Meet Later Mom: Mallory Kasdan
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Married
RESIDENCE: Brooklyn, NY
CHILDRENS NAMES/AGES: Zoe 8, Miles 4
I’m a voice actor for television and radio, and a writer working in several mediums. My first children’s book, ELLA, has just been published by Viking Children’s Books. www.ellathebook.com is the book’s website.
What was your road to parenthood like? When I was a single woman in New York I always watched mothers and families with a lot of interest and tried to picture myself as a mom, but it wasn’t until after I was living with my husband and we got married that becoming a mother feel like a real desire. My first kid was born when I was 34 and my second at 38. I was surprised at how overwhelmed I was by motherhood. The love was amazing and at times almost crippling. I felt a loss of control that I have now come to accept as completely normal but at the time it was intense.
Is there one project in your career thus far that you are most proud of, and why? I’m very excited about ELLA, which is a modern parody of Eloise, the classic children’s book. I think ELLA is fun and captures a moment in time, which happens to be the Brooklyn of 2015 where I currently reside and parent. By updating a classic, I’m able to make a bit of fun of what I see around me and pay homage to a book that I love. The illustrator I worked with, Marcos Chin, is a fantastic and witty visual artist, and I’m so proud of how the book looks and reads. ELLA is special because it is my first book, but also because the idea to write it was inspired by my daughter and has opened me up to the idea that writing for kids is something I treasure and want to do more of.
How does being a mom influence your work? What do your children think of all that you do? My kids think it’s cool that I talk for a living by doing voiceover work, and they loved getting to see my picture in the back of my book. I feel lucky to be able to do all of these different types of creative work that still allow me to take them to some of their afterschool activities. It’s not always easy to juggle all of the tabs I have open in my head but like ELLA and Eloise before her, I am rarely bored.
What was your motivation to write your book? I spent my 40th birthday a few summers ago at this very groovy hotel in Brooklyn. It had recently opened and I was there with my husband and some friends for a party and get away. My daughter, who was six at the time, had begged to come and stay in the room with us because she was very interested in hotels, likely from having read ELOISE a millions times. While we were enjoying drinks on the rooftop bar and people watching in the stripped down industrial lobby, it occurred to me how visually funny it would have been if my daughter had joined us at the hotel for the evening — if a bossy six year old was there mucking up all of this perfectly calibrated cool. And then I realized that if Eloise were to live somewhere in 2015, she would certainly be living in a spot like that hotel, in Brooklyn or somewhere like it, everything beautifully handcrafted and small batch and repurposed. It made me laugh, so i went home and wrote about it.
Do you think it’s tough for women to balance parenting, a personal life and professional pursuits? And, if so, how do you achieve balance? There is a balance probably — some perfectly honed calculation, but I don’t know any mothers who feel like, “Yep, I got this! All good!” I think we all feel like something is being sacrificed. If you work, you might feel like you can’t give as much at school or volunteering or spending time with your kids. If you don’t work, you might feel restless after a while for not being able to focus on yourself and your interests more. It is not a crime to think about your own needs and your relationships, and sometimes these things fall to the wayside with all we have to juggle as parents. I just try do the best I can not to be too hard on myself. I also try to have a sense of humor because without laughing at myself I would likely just melt into a puddle.
What do you see as the positives and challenges of having a child at age 35 or over? With my son, who came second when I was 38, I was much more physically exhausted then with my daughter. That is the thing I really noticed, and continue to notice, that my body is not what it used to be! But it was the right thing for me to wait to have kids because I simply wasn’t ready to do so in my 20’s, emotionally, financially or spiritually. When I first had my daughter, I wasn’t always able to trust my instincts as much as I have been forced to with the second kid, and i think that is because I have given in to the fact that I don’t have nearly as much control over things as I once thought I did. That comes with age and is ultimately a good thing.
Has anything about being a mother surprised you? If so, what? What do you love the most about it, and what is the most challenging? I’m not actually surprised by any of it and yet parenting continues to rock my world. It is nutty and chaotic and the deepest most earth shaking love I have felt. I love watching my kids emerge into their true selves, and it is such a joy to watch them experience things for the first time. My biggest challenge is my patience.
What do you most want to teach your children? What have you learned from them thus far? I want my kids to be confident and unafraid. I want them to feel things, including sadness and anger and still figure out how to be loving and empathetic towards their friends and towards themselves. They teach me to be open and honest and as fair as I can be and I want them to know I am always there for them, unconditionally.
Where do you turn for support as a mom? How important is to connect with mom peers? I turn to friends mostly, and I certainly gain a great deal of knowledge and connection to women and men writing about parenting and motherhood on blogs, in books, newspapers and magazines. It is great to have mom peers but I also think true bonds with other like minded parents can take time, and cannot be forced. When you become a mother it is a huge change of status and figuring out where you are in all of that is a big shift. Just because you have kids the same age doesn’t mean you will connect with every other mother out there.
What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a parent, particularly if they’re 35 or older? Ha ha. I don’t really have words of wisdom because I actually think being humble is the best thing you can do as a parent. The minute that you start feeling like you’ve figured something out — it’s like in the intro to “Sex and The City” when Carrie gets splashed by a bus. There are no guarantees in life of course, and you have no idea what you’ll get when you take the enormous step of having children. But I have found parenting to be the most thrilling thing I have ever done.
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 son or other parents?
My parents both were very supportive and really wanted me to get out into the world and try lots of things and be bold. My mom in particular was very energized by others and loved meeting and talking to people. That kind of curiosity lives on in my own kids, and as I see it emerge in their personalities and interactions it always makes me smile.