Mindy Kaling may be one of the most successful women in television right now, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel the same insecurities about being a working mom that so many women do. Kaling revealed to People that she hasn’t yet found the perfect balance between motherhood and work and is still struggling to figure it out.
“When things get so bad that there’s a work emergency, I know I have to jump in there,” she says of work. “Then when I’m working and I’m worried my baby is going to start calling her grandfather Mama, I’m like, ‘Okay, I need to be back home.'”
As Raegan Moya-Jones wrote in her book, “What It Takes: How I Built a $100 Million Business Against the Odds“ both children and work “can feel like a calling, we can feel devoted to both. But which one takes precedence moment to moment? What is the cost to our children when we give our career priority in a given moment? These are questions all parents grapple with on a daily basis, even if unconsciously.”
This is especially true for those of us who don’t necessarily want to give up our careers when we become mothers. For Kaling, she was used to working and working hard, and she clearly has not given that desire up.
“I am someone who loves work. That will never change. But the kind of work that I do has changed,” she recently told The New York Times Magazine. “When I did the first season of ‘The Mindy Project’ at Hulu, they were like, ‘You could do as many episodes in a season as you want.’ And I was like, ‘Can we do the maximum?’ But waking up at 5 o’clock in the morning to do 26 episodes of TV is not something that I’m going to do again. Right now I’m surprised at how much I enjoy being a mom”
In fact, Kaling jokingly revealed that working too much actually worked in her favor when she became a mother, as it prepared her for how sleep-deprived she would feel after her baby was first born. “I was used to little sleep,” she told People. “When I was up every three hours to feed my baby, it was not a huge rude awakening for me.”
Still, in spite of being prepared for the lack of sleep, Kaling admits in a refreshingly candid confession that she wasn’t quite ready when it came to the timing of when she got pregnant, even though she had a desire for children. “I wasn’t ready,” she told USA Today. “I don’t think anyone is ever ready. I definitely knew I wanted kids, but the decision, it was not something that I had, like, planned.”
When The New York Times Magazine recently asked her about her decision to not publicly name her daughter’s father, Kailing set some clear boundaries for her family’s privacy: “My feeling is that until I speak to my daughter about that, I’m not going to talk to anyone else about it,” she said.
She draws inspiration from her personal life, but isn’t willing to share her entire private life with the world, and says she doesn’t know if she will ever write about her own experience as a single, first-time mom, but she does say that while “the three months after giving birth, especially since I did it by myself, were very funny, and at times very gruesome,” she has been really surprised by how much time she craves with her baby, as she wasn’t always sure she had a lot of maternal instinct.
“I’m very impatient, and having a baby requires an amount of patience that I was worried about. But they don’t tell you that the thing will look so much like you, and do things that are so sweet and adorable, that you’ll naturally not have the same impatience that you would have with a stranger or someone who works for you,” Kailing told The New York Times Magazine.
Kaling’s candor about motherhood and all of the surprises and challenges that walk hand in hand with its incredible rewards are a refreshing change to the same narrative we hear too often. As so many moms struggle with feelings of guilt and inadequacy, it would no doubt do us some good to see more and more of these conversations, both in Hollywood and in our own lives.
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