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WITHOUT using labels, who are you?

I’m Jessamine Starr. 46 years old.  I grew up in Roswell, Ga with unconventional artistic parents who divorced when I was 7. I was an only child until my half sister was born when I was 12 from my dad’s second marriage. I have a degree in literature from Montana State.  I have been married for 23 years and have two boys, 13 and 19.  I own the Good Food Truck and co own Pop Carts (both catering businesses) and Poof! (An event cleaning service).  I had a one seat restaurant called ett- in the woods by our house during the pandemic.  I write love letters to fruit and have a podcast with whetstone media called Fruit Love Letters as well as an instagram under the same name with the letters.  I have written and self published two cookbooks one was peek a boo bites (healthy snacks for kids) and the other was spring folds (spring inspired simple foods).  I also have an ongoing photo project that is currently on hiatus called nude twins with my best friend Jaime Ladet - we travel and take awkward photos of ourselves in nudesuits.


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Fruit Love Letters can be found on all the places where you listen to podcasts

Describe your kids. 

Sylas is 19.  He has always been very, very different.  He is introverted, creative, motivated, smart and tends to be a bit depressed. (We are a lot alike).  As a child he was difficult because language came very late and made him wildly frustrated.  He was also very particular about lots of things.  He was never diagnosed as autistic but he is definitely neuro divergent.  Or what I think most would say- an oddball.  He has always been wonderful at entertaining himself and coming up with elaborate unique artistic projects to do and he loves to travel and plan trips.  He graduated high school early because of the pandemic and has gone to nyu for the summer, worked across europe alone another summer and joined the film union and had a terrific job on a movie set and saved enough money to pay for most of his college. He is currently working on his own stop motion film that will have a debut at the Plaza theater in may, is going to Sweden for the summer to work on a farm and will attend SCAD in the fall.  All that said, he still really struggles with depression and social interactions.  He doesn’t have any close friends and is desperate for them - so currently I am his closest friend.  Which I adore and am glad I can be there for him, but I really want a social life for him.

Robinson is 13 and has always been easy and happy. He is a lot like his dad. He loves people and makes friends very easily.  He has very high morals and likes to do well in school. He has gone to a different middle school each year of middle school  (the hardest social years) and handled it so well.  He is very adaptable and easy going.  He loves video games I think mostly for the social aspect of them (which sounds weird but its true) and he has always loved games even though he gets really upset if he loses.  He is planning on graduating high school early so he can spend what would be his senior year in Japan on exchange.

When Sylas was a baby, he hated it when strangers would touch him. Even at 6 months, we joked that he would give people an “eat shit” look if they came over to rub is head or pat his cheek. Robinson always loved stranger attention and would totally ham it up.  So when they say they are born that way- I’ve seen it so. In many ways they are opposites - but they have always gotten along really well even with the 5 year age difference.  They have had very few arguments and have generally been very sweet to each other and enjoyed each other's company.  They both love traveling and learning new things and have more patience than I ever had at museums. As teenagers they have both been easy (not always happy- but willing to talk about it) and have been really good in school.  I can’t imagine either one of them ever getting into trouble.

Describe your household. 

It is mostly me and the boys.  George, my husband, and I are currently getting divorced. I was terrified of divorce and hurting feelings for so long I buried my own. Turns out, voicing my true feelings was the best all around. Not easy - even now - but so freeing (and clumsy and vulnerable). SImple lessons continue to flow later in life. I’m looking forward to many more. 

For a lot of the time the boys have been around I’ve been the parent home the most - though (George) used to be here a lot more, it doesn’t feel that foreign.  Most of my work I’ve been able to do from home so I’m often around or close by.  The last two years have been really tough around here.  

My dad that essentially lived with us for the last 10 years died last summer after a long fight with lung cancer and he really did a great job of tying the family unit together.  All during the pandemic we ate dinner together every night and played cards almost every night as well.  We also moved from the house we lived in for the last 20 years unexpectedly because of a big fall out with my mother.  So there have been a lot of changes and both of my parents disappeared from our lives. It feels a lot less like a family unit these days - though I do feel very close with both boys.     

Where are you from and where do you live, and what do you like about this place? Is there anything you loathe about it?

We had to move very quickly and unexpectedly a year and a half ago.  We rented a house in Ormewood park in Atlanta.  We got so lucky.  I adore the house.  It has a lot of character, light, is surrounded by trees, and is in a great neighborhood.  Robinson can walk to school. The backyard is huge - which is great because Sylas lives in a little vintage trailer back there and my dad was able to rent an apartment right next door so I could care for him in his last year of life.

 It is also really nice to be in town and close to all of our friends and the things we like to do and I really appreciate being able to walk out the door and go to the farmers market or go get an ice cream cone.  We used to live in the suburbs, but on a beautiful piece of property deep in the woods on two creeks and I do miss the deep woods. The house that we lived in required a huge amount of upkeep - there were always a million things to do on the list. And while I do like some of that, it is nice to have the looming “to do” list gone. I loathe the fact that we are renting and I signed a 5 year lease to get Robinson through high school.  It is expensive, but we could never afford a house in this neighborhood.  I definitely plan on buying a very small house in a cheaper neighborhood once Robinson leaves.

When and how did you last surprise yourself? 

The podcast really surprised me.  It was way, way out of my familiarity and comfort zone.  I had to do a lot of things I had never done before and honestly I thought “Well I’ll try my best but it will probably be a piece of shit.” And while there are certainly lots of things that I could improve upon, it was pretty great (I did have a very wonderful and supportive team with Whetstone media).  It even got on HuffPost's list of the top podcasts of 2022 - that was absolutely shocking to me.

What do you adore about being a mother?

The kids really do bring me a lot of joy.  I would have smirked at myself doing this (interview) years ago but at night as I go to sleep I think of what I am grateful for (it really does help this depressive leaning mind).  So often it is them.  I’m proud of them, they make me laugh, they are truly my companions and have made my life full. 

What do you despise about being a mother?

There are a lot of compromises that need to happen - at least for me - to be the mother I want to be.  I think I would have traveled more and not been with their father as long as I have been but there is a lot I have cherished about the family unit.  My solo days are coming up soon - I do look forward to that.

What's something you want to do differently than the generations of mothers before you? 

I do not get along much with my mother.  She (among other things) is very appearance driven.  One thing I have always stressed is that it does not matter what you look like- wear whatever, cut your hair however. I do want them to be healthy, but I have tried to stress that health and weight are not always connected and comparing yourself to others - while often impossible not to - is a fool's game.  I also try my best not to label things as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ (Though I’m sure I’ve slipped up some here). And put more stress on -  how do you feel about it? If it feels right then great - listen to yourself.

What is something you’re proud of so far in your motherhood journey? 

I’m glad I could be there and listen to the kids- I’m no helicopter mom and I’m not doing a bunch of stuff for them but I really feel like I know them and they know me and can count on me.  I’m proud of that.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about motherhood?

Well as I am learning right now- I thought when they turn 18 you are done.  While they may not be around as much they still need some parenting and support - more than I thought for sure.  When I was 17, I was out and a thousand miles away. That’s not always the case.

What do you think is the most common thread of motherhood?

It’s hard.  Don’t fool yourself - even with easy kids it is a lot of work, a lot of guilt - if you are doing enough and not too much and there are so many situations where you have no idea what the right thing to do is.  A million mistakes will be made.

Where and when do you feel most at home ?

I’m a big homebody.  I love being at home and on a schedule.  When that schedule is running just the way I like it- early to bed and early to get up I feel the most at peace and at home.

What energizes you?

 The outdoors - I would say the woods but I can get pretty excited about a ragged patch of clover in the city too.  

What last made you belly laugh? 

Honestly it's been too long since I had a pee in pants laugh but Sylas and I went out to a fancy dinner at Staplehouse last weekend and he wore a full length fur coat and we pretended we were royalty and it was pretty funny.

When do you and how do you feel totally relaxed? 

 Alone in the morning - especially during my morning run if the weather is just right and I don’t have a looming deadline.

What is something that makes you cringe?

Crowded bars with loud music, people screaming, leaf blowers, multi step instructions, strong perfume, repeating after someone, blue cheese

What is something that's stopped you in your tracks in the past year?

My dad’s death.  He died at home - per request and though he did his best to greet it with open arms (he made his own coffin- planned his own funeral, wrote his own obituary). He couldn’t help but to fight it and it was the hardest thing I have ever done.  It wasn’t pretty or easy or graceful.  I was stuck in a state of - I don’t even know what - it felt like shell shock for months afterwards. My body didn’t know how to function.  Really all the love to long term care givers out there.  I don’t know how people do it for years on end.

What is something you've recently ate/listened to/read/watched that really captivated you?

I just read Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake about fungus and it was one of the best things I have ever read.  Extremely interesting and eye opening.  Fungus is the most amazing thing - really I could go on and on.  I also just read Seasons by Ellen Meloy - a series of nature based essays that were so funny and just right - I would suggest that to just about anyone - especially those that don’t have a lot of time.  I read it all in maybe an hour.

Sounds of a Snail Eating and Untamed- the wildest woman in America also were stellar recent reads.

Listening- I think Hania Rani and Latto are my two favorite right now (opposites attract)?

The documentary on Netflix Lorena, Light Footed Woman was really great.  I also loved White Lotus along with everyone else. The Triangle of Sadness was pretty funny and poignant.

Also just loved watching all the trees burst into flower.

Who or what kind of mother do you look up to and why?

I think the ones with an idea of what kind of mother they want to be - with a plan of sorts.  Not that we all don’t have a million surprises but more about I know I want this and not that - maybe it’s not a plan, but a mother with real loving and listening consistency.  

When was the happiest you’ve seen your kid(s) and what were they doing?

They do love traveling.  I think we have all been happiest on our big adventures - it could be swimming in the springs in Florida or traversing a glacier in Iceland.  We are all up for and happy with an adventure. 

Describe a perfect day with your kids.

This Sunday I convinced both boys to walk to the farmers market with me (having the time and getting them to want to do such a thing seems to be harder and harder) Its a walk- maybe 5 miles round trip.  And we were fully engaged, laughing and having a great time the whole way there and back.  The funny thing is we actually didn’t buy anything at the market- it was just a good destination and a reason to be together.  All I need for a perfect day with them.

Describe a perfect day without your kid(s).

The funny thing is - it might be exactly the same- a long walk for no particular reason, but alone.

What do you dream of for yourself? For your children?

That everyone is doing what feels like the right thing to them and they can pay their basic bills and living expenses. Simple dreams.

How did you feel about being pregnant? What do you remember most about pregnancy?

I was generally not a fan.  I was not one of those people who  just loves being pregnant.  Both kids were late and those were the longest 10 days of my life both times.

What, if anything, do you want to remember about your birth story? Early motherhood?

Both were natural births at the hospital.  Sylas was in a tub.  It was pretty fast but rough - I tore all the way and it took a full year for my poor vagina to recover.  Robinson was easy - he was born before there was an inch of water in the tub or they could even get me on a birthing table.  Guess the exit was prepped.

Thoughts on…


While we might be born with our core personality - identity changes all the time, even within an hour.  Not just as a mother but humans can be a different people, even simultaneously.  

Healing (body, mind, and/or spirit)?

I have no advice here.  I have really struggled and continue to struggle with this.  It takes a lot of work- maybe that never ends.


I’m at the age where I am tipping into invisible woman years - and it's weird.  I don’t want to care.  I really don’t but have I stepped up my nightly skincare routine - yes! 

Again, I have a mother obsessed with appearance and she has had dozens of plastic surgery procedures and I just don’t want to be that afraid of getting old - plus all that stuff make you look really strange.  

Leaning into the aging gracefully - I still want to do a lot but if I have some wrinkles to show for maybe being out in the sun too much, laughing, crying or sleeping on my side.  I’m okay  with that.  I will say I’m much more in the body acceptance group than the body positivity group.

Blended families?

I have mixed feelings here- just based on my own experience.  I think making it a good experience is a real craft and the right mix of adult personalities. I’m sure it can work, and I’m sure it’s a lot of work.  Ada Limon has a great poem about this in harmony - ‘Joint Custody.’

Postpartum depression/anxiety/PTSD?

I feel very lucky to not have suffered from this, but I did suffer from the toddler blues (I just made that up - but it should be a thing).  The baby years are done.  They can walk and kinda talk and you start to think - hey, I can get my life back! But then you can’t really and you have lost yourself in those baby years - there is the big question of who are you now - what do you want now and how the hell are you going to get it when there is still so much mothering to do.


I’ll put this answer with gender constructs - did you know that most plants and quite a few animals can change sex, sexual preference or who carries and takes care of the children.  The thought that these are concrete with humans is ridiculous.  We all change - including how and who we want/like to have sex with.

Not that you can’t be happily with one person for a long time - just be open to how that works might change a lot.

Body image?

Something I have really struggled with.  I think the less we talk about the way someone looks the better aaaand it is basically impossible to escape that.  

Family building?

These moments when the family is together doing things in harmony - for me it is mostly summer trips.  They are precious.  Honestly the glue that held us together.  I’m so thankful they (and I) will have those memories.  


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