The Graphic Side of Pregnancy and Motherhood: Cartoons by Lauren Weinstein

motherhood, graphic novels, cartoons, female cartoonists, art about parenting, drawings of children
Weinstein's work ranges from touching to hilarious.

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 StoriesThe 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:

  • Birthing class 1 of 12
    Birthing class
    I love this. Before I got to the hospital, my natural birthing mantra was "squat down, pop it out, wrap it up, take it home." I ended up getting induced, begging for an epidural and having a C-section.
  • Three months 2 of 12
    Three months
    Such a cool way to capture those early moments! I find the self-portrait in the corner stunning.
  • The constant comi-tragedy of life 3 of 12
    The constant comi-tragedy of life
    Anyone who has ever tried to accomplish anything with a baby present can relate.
  • Ramona 18 months 4 of 12
    Ramona 18 months
    I wanted to include this drawing Weinstein did of her daughter not only to show her versatility as an artist, but also because it captures the warmth and admiration we all feel toward our sleeping young babes.
  • Sit down test 5 of 12
    Sit down test
    Oh God... I can't. It's like looking at a picture of myself 5 years ago. I remember the exact day I decided it was no longer acceptable to try pigtails...
  • Pottery Barn 6 of 12
    Pottery Barn
    Motherhood might mean feeling like you can't keep up professionally, but damn it your apartment/house looks great!
  • Internet 7 of 12
  • Museum 8 of 12
    That moment when you realize you're not the same anymore. Your life has moved forward, and it's taking you with it, so you better get on board! Yup. Been there, done that.
  • No time to hate 9 of 12
    No time to hate
    Kidding! There's always time.
  • Plensa 10 of 12
    I included this beautiful sketch not because of the work itself, but what Weinstein had to say about allowing herself the time to stop and draw this. "I have wanted to draw the Jaume Plensa sculpture in Madison Square Park since it appeared one day. I never have time to sit there and draw it because I'm always on the clock with babysitters. My mother-in-law is in town and babysitting is free. I realized this was the first time I'd actually been able to draw from life for more than 20 minutes since Ramona was born. I got home and wrote a letter to the parks department asking them to keep the sculpture up forever."
  • Lonliness 11 of 12
    The woman on the right is me while I was still married. TERRIFIED EYES!
  • Middle age 12 of 12
    Middle age
    And the girl on the left is me now. Ha! I laughed out loud when I saw this. I guess the lady on the right would be my mom. She's so over feeling bad, she's happy again, in a weird, wonderful way.

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.

Enjoy more of Weinstein’s great work at her totally engrossing website.

Article Posted 5 years Ago

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