Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!
Here's How Below Deck Changed Jen Howell's Relationship with Her Daughter
The Below Deck stewardess opens up about the difficulty of being away from her 9-year-old while on charter.
Jen is mom to 9-year-old lookalike daughter Isabella, and it hasn't been easy for the single parent to stay connected to her child while she's on charter for weeks on end. But Jen didn't exactly expect it to be, either. "Going into it, I knew it was gonna be a challenge. I mentally prepared myself the most that I possibly could," she told The Daily Dish earlier this season. "There were things that were really tough for me, having Kate [Chastain] always breathing down my [neck], Bri [Adekeye] coming at me, and Chef Matt [Burns] just kind of being in a funk himself. It was a little hard."
Unfortunately, Jen was without her usual source of support to help her get through those tough times this season of Below Deck. "So normally if I have a difficult day, I come home to my daughter every night, and she just has this way of making me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and I didn't have that luxury," Jen explained. "Oftentimes, we would be so far at sea that we wouldn't have satellite, WiFi, the ability to communicate with my daughter. So those were probably the toughest of times because if I did ever — when I last spoke to her — promise to talk to her again tomorrow, and then I couldn't get service to be able to call her, I felt like I was breaking her heart into a million pieces. So that was tough, but I learned not to set those expectations for her and myself. Just, 'Mommy will call you soon.' I can't promise you when it's gonna be, but I will call you and I love you.'"
Jen's father, who is retired, looked after Isabella at their Atlantic Beach, Florida home while she was away on charter. "They don't really get to see each other that often," Jen said [Jen's father lives in Pensacola, Florida, which is about six hours away from her home]. "So it was nice for them to be able to grow their grandfather-granddaughter relationship together."
The Below Deck stewardess said it was challenging to find a fellow crew member she could confide in about her struggles during her time away from her daughter, especially since she's one of the only parents on the team. "So it was one of those things where it was really just myself, picking myself up in the toughest of times," Jen said. "When you're thrown in these situations, it's kind of sink or swim. You really grow and discover things about yourself that you weren't aware of before. And you evolve into this better person."
So Jen is now looking to the good things that came out of this difficult situation, even if it wasn't so easy to do so when she was living it. "I always try to find the positive in things, even when they're really, really difficult times," she said. "I think that every tough situation makes you grow in some way, and I think that the six weeks I was at sea definitely made me appreciate my daughter so much more, if that was even possible."
Check out some throwback photos of Jen and the rest of the Below Deck crew, below.