By Bianca Valentino
Kimya Dawson is well-known as one half of anti-folk duo The Moldy Peaches and for her collaboration on the soundtrack for the Academy-Award winning film Juno. The Olympia-based musician is about to release her seventh solo record Thunder Thighs. For a lady whose name means ‘silent’ or ‘silence’ in Swahili (lucky for us) she sure has lots to say — from the struggles of motherhood to self-love to learning guitar and overcoming the fear of playing in front of others.
How’s your day been?
It’s been pretty good, kind of lazy.
I read earlier today on your Twitter account that you were thinking about Dave Matthews and soap operas!
[Laughs] My daughter just started her new school – she’s five – and it’s just like this funny day where it’s like — I’m a mom! I just dropped my kid off at school in my van, what do moms do? Do they go home, have some coffee, listen to a little Dave Matthews and then sit on the couch and watch their soap operas? [Laughs] I just had this funny mom moment. I didn’t do any of the things I was thinking about but the thoughts crossed my mind and I thought it was pretty funny.
I think about stuff like that sometimes too. I don’t have children myself but there’s a school near where I live and when I drive past I sometimes wonder when what do the mums do after they drop their kids off?
[Laughs] Usually there’s something I could do like clean, or a lot of the time I swim so I could go to the pool in that time that I have. The few hours that she’s there there are ways to keep myself busy but today I was like I want to be one of those moms that just watches soap operas and drinks tea. I feel like that’s a pretty important part in providing sanity to mothers who are just constantly mothering. Having a couple of hours a day where you leave your reality and go into some crazy fake world, it’s nice to have that two hours escape before you have to go pick the kids up. Having my daughter is totally amazing and fun and I love her but it is totally exhausting!
I follow your Live Journal and a little while back you were talking about how after you had your daughter Panda you felt there was kind of a ‘cloud’ around you?
Yeah, I didn’t really realize what was happening until it started to go away. I’ve talked to a lot of moms about that and they all seem to say the same thing: when you’re in it you can feel a little dysfunctional and you can feel like you’re never going to be able to do the things again that you did before. I was like I’m never going to write another song! All I can do is lay in bed. I felt completely wiped and kind of crazy. I just didn’t feel like myself at all and I think part of that is that all mothers do is focus on their kid. Their brain zones in on that one thing — keeping your baby alive. While that is happening you’re also used to doing a lot of other stuff. If that happens and you’re trying to do all the other stuff, sometimes it’s just overwhelming.
A lot of my friends have had similar experiences where you’re like I know I should be playing music or going out but you feel like you can’t function. It wasn’t even necessarily postpartum depression for me but now that I’m more out of it and I look back I think, well maybe it was [laughs]. It’s hard to tell. I didn’t feel like hurting myself or anything or hurting anybody else, I didn’t feel detached from my baby or anything but I just felt like I couldn’t get out of bed sometimes. It’s really hard. I breastfeed my daughter for a long time and it wasn’t until she was until she was three that I felt like myself again, a little bit. Over the past two years, like now, I feel like oh here I am I know you! [laughs]. No one really talks about that so I thought, what just happened to me? Then I started mentioning it to other people and they were like, “Yeah me too!” You feel like you’re meant to be some kind of ‘supermom’ and you’re not meant to admit it’s as hard as it is and you’re not meant to admit that you’re not all happy and joyful and it’s all celebratory like, “Oh I’ve got this new beautiful baby and I should be in this super happy party mom mode”. It just isn’t like that but I think a lot of people are too scared to admit that. You can feel really down and really crippled.
That’s why I wanted to ask you about it. I think it’s important to give voice to that. I’ve seen a lot of my female friends go through the same thing and it can be really taxing on them.
Yeah, it’s one of those things I believe that people are shamed into not talking about. If you realise that so many other people are having that experience then it helps you while you are in it, to see what’s happening. If no one is talking about it then the people that are in the middle of it are thinking that something is wrong with them and that everybody else is having an easy time. If you just understand that it’s a part of … being a mom is fucking hard!
It’s one of the hardest jobs out there. Being a parent it’s like you’re totally responsible for this whole little being, this whole human life.
Yeah and it’s scary! Regardless of how much you love the shit out of your kid it’s not easy but everyone pretends it’s OK. We’re all secretly struggling.