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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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I was blissfully asleep on the couch while my little one was occupied elsewhere with toys, books and my partner. She got bored with what they were doing, escaped from his watch and, sensing my absence, set about looking for me. Finding me on the couch, nose-level, she peeled back my one available eyelid, singing, "Mama? Mama? ...You there? Wake UP!"

Sound familiar? Nothing limits sleep more than parenthood. And nothing is more sought after as a parent than a nap, if not a good night's rest.

But Mother Nature practically guarantees that you are likely to be woken up by a toddler—they're hardwired to find you (and get your attention) when you're "away."


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