There is a moment early in motherhood that happens to about 97% of the newly mothering population. That moment when you authentically admit to yourself: “I have absolutely no idea what I am doing.”
Where, when and how this acknowledgement takes place usually comes as a great surprise. It can be a whisper while you’re alone in your kitchen or show up in deep sobs while sequestered in the mall bathroom. For me, it happened one afternoon – while wearing the same yoga pants I had slept in – as I profanely insulted my breast pump. But although I didn’t feel like the poster child for new mothers everywhere, I deeply suspected I wasn’t alone.
I couldn’t help thinking, “Shouldn’t there have been a required class for this?” It felt like someone had thrown me off the side of a boat with no survival tools and then took off, ignoring my cries of: “Are there sharks here? And don’t you think I at least need a scuba suit? Or a snorkel?!”
As I was swimming out in the middle of that metaphoric ocean, another question plagued me: How was I ever going to be me again? I clearly needed to redefine myself. And as I struggled (oh yes, I struggled) I slowly came to the conclusion that my beautiful daughter deserved to know who I was. I had worked very hard at being this person and I was worth knowing. My work as an artist is all about survival. Maybe, I thought, I wasn’t giving myself enough credit.
So instead of simply entering into my daughter’s world, I invited her into mine. I thought to myself, I don’t really know what I’m doing… but neither does my baby, right? So how about we do this together? And then, I started being me again: an actor, a writer, a comedian, a host, a person who loves parties, who loves to dance, who falls on her face, who gets up again. A person who tries new things — like motherhood.
When my daughter was just an infant, I was asked to host a dance show and I was terrified — truly, I knew very little about dance, and it had been a while since I performed live. The old, pre-baby, me would have found a way to work a Dirty Dancing move into the show and dive off the stage, Jennifer-Gray style with supportive hands waiting to catch me. Who wouldn’t want to do that? But that’s crazy. I mean, I was new mom!
Until I thought: you know what’s really crazy? Giving birth.
So I did what came naturally and I took that flying leap off that stage. And really, I haven’t stopped since. That’s the person I want my children to know.