Jenna von Oy’s Blog: Life After Celebrity Wife Swap

07/16/2014 at 12:30 PM ET

Look who’s back — it’s celebrity blogger Jenna von Oy!

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 currently working on two books, including a fictional novel for young adults.

von Oy, 37, wed Brad Bratcher on Oct. 10, 2010, and resides in Nashville with her husband and five dogs.

The couple are parents to daughter Gray Audrey, 2, and are expecting their second child — another girl! — in early November.

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

In her latest blog, von Oy reflects on her Celebrity Wife Swap experience and realizes there’s no place like home.

Jenna von Oy Blog
Photoshoot for the new website – Mimosa Arts Photography

My June blog was a whopper, so I hope you all had time to read it!

If you need a brief recap, it goes a little something like this: I’m pregnant (it’s a girl and she’s due in early November), Blossom is back on television after 15 years of being M.I.A. (the floppy, flowered hat trend could possibly be being resurrected across the globe as we speak, God forbid), and I was in an episode of ABC’s Celebrity Wife Swap, which just aired on Tuesday. (If you missed it, make a mad dash for to view it here!)

How’s that for some concise Cliff’s Notes?

Now that the show has finally been broadcast, and I’m allowed to discuss it without giving away any super classified, hush-hush secrets, I want to talk a bit more about my Celebrity Wife Swap experience; it was quite the grand adventure!

I’ll begin by saying it has surprised some folks that I agreed to participate in a reality show in the first place. I’ll admit it isn’t customarily my style, and I’ve turned down offers to do so in the past, as I didn’t want to expose my family life to that sort of scrutiny.

That said, this one made me rethink my outlook. (Mind you, I also blog about my personal life these days, so I figure I’m an open book at this point anyway!)

But why did I choose to do Celebrity Wife Swap, you ask?

As I mentioned in my last post, “Curiosity got the better of me. The challenge of being in someone else’s home, living in their (as it happens, very fancy) shoes for a week, and walking away with a dose of self-reflection and inspiration, was just too intriguing to pass up. The fact is, it wound up being a once in a lifetime adventure, and a bizarre/refreshing/thought-provoking social experiment, to say the least. It was a brilliant reminder of just how much my husband and I love one another and how perfectly we fit. There’s always more to learn in this lifetime, and I don’t expect my parenting or marriage education to end any time soon. I embrace being a work in progress.”

In short, we all had a blast and we have no regrets!

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting the whole affair was easy breezy. There were some exceedingly difficult aspects to filming the show, predominantly that it was the first time I’ve ever been away from Gray. Other than her twice-a-week attendance at a local daycare, we’ve been attached at the hip for the last two years. And we like it that way!

A week without my sweet little sidekick was a complicated and challenging pill for this mommy to swallow.

That subject is really what I wanted to focus on this month, as I imagine many of you have had to deal with similar circumstances. Of course that’s not to suggest you’ve had to leave your child and husband behind while you spent a week trading places with one of the Real Housewives of New York City (how surreal does THAT sound?!), but you get the gist.

Jenna von Oy Blog
Brad and me with Jill and Bobby Zarin after the CWS roundtable – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

I know a lot of you are working parents, and I have the utmost respect for you. The Wife Swap journey boosted that level of appreciation even more, as I experienced a small percentage of what you must go through on a daily basis. It’s hard to split time between work and family life, and it’s always painful to bid farewell to your child as you head off to work … No matter how passionate you might be about your career!

Admittedly, it’s also tough to avoid letting a little guilt creep in every now and then; sometimes our heads and hearts just can’t quite reconcile that matter. I certainly sympathize with those of you who dream of crawling back into bed to snuggle with your baby each morning, but pour yourself a strong cup of coffee and don your office clothes instead.

My husband and I spent a considerable amount of time deciding whether or not Celebrity Wife Swap was the right thing for us to do — not because we were against the idea of the show itself, but because it meant my traveling away from Gray for a whole week.

Obviously, our priority was how Gray might adapt to the time without her mommy. Ultimately, we knew she would be surrounded by love and support, since both Brad and my own mom were at the house with her the entire time. (Not to mention, who can refuse the golden opportunity to put one’s husband in close quarters with his mother-in-law for a week, in the presence of a camera crew? Not this girl, that’s for sure!)

We felt secure in the fact that our daughter is as well-adjusted as one might expect of a 2-year-old, and that she feels unconditionally safe and loved. Though it hurt my heart to leave everyone, I’m extremely thankful for a husband who embraced the process as wholeheartedly as I did. Otherwise it would have been impossible.

I am incredibly fortunate to have been able to spend every day of the last two years at home with my little girl, without interruption. I know that isn’t feasible for many of you out there and, as I touched upon earlier, I feel for those of you who work full-time and/or who had to go back to work immediately following the birth of your child. It’s taxing to be away from your children under any circumstances, even when you know they are in the most capable of hands!

Jenna von Oy Blog
With Gray and our pup Bailey – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

I can safely say that Gray handled the separation with far more grace than I did — which, if you knew her, probably wouldn’t surprise you in the least.

Although the growing baby in my belly kept me constant company, I’ll admit I was homesick from time to time. As a preemptive strike against allowing those feelings to make me fall apart at the seams, I approached the Wife Swap filming with as much positivity as I could muster. I acknowledged any grief I felt over leaving Gray, but I also tried to see the learning experience for what it was. Not that it was always an easy task!

As if it weren’t hard enough to be away from my family for a week, throwing pregnancy into the mix made for an interesting, hormonal “cocktail.” Yes, there were tears galore — you all know by now that I’m sappy, right? But there wound up being a sweet lesson in it for me too … that missing my loved ones and enjoying my alone time aren’t mutually exclusive; I’m perfectly capable of doing both at the same time.

Believe it or not, I made a point to appreciate the seclusion that the trip offered. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right? In the rare, quiet moments when we weren’t filming, I chose to accept the “me-time” as a blessing. I let myself live in the moment without guilt. I read a few books and savored sipping my coffee out on the patio. I enjoyed tranquil breakfasts and watched the ocean waves lap at the shore. I felt at peace during a week I feared would be too agonizing to be thankful for.

And I’m so glad I did; it wound up being very cathartic. While I missed my husband, daughter, and pups terribly, I also look back on the event with a full and happy heart. That’s all I could have asked for!

More importantly, Gray seems to have taken the experience in stride, and unquestionably proved that her growing independence is healthy and strong. (And that’s putting it mildly; I have a pretty tenacious girl on my hands!)

Despite finding some gratification in the journey, my reunion with Brad and Gray was emotionally charged and a huge relief. Our first post-filming family embrace is a memory I will hold onto forever; there is no doubt in my mind that we are better together than we are apart! As lovely as those silent moments of solitude were, I was eager to get back to the chaos and fun of my home life. It’s what my heart is meant for.

Jenna von Oy Blog
At the pool with Gray in the Hamptons! – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

Before I go, a quick update on both of my girls: Gray is doing wonderfully, and keeps us in stitches all day long. Who knew our 2-year-old would already possess such a sense of comedic timing? She often comes out with words and phrases that momentarily fast forward us to her teenage years … Which we are in no rush for, thank you very much. Even the eye-rolling has already begun!

But it’s her expressions that make us laugh the hardest. The other day she declared herself “unique” (I guess I can thank Sesame Street for that vocabulary word of the day?) just before arguing that she needed to wear her “fancy pink shoes” to Costco, in lieu of a more sensible pair of sneakers.

There are also quips that can be directly attributed to my husband or I. A few nights ago she looked at our Basset Hound (who was wreaking havoc, per usual) and exclaimed, “C’mon, dude, that’s enough!” That particular colloquialism was courtesy of Dad.

One morning, as I set out the appropriate accoutrements for her requested breakfast tea party, I asked if she wanted some fruit to go along with everything. She responded, “That sounds like a plan, Mommy.” In that instance, it was definitely one of my typical expressions shining through. If I thought we had to watch what we said before, now we’re on DEFCON 1!

Not to be overshadowed by her big sister, the little girl in my belly is getting on well too. She is a mover and shaker, constantly flipping and readjusting. I’m not sure if she’s practicing for her future stint on Dancing with the Stars 2039, or if she’s already searching for a way out. I hope it’s not the latter, as I don’t have the heart to tell her the exit is under lock and key for a little while longer.

We sing to the baby daily, and Gray has taken to sticking her tummy out and announcing, “My little sister is in my belly, but she’s not ready to come out yet.” That statement seems to be fairly amusing to the random strangers she tells, so at least we are providing folks with some entertainment.

I’m so looking forward to seeing Gray’s excitement when the new little one arrives! There’s nothing quite like sisterly love, and the new baby is in for a wealth of it.

As a reminder for all of you Blossom fans, don’t forget the old gang and I are back in syndication again! The 90s has returned in all of its “whoa!”-ful glory, so dust off that crazy hat collection and put on your dancing shoes. Check us out for an hour each weeknight, on the Hub Network!

I also just launched a new and improved website, if you feel like taking a look … it was long overdue, and even has some brand new photos to peruse!

Jenna von Oy Blog
Beach day at Jill Zarin’s on Tuesday – Courtesy Jenna von Oy

Until next time,

— Jenna von Oy

P.S. Thank you, Jill Zarin, for being so wonderful to my family while I was away. I couldn’t have asked for a more generous and nurturing woman to fill my shoes for the week. You will ALWAYS, as you so aptly phrased it, be Gray’s Jewish fairy godmother. We adore you!!

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Showing 18 comments

kelsey on

I love your blog! Cant wait to see the episode!

Dawn S on

Such a sweetheart! I. DVR’d last nights episode just to see you and can’t wait to watch it! Super excited Blossom is back on haha. Can’t wait to watch with my boys. Beautiful family, beautiful soul! Hope the rest of your pregnancy is lovely. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Lenora on

I enjoyed your program last night on ABC. Both families have their
own contributions to their loved ones and society and I hope all of you
keep in touch. Gray is a super cute daughter and so will your new
bundle from Heaven! God Bless everyone and best wishes to all.

Nicole on

I enjoyed you on the show! You seem genuinely sweet and down to earth.

I like that you addressed the grandkids and I understand that you are the mother of small kids. However, I wish you would have addressed the adult daughter. I recall Jill saying that the stepdad was not interested in her on the Housewives show. Now, she is saying that she doesn’t have a child and that her dog comes first. Shameful. A 22 year old young lady needs her mother. I wish you would have addressed that and attempted to enlighten Jill. She seems well-adjusted but that has to bother her.

BugsMama on

Another great blog. I’m due with baby #2 in early September and big sister Bug takes great delight in telling people that “Mama is has a baby brother in her tummy and I have a baby sister in mine”. Funny little things these wee girls are. Good luck with the remainder of your pregnancy.

Shaunette on

I soooo loved you in the show Blossom..andnow I have a new daily favorite to ready. Me oldest girl is 17 and my newest is 8weeks. I love the way you talk about family.

micky on

I saw her on celebrity wife swap you can tell how much you truly love grey you are a great mom as far as I can tell congratulations on your second pregnancy grey will make a great big sis

tinsel12 on

Your daughter is so adorable!

Kimberly on

The episode was very good with Jenna and the Housewives star. You can tell Jenna is such a good mom, her daughter Gray is just too cute! 🙂 Jenna and her husband share her anniversary with my husband and I. Jenna I enjoy your blog too.

Erin Wood on

I really wish she would have touched on if her and her husband are making time to go out alone. It’s so important to remember that you are still a couple and not just parents. I hope they are making time for a little romance.

shenna5 on

I am about half way through watching your episode of “Celebrity Wife Swap” on hulu. I had to take a moment, google your name and learn more about you. The New York lifestyle of Jill Zarin and her family were making my head hurt. I totally agree with how you and your wonderful husband are living your life and raising your family. Congratulations on the upcoming addition by the way. Gray is a beautiful little girl and Brad seems like a great husband. You have a very beautiful family and life. Keep up the great work! God Bless you and yours.

Kellie on

I enjoyed seeing you on the show. Jill, not so much. She was far too condescending and made some really nasty remarks about your home and your lifestyle. The one that really got me was when she kept repeating ‘kids are overrated’. That just killed me. She didn’t raise her daughter so she has no idea what it means to be a mother. God bless you and your beautiful family Jenna.

Kelly on

Watched the episode twice already. I loved this episode. I thought they both lived great lives. I must say that Jill is very sweet and charming and I loved how she wanted to spoil baby Gray. Also, Jenna is so pretty and what an adorable little girl. I’ve lived both lives….small and simple and now full and abundant…I prefer being in a position of giving…I know that is what I’m here to do. You can have a loving simple life and live a very luxurious lifestyle at the same time. I am now a fan of Jill and Jenna…great episode.

PS. Jenna….did you get to keep the gifts from your almost $5000 shopping spree????

Sandy on

Oh I love you Jenna, your acting on Blossom and I’m watching everyone is great! The both of you were so good together. Your daughter is so adorable. Love seeing you on TV in Blossom. Sorry I missed Celebrity Wife Swap.

You were so wonderful as Six, keep active love seeing you!

Kara S. on

I enjoy reading your blog. Looking forward to seeing the episode and watching Blossom again. I loved that show!

Heidi on

I watched the episode and have great respect for the way you’ve chosen to live your life. Gray has lovely parents 🙂 Many people say that if they only had money or success they would not change the way they live except to spend more time with their family. Sadly, once their wishes are granted, people DO change and family are usually the ones to suffer. So refreshing that you meant it.

I honestly feel like Jill and Bobby just have such empty lives. They are possibly the most out of touch couple I’ve ever come in contact with. You are being gracious when you speak about your experience. I had hoped sincerely that they would have learned from you…if for no other reason than their children and grandchildren who wanted a personal connection rather than gifts.

I wish you much happiness in your future 🙂 And I believe you will actually BE happy, Jenna!

maurice miller on

I think that jenna is so beautful,that i wish that she was my wife,but thats only a dream.take care if yourself and keep enjoying Gods blessings’Maurice

Melanie Hare on

You were so wonderful on wife’s walk. I think you and your husband and daughter are beautiful people and it’s so nice to see how important family values are to you. I thought Jill was nice also until her comment that children are overrated and then I was like what a selfish mean woman,her dog is more valued than her child. But then I see her chasing your dog around the yard to wash it like you asked her to and I thought she is a good woman ,just somewhat spoiled by her lifestyle. I believe she is open minded to change and a loving person