Meet Later Mom: Kuwana Haulsey
NAME: Kuwana Haulsey
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Married
RESIDENCE: Los Angeles, CA
CHILDREN’S NAMES/AGES: Kingston James, 4, and Jackson Chase 7 months
I’m a writer. I started off as an actress, but I kept gravitating back to the written word. I’ve always been a writer, for as long as I can remember. My 25–year–old nephew is quick to point out that I’m the only person he knows (who is not yet drawing a social security check) who will admit to having written on a typewriter. He can’t understand how that’s possible, since you can’t even log on to the Internet from a typewriter. Yet, somehow I managed.
I started out writing novels. My first two books were “The Red Moon” and “Angel of Harlem.” Currently, I do a lot of freelance writing and editing. My latest book is a memoir called, “Everything I Need to Know, I Learned From My Six Month Old: Awakening to Unconditional Self Love in Motherhood.”
I write what’s on my heart, and these days my children are on my heart. How they view the world fascinates me. I see myself anew through their eyes everyday. It’s an incredible journey so far.
People can find me at www.KuwanaHaulsey.com.
What do your children think of your work? What led you to write your book, and what is the message you want readers to take away from it? At this point, my son Kingston mostly thinks my work is a distraction from the real important things, like taking him to the pool and the train park. He doesn’t care that he was the catalyst for the new book. How many four–year–olds can say that they’ve had an entire book inspired by them? Kingston is not impressed. He routinely comes over to me and says, “Mommy are you tired? You look tired. I think you’re done with this now. You need to have a play date.” Meanwhile, he’s patting my cheek with one hand and quietly closing my laptop with the other. The baby is seven–months–old at this writing and too young to have an opinion about my writing.
While neither of my sons is very interested in what I do yet, I find myself writing to them, and for them. I want them to know how much their presence has impacted the world already. “Everything I Know” transpired for that reason. I also wrote the book because after becoming a mother, I noticed how many people in the media seemed to be talking about all the negatives associated with motherhood, how hard and unrewarding it can be. That was not my experience at all. Motherhood is hard, yes, but it has also been the catalyst for the greatest growth and inspiration of my life. I wanted to engage with the people who were having that conversation.
One of the insights that I hope readers can take away from the book is the idea that we are all born perfect, whole and complete and, contrary to what our experiences might have us believe, we remain that way. Fundamentally, at the core of our being, we lack nothing. Life offers us the opportunity to learn to love the perfection of our imperfection. We can choose to remember and reveal the truth of who we are on a day-by-day, even moment–by–moment basis.
What do you see as the positives and challenges of having a child at age 35 or over? Having children at the age of 35 and over is a blessing, the way I see it. Personally, I feel that I’m much more emotionally available and transparent in my dealings with my children, because I know myself much better than I did when I was younger. I don’t (or try not to) push my stuff off on my kids. I recognize when I’m being triggered or when Kingston is acting out because he’s mirroring something that is active in my own consciousness. I deal with myself first.
And (news flash!) I know that I don’t know everything. I’m not supposed to. Anyone who pretends to know it all is lying to somebody−either me or themselves. So I don’t hesitate to look for help or guidance when I need it. I ask. I listen. And I laugh a lot.
Being an older parent has made me aware of the depths of my emotional reserves, accumulated over forty years of trial and error. I just wouldn’t have had the experience or the understanding that I have now if I’d become a parent at an earlier age.
Having said that, there are challenges of course. I’ve felt as though I’ve taken some giant steps back in terms of pushing my career forward. Being present with my children on a daily basis has meant making the choice to slow way down. That’s very difficult for me. Talk about trial and error… there’s been a lot of error in that regard. But I’m grateful for the ability to make the choices I want to make, rather than feeling compelled to follow one path or another. It helps me to keep things in perspective when I remind myself that I chose everything that has shown up in my experience, the “good” and the “bad.”
Has anything about being a mother surprised you? If so, what? What do you love the most about it? I was surprised by how thoroughly I enjoy being with my sons. Before I became a parent, I think I envisioned parenthood as a one–way street, with the mother and father giving, and the children receiving. My sons have taught me the meaning of reciprocity. Kingston is funny and wise and observant and he makes me question the way I view the world. What have I overlooked today? How can I be better? How can I be gentler with myself, the way I am with Jackson? I find myself walking the razor’s edge regularly in terms of learning, stretching, questioning and being bold. It’s scary and exhausting. But that’s also what I love most about being a mother.
What do you most want to teach your sons? What have you learned from them? I can’t teach my sons what I most want them to know: how to live a life of authenticity and purpose. Purpose, self–mastery and authenticity are things that only they can gift themselves with over time. I want to give them the space to learn what it feels like to live a life based in excellence and self–awareness. I want them to grow up surrounded by the conditions that make authenticity and purpose most welcome. I’ve learned how to commit to accessing these qualities for myself specifically because I want to be an example for my sons. “Do as I say, not as I do,” has never worked for anyone, anywhere, ever. So, I hope to guide them by my own actions.
What influence, if any, has your own mother or father had in your life and in your parenting? My parents allowed me freedom. I pretty much did as I pleased and learned to take the consequences of my own actions because there was no interference from anyone else, no one else to blame. Clearly there are pros and cons to this way of parenting. But what it taught me is an appreciation for the intelligence and resourcefulness of children. As a result, I don’t ever talk down to my son. I expect him to understand me and be able to make himself understood. I am honest with him (in an age appropriate way) and he confides in me. I listen to his ideas and sometime they’re better than mine. And I can admit that!
Where do you turn for support as a mom? How important is to connect with mom peers? How do you think an organization like Motherhood Later…Than Sooner can be helpful to later families? I haven’t been very good about reaching out for support from groups or organizations. I have a goal of becoming better about that. But in the meantime, I have a small circle of friends that I really count on. It’s also been great that I’ve truly liked the parents of my son’s friends. We encourage each other and compare notes and laugh at the silly things they do. I think it’s extremely important to have that sense of community.
Motherhood can feel very isolating, and it’s good to be reminded on a regular basis that there are many people around you, supporting you and experiencing the exact same things that you are. I think organizations like Mother Later… Than Sooner add to the equation in a wonderful way because they provide a space for gathering and connection. The exchange of ideas that takes place on this site (and others like it) can help us navigate the areas of parenthood that feel most confusing or overwhelming.
What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a parent, particularly if they’re 35 or older? Go for it! It’s awesome. Even the annoying, crazy–making parts are awesome.
When I was pregnant with Kingston, I got all kinds of unsolicited advice everywhere I turned. Most of it had to do with being told to prepare to have no life and never sleep again, etc., etc. None of this was comforting or helpful or even informative. I just started tuning people out. Then one day a friend of mine gave me the best words of wisdom I’d encountered. She said: “Be prepared to fall in love like you’ve never been in love before.”
That was the truth that I wanted to focus on, and that was the truth that I experienced. What we put our attention on grows. Her words encouraged me to put my attention on love, rather than fear and doubt. It was such simple advice, but it worked wonders for me. So, if you want to become a parent, just do it. And focus on the experience of unconditional love that now has an opening to come flooding into your life. But this experience of unconditional love is not only for your child. It’s also meant to be experienced within yourself. That’s the trick, the growing edge.
Oh, and remember to make out a will. (I hate to get all practical on folks, but the practical stuff is important too.)
When you became a mom, did your own mother or father share any particular sentiments or advice that really resonated? Or do you recall anything from your own upbringing that really stuck with you that you’d like to pass on to your children or other parents? For someone who has written a self–development memoir, I don’t come from an advice giving type of family. My parents and grandparents are more of the mindset that if you’re old enough to have a child, you’re old enough to raise it. Good luck! Make it happen! But maybe that’s what I’d like to pass on to my sons: the ability to see the world through their own eyes, without needing to use other people as a filter for their experiences. Of course, wise people take good advice when it’s offered and learn from the experiences of others. But life is also meant to be lived on one’s own terms. There’s a lot to be said for trusting your heart and standing in your own intuitive wisdom.
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