It’s trite and a huge understatement to say that your life changes when you have a child, and yet how else can one succinctly explain what it feels like, for example, to have your writing interrupted by, let’s say, a 6-year-old staying home from school because last night she had a fever of 102.2 (but now she’s wearing her new favorite lip gloss at a tea party with her dolls and stuffed animals and asking to have a playdate this afternoon) looking up at you with a mouth full of bagel, mumbling, “Mommy, by accident my bagel got crusty again.” So you microwave the bagel she’s been nursing since morning for 10 seconds so it will be soft again, and you sit down at your laptop hoping to be able to finish recounting the incident before another interruption comes your way?
Yeah. Motherhood changes your life. But does it change you, fundamentally? Motherhood has cajoled me into making choices I wouldn’t otherwise be forced to make, and the result of those choices have been beneficial for both my daughter and I. But there are paradoxical feelings that come with the accommodation of a child. In some ways I feel like a smarter, faster, wiser, better version of my old self, yet I also feel sluggish, run-down and slow. For example: My brain is mush, but I know how to prioritize now in a way that I didn’t before. Or, I still want to party, but my body won’t let me stay awake past 1 am. That sort of thing.
It’s difficult to convey these ideas in a concise format, but somehow Lauren Weinstein has done so in her somewhat dark and often hilarious cartoons. Weinstein’s books include Girl Stories, The Goddess of War and Inside Vineyland. Her work has been published in An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, The Best American Comics of 2007 and 2010, and Glamour. She used to live in Brooklyn and “is still recovering from having a baby and moving to the suburbs of New Jersey (it’s been two years).” To keep herself amused during her child’s naps, she draws comics about motherhood and has agreed to share some of them here. Her style is raw, her commentary is real, and her work is full of heart:
Weinstein told me, “When my daughter was born I was very worried that my career as a cartoonist would end–that even the desire to make work would wash out of me because my life would be so different. But I feel like becoming a parent has made me a real artist. Funny and amazing stuff inspires me every day, and now it’s just a battle with time to get it all down. I don’t wait for the muse, and I’m not as fixated on making the work perfect.” I expressed something very similar on a shoot yesterday. As much as being a parent has forced me to pick and choose the projects I work on more carefully, I bring more of myself and my rich life experience to the table each time. It’s a pretty satisfying feeling.