to admit. You know, those that give way to baby-proofing the house — a.k.a. crawling and walking. I tremble just thinking about the first time she’ll bump her head on our dining room table, or take her first tumble on the hardwood floor. The concept of my daughter becoming mobile is incredibly nerve-racking. But alas, it is a rite of passage for both of us.

Apprehensions aside, I cannot wait to witness the pure joy on her face as she chases our dogs through the yard (though I may be slightly more excited about this prospect than they are). I look forward to seeing her discover the world around her, as she grows into the woman she will become. Like I said, it’s a bittersweet journey.

Thankfully Gray isn’t crawling yet! – Mimosa Arts Photography

This brings me back to my mom’s visit. One rainy afternoon, we sat down to enjoy coffee and discuss my jitters over the thought of Gray’s impending first steps. I realize these are a few months down the road, at least I hope this is the case, but I’m a first-time mom… Worrying is my new part-time job! Our conversation gave way to a fun exchange of anecdotes from my own childhood, and Mom launched into some fantastic — albeit embarrassing — stories about my mischievous ways. “Do you have any memorable sagas about my crawling, walking or running?” I inquired of her. And, in case you are wondering, this is the part of the blog where I repeatedly throw myself under the bus.

The biggest scare you ever gave me was when you were barely 1 year old. Your dad and I were renting a small apartment over our landlord’s house. Dad was at work all the time, and I stayed home with you. One day, as you were wandering around, I went to make lunch in the kitchen. I wasn’t worried about letting you run through the halls on your own, as everything was completely childproofed. We’d taken all of the precautions that had been suggested to us; there were latches on every cabinet and locks on every drawer. There was only one door in the house, and you weren’t even able to reach the knob on it — you were such a tiny little thing. I mean, you were so petite that you didn’t even register on the height charts!

Anyway, after a little while, I realized I didn’t hear you anymore and I started calling for you. You didn’t answer, which was highly unusual. I scoured every room in that apartment (there weren’t many) and I called your name over and over again. You still weren’t answering. I checked under each bed and looked in every closet. Now I was frantic with worry. I started crying, and I telephoned your dad at work. He asked if I’d checked outside.

The thought that you might have found some way to get out there scared me to death, especially since we were two floors up. However, I just couldn’t imagine how you would have done it. The doors were still locked, but I went outside anyhow and scanned the yard. I didn’t see you. Racing back into the house, I went through every room again. I was moments from calling the police, when I heard a tiny little noise coming from the garbage can in the corner of our bedroom. You’d pushed the empty bin over and crawled into it. What a handful you were!

Houdini would have been proud. My mother finishes her story and breaks into a sly grin. In fact, she is downright beaming. I can spot the glimmer of hope accompanying that smile; the silent prayer that I’ll end up with a daughter who bestows the same wicked woes upon me. There’s just no mistaking the portent of karma! And she is enjoying it far too much to stop there …

You were equally impish before you learned to walk. For instance, there was the time I was babysitting my friend’s son, and lost sight of you for a moment. I heard you laughing, and I couldn’t figure out where you’d gone. Talk about heart failure. Come to find out, you’d managed to crawl up a flight of steps.

I was flabbergasted — I didn’t know you could do that! And there you were, sitting on the landing and laughing incessantly. You were so proud of yourself. There was also the time you found a way to climb up on top of our television set. You laughed at me then too. I still can’t figure out how you got up there!

As I listen to my mother relay tales of my naïve infant insubordination, I make the conscious decision to drag my siblings under the bus along with me. Sorry, guys. Next up? My sister, Alyssa …

She was difficult, because she was active so early. She was only 8 months old when she started walking! But one good thing is that she fell asleep everywhere. Your dad and I used to find her curled up in the broom closet. Once, I even found her passed out in a planter. She would be running around, and suddenly she would just stop, drop and sleep.

Alyssa stops, drops and sleeps – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

Brings new meaning to the old emergency safety slogan, doesn’t it? Note to self: narcolepsy may run in the family. Also — and I’m sure my sister will just love this idea — I’m considering recounting some of these stories during my matron-of-honor speech at her wedding in October. I figure that should provide ample entertainment for her new in-laws (insert diabolical smile here). Not to worry, Alyssa, you aren’t the only one I’m carrying with me into this slaughter … Pete isn’t leaving unscathed either.

Peter was our local bull in the china shop. When he was walking, he was also breaking things. We must have gone through four or five tops for our coffee table before we finally gave up and got rid of it. Each time he’d break it, we’d get thicker glass. Then he’d pull himself up, smash a toy car down on it, and it would break all over again.

In retrospect, this amazes me. My brother is one of the most docile humans I’ve ever known. Seriously. He’s introspective, old-fashioned in his ways, and a gallant man. As my husband puts it, he has a sort of quiet nobility. So, needless to say, memories of a time when he was the resident rascal are music to my big sister ears. And, in case my littlest (but really NOT so little at all) brother, Tyler, thinks he’s out of the woods … Laugh all you like, baby brother, but no such luck. I’m an equal opportunist.

Peter in his pre-breaking things phase – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

Tyler was a flirt, which made his learning to walk all the more embarrassing. You were on Blossom at the time, and if you recall, your dressing room was at the end of a long hallway. Casts of other shows had dressing rooms down there too, and I used to find Tyler visiting all the ladies.

He wasn’t entirely discriminatory — every now and then I’d catch him playing video games with one of the guys like Hank Azaria, but mostly he knocked on the women’s doors. One time, I found him in Keri Russell‘s room. He’d convinced her to sit and play games with him. By the time he was 3 years old, he’d proposed to several women. No joke. He sure got away with a lot!

HA! You see? I wasn’t so bad, after all. Okay, so I crawled into a wastebasket and climbed on top of a television set. At least I wasn’t the 2-year-old equivalent of Casanova, right? There’s nothing like hollow reassurance, because that’s when my mom decides to bring up the mother (pun definitely intended) of all anecdotes. All’s well, that ends well … or at least that ends with the joke being on me.

Tyler learns to appreciate women – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

I think this should be allowed to fall into the “running” category. When you were about 3, you decided to run away from home. You packed your little suitcase, and got all the way to the backyard- about 50 feet from the house. It was hysterical, because of course, you told us you were running away before you actually did it. You got to the edge of the woods and stood there looking back at us as if to say, “Well? Aren’t you going to come after me?”

Dad and I just looked out the window and tried not to laugh. You were such a little drama queen! We mulled over how long to wait before coming out to retrieve you. After a few minutes of your pouting, I ran out and hugged you, saying, “Oh honey, we missed you SO much!” You were happy with that and came back inside.

So the secret is out… I was mildly melodramatic. Then again, isn’t that what you would expect from a kid who decided she wanted to become an actress at the ripe old age of 3? I’m grateful for parents who didn’t stifle my need to express myself, even if it was with a little more flare than necessary from time to time.

Suffice it to say, I am looking toward similar, wonderfully terrifying experiences with Gray. I know they will be fodder for our own caffeine-induced, spirited dish session about 35 years from now … Talk about the portent of karma!

Me, sitting on the TV and laughing – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

Until next time,

— Jenna von Oy

P.S. As always, please feel free to leave me comments here, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter! Please also visit my own blog, The Cradle Chronicles, where I dispense more of my weekly motherhood anecdotes!

P.P.S. For the record, Mom, I’ve concluded that you were a saint.

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Showing 23 comments

Shenae on


Thanks for sharing memories from your childhood! Loved all those old photos!

Also, I really like the new pic of you, Brad, and Gray. You are positively glowing!

Nancy on

Wow, does this ever being back memories! Especially since I’ve known your family since Alyssa was an infant! I think you need to tell the hair-raising story of how Peter and Leith got lost in the woods on Chappaquiddick. Shanna will love this blog- I have a photo of her at about the age of Alyssa in this blog’s photo, asleep in her high chair with her faced mashed into a bowl of cereal. And I agree- your mom is a saint x4!

lovely123 on

The guy couldn’t find anything else to wear except for a PURPLE HOODED SWEAT JACKET! Seriously, such a nice picture and this guy chooses that!?!?!

mae on

Hey lovely 123,

That’s the only thing you focus on? I feel sorry for anyone like you who is so shallow.

J on

He was a breathtaking baby.

MA momma on

My mother has been threatening that she’s going to drop all of her amassed boxes of my childhood school stuff on me too! It’s sentimental, yes. But, where are we supposed to keep it?! Our house is extremely low on storage space and the prospect of having to store my old things that I will likely never look at scares me. Granted, my mother has been keeping those boxes in HER basement for nearly 40 years, but still…

Love your stories Jenna! Made me take a little trip down memory lane myself. I remember rainy days spent in the aforementioned basement playing Legos and Star Wars with my brother, creating secret bases out of Styrofoam packing materials and boxes. Or riding the tractor with my grandfather when he’d mow the front field in the Fall, after a summer spent creating “crop circles” in the waist high grass. Simpler times…

swb on

@ J – thanks for the chuckle. : )

Rachel on

cute kids!

lovely123 on

“You are positively glowing”, I don’t think so. The guy looks like me after my morning coffee.

NW Mama on

Isn’t it funny how after you have a child, you are reminded of how you were as a child and your parents secretly hoping that your children will be like you. I remember my mother telling me that I liked to hide in the clothes rack in the stores when we went shopping and she was always frantically looking for me in those way cool round clothes racks…. lol ….. Until I found myself doing the exact same thing with my youngest daughter. Well they say the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree! LOL

Keep a close eye on Gray, sounds like she is going to be a climber!

My daughter was 2 when she climbed up the side of the bunk beds (minus the ladder, so she wouldn’t climb up it) and proceeded to jump off of the top bunk bed and land on the floor with a big bang, and then just laugh and laugh and laugh. Oh how time goes by so fast. Enjoy every moment with your daughter and family, it is so worth the journey!

Your family is absolutely beautiful and I love the way you write your blogs, please keep writing them!

shannon on

so cute… Aislyn was born May 29th she’ll be 4 months next Saturday 🙂

na on

You’re so blessed that your mom is able to tell you these great stories and kept your childhood momentos. My mom died a few years before my son was born and it has made me miss her that much more because she can’t tell me those stories or be a grandma to him. I’m so happy for you that yours is so great, your daughter will be lucky to have her as a grandma! 🙂

fanofboardwalkempire on

I love reading your blogs- you are a great writer and I find myself enchanted with the story- thank you so much

Candice on

Jenna, Thanks for sharing these moments and memories. I also have a 4 month old (born on May 16th). I love reading your blogs and posts because I feel like I can sympothize or empathize with you. I am so nervous about watching my little man run all over the place but oh so excited about it. Don’t worry about the negative lovely on here, obviously something is lacking in their own life for them to come on here and post rude and nasty comments. Your family is beautiful because it is YOUR family. Continue the blogs and posts, I love to read them.

Missy F., RN on

Oh Jenna! Your blog this week had my eyes welling up with tears as it does pretty much every week. I am also a 1st time mom and I relate to everything that you are going through.

My Jackson is about to turn one on Oct 1. Today I had to pop his hand for the first time as he was trying to touch the outlets. (They are covered at our house…but not at Nana’s etc., so we have to teach him “No!”) Those crocodile tears get me every time! I almost sat down and cried with him.

He’s just started pulling up in the past 2 weeks. I am TERRIFIED of him falling and hitting his head too. My husband says the usual “he needs to be able to grow up!” My response? “Let him do that on your watch!!”

Hang in there, honey! It’s terribly scary at times but oh my gosh! How fun is it!?!

Gloria on

Her husband must have an awesome personality because he is a bit hard on the eyes…..yikes!

Danielle on

Great blog. I love coming on here to read about the newest achievements Gray has made. Keep up the great work!

Tracy on

To Gloria: Beauty comes from within….which I’m going to say you are seriously lacking. The more tender, loving and kind a person is, the more beautiful they look. The more rude, insensitive, and unkind a person is, the uglier they become.

Kidd on

I have a 4 month old also (along with 2 older boys) so everything is new with her.

You have to credit your parents with raising such a down to earth woman, you will do the same for your daughter, I’m sure!

I love your blog and can’t wait to hear what Grey is doing compared to my Ryan!

Susie on

I love reading your blog and look forward to hearing all about that precious baby’s new achievements! You are a fantastic writer and you have a beautiful family!

Daria on

I think that Jenna’s blogs are the best ones I have read so far. There is no self-aggrandizing in them, always a lot of humour, plenty of feeling, humility, and they are always beautifully written.

I am sorry that some people find it in themselves to criticize photos of Jenna’s family members. She is sharing something deeply personal, I would have loved to see the woman (Gloria, I believe) who had the temerity to criticize Jenna’s husband’s looks, because I am certain that apart from being obviously shallow and not terribly bright, she must be certain that had she posted photos of her family, they would have been deemed paragons of physical perfection. Right, Gloria?

Jenna, you don’t need us to tell you that you are fortunate to have a beautiful family, but you need to know that your writing brightens up our days, and gives women hope that they can find happiness as mothers and wives.

Sandra on

@Tracy.Thank You for checking the meany with the crass comment. Jenna, I have so many of those stories about my siblings and I and reading your column brought back a lot of those memories.

Kim on

Awwww so cute love looking at old photos, such a beautiful family. Jenna and I share the same wedding anniversary!