Why Laura Prepon Is Sharing Her Journey In Motherhood

“Nobody should feel alone in this experience”

You might know Laura Prepon as Donna Pinciotti in That 70’s Show and, more recently, as Alex Vause in Orange is the New Black. But Laura’s newest role is that of a writer — she recently published a memoir and guidebook, You and I as Mothers. It covers everything from Laura’s own experience to practical advice on food and self care. Shortly before the Covid-19 outbreak, Laura and her husband welcomed their second child.

Just in time for Mother’s Day, for our Wake-Up Call newsletter (subscribe here!), Laura spoke with our producer Emily Pinto about raising a toddler and infant while socially distancing in New York City.

Wake-Up Call: Can you tell us why you decided to write this book?

Laura Prepon: There are all of these wonderful books about pregnancy, but then after those nine months are over, you have the rest of your life! I felt like there were no resources for me to turn to that weren’t “parenting” books. As a new mother, I was so confused about my own feelings, and I was unsure of what to do or who to turn to. I didn’t feel like myself, and I had no resources to help me relate to this new version of myself, or to help me understand what I was going through and whether it was normal or not.

This isn’t just a “postpartum” book. It’s not just a book for the “fourth trimester.” Most people hear the word “postpartum” and they immediately think of postpartum depression. I used to be guilty of that, before I was a mother. But postpartum literally just means “after birth.” I wanted this book to speak to women in all stages of motherhood and to women in general. Even if you’re not a mother, there’s a lot you can get out of it.

Nobody should feel alone in this experience. While it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through, it’s also one of the most joyous and wonderful. To provide a resource for women that I felt like I didn’t have was really important to me.

You talk openly in the book about feeling postpartum anxiety after Ella’s birth… can you explain what that felt like?

With Ella, I was a complete mess. You see, I’ve always been the person who gets things done. I appreciate that people lean on me. If there’s a situation that needs to be handled, I am the one to handle it. I love being in that role, especially when it comes to work. With directing, which I’ve been doing a lot of, you have a lot of responsibility, and I thrive in roles like that. That’s why I feel like such a fish in water when I’m directing — because it really plays to so many parts of my personality.

So when I had my daughter, I felt like my life turned completely upside down. My anxiety was through the roof. I was grinding my teeth so much that I literally chipped my tooth in half. I was having panic attacks, which I had never experienced in my life. I just didn’t feel like myself. I turned to my husband and said, “The woman you married is gone. I don’t know who I am.” I felt like I couldn’t take care of myself, or my family. It wasn’t depression, it was the complete opposite. It was like the “mama bear” feeling times ten. I was constantly feeling like something would happen to my child, and that I wouldn’t be able to protect her. I didn’t know what to do. That took a long time for me to get a handle on.

I did a lot of the healing and research and investigation. The process of writing this book — of confronting my own childhood, and of talking to all of these different women at different stages of motherhood — that was very healing. My perspective totally shifted, and I healed a lot in the process. I wrote this book because I needed it. I was desperate for this book.

You write a lot in the book about your own upbringing, which was at times unconventional. Was that cathartic for you?

Absolutely, but it was also really hard. I used to be really into kickboxing, and watching MMA fights. I would fly around the country and watch these fights. I was a huge fan. I was friends with a lot of fighters and really appreciated their skills. One thing I learned from them is that you never learn a new move right before a fight, because you’ll always fall back on your instincts. I feel like that can be applied to motherhood!

When you become a new mother, you ultimately fall back on what’s ingrained in you, which is how you were raised. So naturally I looked back to my upbringing, and was faced with the fact that a lot of it was actually not okay. I really had to look back on my relationship with my mother, and for the first time in my life, I came face to face with the fact that some of what I was taught was very dysfunctional. But other things were wonderful, and that’s what I chose to pass down to my kids.

You just gave birth to your second child, a son, in February. Congratulations! How has this experience been different than the first time around?

With my son, it’s a totally different ballgame. I learned all of this wisdom from writing the book, plus my own boots on the ground experience I had with my daughter. So it’s like night and day.

After I had Ella, I went back to work on Orange Is The New Black after six weeks. With my son, my virtual book tour started six weeks after he was born. So I knew how I needed to be supported. My husband knew he was going to have to be very hands on, which he already is. He is truly the most incredible person ever. I don’t know what I would do without him.

The anxiety isn’t happening at all this time. It’s different. But it’s just as special.

You talk a lot about stress in the book… the unprecedented stress of having your first kid, and you offer practical solutions to deal with stress. Now you have a toddler and a newborn, and you’re living in NYC during a pandemic. How have you dealt with that?

It’s surreal. This is an unprecedented situation. None of us have ever experienced this. I am so thankful my son came before this really escalated.

Looking outside and seeing the streets completely empty — it’s devastating. When I think of my friends that are restaurateurs, or small business owners, I am so sad for them. What is the world going to look like after this? It’s so surreal to think about. To see what will happen economically, and have to explain this to our children. It’s going to be a different world. We are all changed forever after this.

When all of this started, we had already planned to be hunkered down and bonding as a family with the new baby, but by no means did we ever expect this to happen. We’re just trying to stay positive. We try to make each other laugh, and find moments of levity. It’s so easy to fall into the doom and gloom, because what’s happening is so scary. We do everything we can to stay informed, be smart, and make sure that our family is safe and protected and positive.

You talk a lot about the importance of community, about your mom squad… in this time of isolation how do you suggest new moms can maintain that sense of community?

Community now is more important than ever. It’s in our DNA to gather together. The phrase “it takes a village” is so true. It does take a village to raise kids. For new moms, the feeling of community is so important, and I worry that social media can be deceptive. It’s an amazing platform to be able to communicate and express ourselves, but one-on-one interaction is so important. I love my community on social media, and that I can go and communicate with people who have followed my career. But to be able to pick up the phone and hear a friend’s voice, or FaceTime and see them, that is so much more of a connection.

I think it’s so important for moms to do phone calls, FaceTimes, and Zooms. Seeing someone’s face is so different. You can prop up your phone and sit down and have a conversation, and feel almost like you’re physically with that person. Make a meal together! Grab a glass of wine and hang out! At least while we’re dealing with social distancing, talking to people through a screen can make it feel like you’re actually having a conversation with someone more than just texting or even talking on the phone. I think that’s important for everyone, but especially new parents trying to navigate this without the normal support systems in place.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

This originally appeared on Medium.com

Her Teen Was Treating Her Like Hotel Staff — So This Author Got Creative

From a minibar sign to “greenhouse tour,” Jennifer Weiner on the “mom notes” she’s been leaving her daughter

Ahead of Mother’s Day, our Wake-Up Call newsletter (subscribe here!) sharing how bestselling author Jennifer Weiner — whose new novel Big Summer is out now — is coping with having her kids at home all day. For anyone whose kids are treating them like hotel staff, see her creative solution…

Like many things in my life, the “notes from mom” began as an attempt to amuse myself. When we were about three weeks into quarantine, I was making my teenager’s bed. (Me: “Make your bed!” Her: “Why? I’m just going to get in it and mess it up again.” Me: “It looks messy.” Her: “So don’t look!”). They act like this is a hotel, I thought. And at least hotel cleaning people get tips!

Which was when it hit me: I could leave a tip envelope on her bed!

So it began. I realized there were plenty of other opportunities for me to gently remind my kids that they are not, in fact, living in a hotel by leaving hotel-style notes around, complete with hotel-style punctuation and phrasing.

If I’m cleaning my daughter’s room, I’ll leave a note on the door to tell her. Can’t find something? Before you yell for mom, check under the sink! Don’t just eat junk food; have a piece of fruit instead! And if you’re bored, I’m offering greenhouse tours — i.e., I’m showing off the vegetable and flower seedlings that I’ve grown from actual seeds.

So far, no takers. But I haven’t given up. Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and maybe one of the kids will indulge me.

As for those notes…

Here’s where it all began — the tip envelope on Lucy’s bed.

Yes, I have made tot waffles for breakfast. I’m not proud.

I am, indeed, offering greenhouse tours. So far, no takers!

I made the minibar to amuse myself (I actually have a dorm-size refrigerator in the basement — maybe someday, if this keeps dragging on, I’ll do it for real).

Follow Jennifer Weiner on Instagram and Twitter. Her latest novel Big Summer is out now.

This originally appeared on Medium.com

Books purchased through this link may earn us affiliate revenue.

Getting Angry at Your Kids Doesn’t Make You a Bad Person

We’re all doing the best we can, a leading expert explains

Today, Wake-Up Call (subscribe to our newsletter here!) is featuring helpful advice from Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, MD. He’s a leading child and adolescent psychiatrist, and the founding president of the Child Mind Institute. Read on.

We are in the middle of a pandemic that will have an unknown and staggering effect that touches every person on the globe: lives lost, families disrupted, futures deferred. In this context I am grateful to be safe, healthy and at home with my family. Having two of my three adult sons and their significant others living with us is one of the unexpected “silver linings” of this crisis. Having family dinners and spending lots of time with our 19-month-old grandson is a special bonus.

Still, just like none of us asked to be born, none of us asked to be forced into close quarters with our families with no end in sight. The first message I’d like to impart to anyone reading this is: being frustrated is not the same as being ungrateful. Every one of us is a human being thrust into a “new normal” of uncertainty and extreme circumstances. We are all doing the best we can.

And yet! I still find myself getting angry with my sons — and my wife, my daughter-in-law, even my grandson. And then I get angry at myself for being angry, and then I get angry at the virus, and the world, etc. This is understandable, but it’s not helpful for their mental wellbeing or my own. So, here are some quick tips that I try to employ for myself. Maybe they’ll help other parents calm down, let go of frustration, and be the best help to their kids. Remember — our kids didn’t ask for this, either.

Be reasonable and kind to yourself.

Give yourself permission to ratchet down parenting self-expectations. Choose not to die on any hills today. “We can explain to our kids that this is a unique situation and re-institute boundaries when life returns to normal,” says Dr. Dave Anderson, my colleague at the Child Mind Institute.

Hold your tongue.

You’ll be happier.

Encourage kids to open up.

For many, the most painful part of the crisis will be missing out on their lives. This is a real problem for teens whose main developmental task is to separate from you and go their own way. This is frustrating for you and your teens and also dangerous — so we have to talk about it. Give them room to share their feelings and listen without judgment.

Ask for help — and delegate.

It’s easy as parents to blame kids (particularly teenagers) for not pitching in. But did you ask? Particularly at a time like this, do not expect anyone to read your mind — especially your kids. Everyone who can pitch in, should. Give kids age appropriate jobs. For example, teens might be able to help mind younger siblings when both parents have to work.

Who are you actually angry at?

If you have a partner at home, agree that you’ll trade off when it comes to childcare. Don’t get angry at your kids because your partner isn’t supporting your need for some me time. It may feel good…but it doesn’t make sense. Particularly not to your kids.

If you’re beating yourself up about home life right now, put down the baseball bat and pick up a feather. The same applies to how you treat your kids. Ask for help — and say it out loud, too. And don’t keep your emotions bottled up.

If you need more help, we have tons of resources here, including links to twice daily Facebook Lives where you can ask your questions and get answers from our experts — many of whom are parents in the same boat as you.

Oh, one final tip: Don’t forget that we’re all in this together.

Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, is a child and adolescent psychiatrist, and the founder and president of the nonprofit Child Mind Institute.

This originally appeared on Medium.com

Laura Clery Is Here To Make You Laugh

The viral video star on motherhood, addiction, and her new book

If you’re in need of a laugh, look no further than Laura Clery. With millions of followers on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, Laura posts hilarious videos about the messy reality of motherhood and marriage, as well as comedy sketches about exercise and avocado toast. But Laura’s own story isn’t all fun and games. In her new memoir, Idiot, Laura opens up about her struggle with addiction—and how she got to the other side.

We chatted with Laura about Idiot, personal growth, and why she’s working to normalize breastfeeding.

Katie Couric: Your book has such a memorable title, “Idiot.” What does the word mean to you?

Laura Clery: I’m obsessed with any and all things funny. First of all, I just think it’s a funny word, and it makes me laugh. Also, on a deeper meaning, I’ve made a lot of idiotic decisions in my past. I talk a lot about those stories in my book.

Your book details your own journey through addiction. What motivated you to get help?

For me, “rock bottom” wasn’t totally external. I wasn’t on the street, I wasn’t homeless. I was still in my apartment. I was still managing to book jobs. In fact, I wasn’t even drinking or using everyday — that’s a huge misconception. When people think of alcoholics or drug addicts, they think, “Oh you’re waking up in the morning and taking shots or whatever.” There’s different types. I was a binge drinker. I would go weeks without. But when I would drink, it would release the phenomenon of craving and obsession, and I had no control.

I knew I had a lot to give, and I knew that I could never reach my potential until I put down drugs and alcohol. So it was very much that. When people are not living their purpose, they’re often depressed or anxious. I was depressed, I didn’t care if I woke up the next day. But I wanted to be happy. I knew I had to put down drugs and alcohol, and start walking through my fears, to achieve my goals.

Why did it feel important to share your story?

There are so many people struggling with addiction. There’s a lot of shame around it, and a lot of people don’t think there’s a way out. It was important to me to tell the story because I want people to know that if they’re in a place that’s unfulfilling — whether it’s work or relationships or whatever it is — that there is a way out. You can walk through that, and you can create a life beyond your wildest dreams of what is possible.

What quick advice would you give someone who is trying to escape this unfulfilling cycle?

Personally, I needed to have complete abstinence with alcohol and drugs, because I can’t do it recreationally. I can’t do it responsibly. Once I take a drug or a drink, it’s very hard for me to stop. I get dangerously impulsive, and it gets in the way of living a happy, healthy life.

For an alcoholic or addict, I would say the first step is to put down the substance they’re using. More generally, to live a more fulfilling life, a huge thing is mindset.

I grew up with no money, so I always thought, “Okay, life is a struggle. It’s always going to be hard, and there’s never going to be enough.” I would say, “Laura, all you need to do is book enough work to eat and pay rent.” I was always in survival mode. So I started looking into just changing my mindset, and deciding to have a more positive outlook. I got really big into affirmations. Every single morning, I’ll wake up and make a gratitude list. I’ll take a walk and think about all the things I’m grateful for. After that, I’ll visualize goals I want to achieve, whether they’re personal, work-related or philanthropic, and I decide to focus on what I do want, rather than what I don’t want.

We really like your brand of comedy. Has what you’ve gone through inspired your sketches?

Some of my characters are absolutely inspired by real life situations — you’ve probably heard the quote “Tragedy + Time = Comedy.” It’s so, so true. But once I changed my mindset and I started to get happier and clearer, I found that I was funnier. It’s nearly impossible to create comedy when you’re in a dark, depressed place.

Speaking of your purpose, let’s talk business! What should people trying to break into online content focus on?

Being authentic. Figure out what it is you love to do and what you feel your purpose is, and find a way to do that everyday. I think it’s absolutely the best time to be a content creator. We have global distribution at our fingertips. So there’s no one stopping you — but you.

When I was just starting to create content, I said, “Oh, I’m scared, I’m scared! No one’s going to watch what I do, or everyone’s going to hate what I have to say, or even moreso, not going to care.” I was petrified and crippled from fear. It was stopping me from starting. My friend finally said to me, “Laura, you’re an artist, so make art. Stay in the action and out of the results!” So I lived by that. I would create everyday and post it online, and three people would watch: my mom, my husband and me. But because I chose to stay in the action and not the results, I would just do it, do it, do it. The more you give, the more you get.

You touch a lot on motherhood in your videos. What aspects resonate the most with viewers?

People like to see the messy reality of motherhood. I was just shooting a sketch five minutes before you called that was about breastfeeding mom life. We were at the park. I was breastfeeding my son and just spitting out random comments to people. There’s so much funny stuff about breastfeeding and pumping.

In one of the scenes, I was pumping and havING an argument with my husband. He couldn’t stop laughing because it does look so funny with the cones on your breasts. It’s also funny when you’re in public and forgot your nursing bras, and you’re leaking through your shirt and you realize it at the store. Or you’re walking out on the street to get your mail and realize that you have one tit out — because that’s happened to me.

Why is it important for you to normalize breastfeeding?

You’re feeding your young. It’s the most natural thing you could possibly do. We want to keep our babies alive, and we shouldn’t feel judged for feeding our babies. I truly didn’t understand it was an issue until I became a mom and started posting about it. I would even have women say, “Cover up. That’s disgusting.” But I get so many comments that are like, “Because of your posts, I have confidence to feed in public.”

What’s next for you?

I have no f*&#ing idea. People always ask: What is the end goal? For me, it’s to make as many people laugh as possible on a consistent basis, and make a great living doing it. Right now, I’m at 7.4 million followers on Facebook. Continuing to make as many people giggle, smile and laugh brings me the most joy.

There might be a live tour coming. I am really nervous to go live, but I feel that I need to walk through that fear. There will probably also be another book. I really am interested in writing about pregnancy, parenthood and all of that.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

This originally appeared on Medium.com

Books purchased through this link may earn us affiliate revenue