Don’t mess with Jena Willingham.
The 31-year-old Beulah, Ala., mother of three has gone viral with a comical back-to-school Facebook photo that has won the internet the past two days. It has been shared thousands of times and picked up by online sites across the world.
The photo, which was staged on Sunday afternoon and posted Monday around 6 a.m., shows Willingham on a float in the pool, drink in hand, as her three children look less than pleased about the change in circumstances.
As the photo went viral, being picked up traditional and online news outlets across the world, some attacked Willingham as a self-serving indulgent woman.
She fought back on Facebook, posting one of the offending comments.
“Meanies y’all,” she posted. “I have a job. Live in a trailer. Borrowed a pool. But I do need to exercise.”
“And the drink,” she said Tuesday afternoon between fielding calls from journalists across the world, “was just orange juice. And I didn’t even drink it.”
Still, it hasn’t stopped some from calling her the “Mimosa Mom.”
“I am a rural mail carrier,” she said. “I don’t hang out at the pool all day and drink.”
Now, she is a social media celebrity.
Since the Ledger-Enquirer reached out to her at noon Monday, Willingham has done more interviews than most politicians. She has talked to “Inside Edition,” Buzzfeed, NBC News, US Weekly, The New York Times, local Fox stations all over the place, Mashable, USA Today, Yahoo News and Refinery 29.
She has been featured on websites in the United Kingdom and Germany. The Beulah girl has gone global.
“I thought I had made it when I did the interview with the Ledger-Enquirer,” Willingham said. “My mother used to deliver the paper and I would ride around with her in the middle of the night.”
Her husband, Edd, even got in on the fun Tuesday. A logger, he posted a photo of his lunch in the woods, a can of SpaghettiOs.
“When your wife’s rich and famous but you still eating cold SpaghettiOs for lunch at work,” was Edd’s observation.
Her children attend Beulah Elementary school where Wrangler is in the sixth grade, Emmy in the second and Sykes is in pre-K. They have had differing reactions, Jena said.
“The older one likes being famous and the other two are kind of oblivious,” she said. “But when I did go pick up Sykes Monday everybody in the class started clapping.”
Asked if there was a lesson from the viral posts, Jena Willingham repeated what she told a Buzzfeed reporter who asked the same question.
“You know, what I have taken away from this is that you should not feel guilty about needing a break from your kids,” she said.