Have you ever considered the duality of a parent and a child and what they can learn from each other? In this episode, Camille welcomes Rupa Mehta, the author of Someone Calls Me Mommy, an illustrated book with poems about early motherhood that helps capture the precious fleeting moments between a mother and a child.
I think in those moments I wanted to remember her point of view, hers is going to be different than mine and I don’t have to project that onto her. So, we can both live in this dual experience together.
Rupa shares her journey in writing her book after dealing with her mother’s loss and daughter’s birth at the same time. She dives deep into how both a mother and child can learn from each other in order to build a stronger mutual connection.
If you give yourself the space to share openly or say like, “Hey, we both have emotional and physical weight that weighs us down,” then you start the pathway to connecting.
If you’re interested to learn about how you can build a deeper connection with your child, tune into this episode to hear Rupa’s advice on how you can deal with motherhood through both teaching and learning.
I’d want this book to be a fresh take on motherhood, that motherhood and childhood experience, that duality of it linking them together more powerfully beyond the mommy and me pajama set I think is a really beautiful aim for us as a society to go towards.
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RUPA MEHTA [0:00]
Not that there's a silver lining to losing a parent while having a child, but the interesting silver lining in looking back is that motherhood didn't feel as overwhelming in the traditional way I thought it would be. And so, I had a lot of space to cry about my mom, but I felt like I was keenly aware of my energy around my daughter.
CAMILLE WALKER [0:36]
So, you want to make an impact. You're thinking about starting a business sharing your voice. How do women do it that handle motherhood, family, and still chase after those dreams? We'll listen each week as we dive into the stories of women who know. This is Call Me CEO.
Many times, we ask kids, what do you want to be when you grow up? But so often, we forget to ask, what do you want to become and how do you want to feel? And this next interview with Rupa Mehta is all about her experience of showing the duality of a parent and child and what they can learn from each other. Let's dive into this story.
Welcome back everyone to another episode of Call Me CEO and this episode is extra special because we are talking about motherhood, duality, and also what it is that you have to teach someone now that you stand where you are. And my guest here is Rupa Mehta and she is the author of Someone Calls Me Mommy. If you're watching this on YouTube, I'm showing the actual book in my hand and it is such a beautiful unique story written about mother and child from each perspective and it's unlike anything I've ever read before. So, Rupa, I'm so excited to talk to you about your book and what a beautiful experience this has been for you. Thank you for being on this show.
It's such an honor to be here. I'm so excited to dive deep with you. I feel like I'm going to learn about my business and myself just interacting with you.
I'm happy to do it. Any time that I have conversations like this, I feel like I grow as a person in understanding how business can work and develop and it is I hope the same for the guest too where as you're explaining your passion for something, you ignite that understanding more within yourself. So, I hope that that is the case. And please share with us your journey and what brought you to writing this book.
Yes. I'll start with the singular moment that started it all, and then maybe take a step back. I was hanging out with my daughter who's going to be three on Sunday last year and she had been jumping in a lot of rain puddles. And it was a long morning and she's obsessed with these yellow rainboots which I feel like every child goes through. She wants to sleep in them all the time.
And I was like, "We have to take a nap." And she just looked at me and she's like, "Mommy, I don't want to take nappy. My rainboots are happy." I don’t know just the way she delivered the line, it was poetic. It was sweet. I just loved that she gave the rainboots a happiness thing and the way she delivered it poetically, sadly, uniquely, I don't know what the right word is, reminded me of my mom who had passed away not that long ago, about a couple years ago.
And so, I think it just unlocked something in my brain where I've been wanting to heal from the loss of my mom. I lost her at the same time I had my daughter and just that night I started writing poems from my daughter's perspective and my perspective about motherhood. And whether it be napping, breast feeding, working, all the things that come up and I felt like I could really access my daughter's voice because she reminds me so much of my mom who's name was Nalini.
My mom is a sassy Mother Teresa is the way I describe her and my daughter feels that way too. And so, it just flowed out of me. It felt like a very cathartic moment. And I'll just end your question saying that I think that my entire adult life, all my professions I've done has always been about education and learning a child's perspective. So, it felt like a very natural extension for me. It's been very healing to write this book.
I can't imagine the process of losing a mother. I actually was just watching This Is Us. I don't know if you're familiar with that show or not, but there's a part of that episode where he says, "I don't have a mother anymore" and he breaks down into tears and I'm like, "Ugh." Going through that process of losing someone so integral to who you are person and that nurturing, I can imagine that this was a very cathartic thing to do. And I'm curious as you wrote this book, what was it that gave you the idea to show the duality of both the child and the parent?
Not that there's a silver lining to losing a parent while having a child, but the interesting silver lining in looking back is that motherhood didn't feel as overwhelming in the traditional way I thought it would be. And so, I had a lot of space to cry about my mom, but I felt like I was keenly aware of my energy around my daughter, maybe in ways that I wouldn't have been aware of before. And as a result, I just picked on her cues and her personality and her facial expressions I feel like maybe earlier on than I would have.
I always thought my mom would be around. I'd have this big family hanging with my daughter and me and that just wasn't my journey and that just wasn't the case. And so, I think in these very isolated moments with my daughter, I really felt like it's just you and me. I'm the top female dog in the family right now. I thought I was going to have the emergency contact of my mom. I'm now the emergency contact for everyone. It was a play on roles that I wasn't prepared for, but as a result, I was more aware of my moments, if that makes sense.
It does. It really does. What do you think is something of a legacy that you're able to infuse into this book that came from what you've learned from your own mother?
I'll give you a quote from my mom. Like if I called her and had a bad day, she'd be like, "Rupa, you should be like Walgreens, hanging out in the corner of happy and healthy." She just had these very funny one-liners. She was born in India, came here to this country, really created this beautiful life. And the way she pieced together words, I just always found very sweet and innocent and childlike.
I remember she'd be like, "Sometimes, you just have to shut up, sit, and smile." And she didn't mean it like shut up in an aggressive way just like, "You have to shut your mouth." And so, I feel that that energy when I see my daughter, I see that energy a lot. And I see that in a lot of toddlers, just it is what it is and piecing together these amazing sentences. We're able to bear witness every day.
And so, I feel like the legacy of my mom is already in my daughter and the legacy is continuing because I feel like I'm getting the same lessons again. I could get obsessed about naptime and I think of something from my daughter's perspective and it’s not a big deal. Are you always sleepy at the same time? No. So, it's in a way to channel the wisdom of a grandma that I was hoping was going be there and then the childlike wisdom that we all get exposed to.
I love that so much. Now before the call started, you mentioned this quote, "Who you are now and what can you teach us is a perspective that you've tried to infuse into your life and in your business." Can you expound upon that a little bit? I think it's so beautiful.
Yeah. I run a non-profit called NaliniKIDS and I ran a fitness wellness studio in New York City for the last 20 years called Nalini Method. And in both those business environments, I was always in a teaching role, but I always felt like I was gaining so much more from my students. And so, when you level up that playing field and enter a classroom and say that, "Yes, I have information to share, and so do you, and who are you now, and what can you teach me?" Rather than going in and asking a child, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" or going into an environment with another fellow fitness professional and just being like, "This is all my stuff."
The exchange, that's where the real value comes from. I love that when I communicate with my husband or my friends, I like the exchange of ideas. And so, why wouldn't a child like that? And everyone has such different experiences. And I think of my daughter now, she has a wealth of experience. Right now, she's at this little school. She might have learned something in the day that could benefit me. And just the way she phrases something could definitely teach me something. So, I think putting other people in the role of teachers has always been a good habit to teach and to practice in my own life.
Yeah. And I think that there's so much to be said for that because as parents, especially as kids get older and they're all so different. I'm the mother of four and the oldest is almost 14 and 11 is my next and then I have an 8 and a 5-year-old. And they all have very specific ideas of the ways that they see the world and some of them are very different than the way I see the world. And just when you think you have it figured out, the next one comes along and they're like, "No, I see it this way and this is what seems fair to me or this is how I paint the world." And I think that that's really why parenthood is so worthwhile is because you are having to adjust and learn all along the way. Would you agree with that?
Yes. You get to be student again. I remember one of these experiences I had with a seventh grader in a middle school. And I gave him a blank piece of paper and it was just an art activity. And I said, "What does this blank piece of paper need to become a work of art?" And he's like, "It already is a work of art. It's a blank piece of a paper." He just gave me all the reasons and I was like I think of it as a blank canvas and stuff, but he really thought that that was the piece of art.
And I don't know, in just moments like that, you really had to make yourself available to take that in. And so, when you do, I think it's priceless. And I think it happens often with toddlers just as they're learning language and they're figuring things out, there's no filter. They're just very upfront with what they want.
I know potty training. I learned a lot during the potty-training phase. I'll put it that way. Don't want to take you into a different direction on the podcast, but let's put it this way. I learned a lot from her and verbalizing it, giving her privacy, all those things, and it made me realize I have to respect the independence even at a very early, early age.
Yes. Oh my goodness, potty training. If there is a crown that could be earned, it would be from potty training children, period. So, those of you who can't see, Rupa is pregnant. She is five weeks away from having her next baby. Are you having a boy or a girl?
Okay. I was going to say if it's a boy, get ready for a really different scenario with the potty training because my son, I kid you not, he saw a potted plant and would whip it out in front of a restaurant facing a street and wanting to go to the bathroom right there. And I'm like, "No, this is not okay. This is not." But he's like, "But it's green and it's like at home in the grass."
So, yeah, I would just say every kid is going to be so different. And especially I think with potty training, it is such an interesting dynamic of control and incentive and if they even want to. It's just such a power play that goes back and forth. So, best wishes. I was really happy when I was done with my fourth thinking, I never have to potty train anyone again because that is the labor of love.
It's so interesting because in those moments, I realize how much I've been trained as an adult. Someone at some point taught me how to share and listen and all these things. So, not that I thought potty training would come naturally by any means, but really, you're there step-by-step, but every step of the way, it's just a learning opportunity. Like the way I learned it, now I know I had an older brother and I don't know, I tried to be him and I tried to stand up and it did not work out for me. It's just that all these little moments are true learning opportunities and if you can voice them, it reminds me of that movie I loved so much Look Who's Talking. Did you ever see that movie?
Yes. It's been a minute, but yes.
From a long, long time ago and I just remember cracking up whenever there's a voice put on a baby or someone or you can see what their personality is like, I think it's so eye-opening.
Yes. It really is. Okay. We're going to take a little step into this book. I'm going to show you the child's perspective and then I'm going to read the mother's perspective and this is called another mommy. So, I'm going to start with the tail of the other mother. So, this is the mom's perspective first.
"The other mother doesn’t get upset. The other mother doesn’t skip a beat. The other mother has a perfect marriage. The other mother has time to eat. The other mother reaches her goals. The other mother cooks from scratch. The other mother is an idol. The other mother dresses with tact. The other mother has great legs. The other mother knows everything. The other mother doesn't worry. The other mother isn't me."
Okay. So, we're going to tap into that because there is so much in that about not feeling like you're enough, comparing yourself to everyone else, that culture of looking at everyone and thinking that you never are measuring up to that ideal and that's such a good conversation for us to have. I'll pause on that for just a moment and read this perspective from the child's another mommy.
"Another mommy, how dare you even ask? Another mommy wasn’t hired for this task. Another mommy could be a hack. Another mommy may not have my back. Another mommy wasn't in our womb. Another mommy, no, thank you."
And I love the juxtaposition of this where it's so often as moms we question ourselves and we're always self-critical at what we lack and for our child, they're looking at us and thinking," I don’t care about all that stuff. I just want you." And I think that this paints that so beautifully. Tell me about your process of putting these together.
Yeah. I think that might be one of my favorite poems in the book. My start in my career was in wellness and fitness and I maybe had this idea that I'm going to have this baby and I can snap back into shape super quickly. I have the tools. I have the means. I've worked out pregnant women all the time and because of everything that happened with my mom, I was in the hospital often. I put on a lot of weight. It was very, very hard. It felt like I was stuck in mud.
And so, on a physical level, I felt like I compared myself to my ideal and that was slush, and then on top of that, I felt like every single one of my friends just had a grandma that they could just run to. And I wasn't even envious. I don't know. I felt like the rug had been pulled from underneath me. I just didn't understand.
And so, I was just carrying my experiences because in the beginning, someone saying, "This will pass," that's nice. That's helpful when your mom's being like, "You're doing a good job." I was looking for the good job. But then, I would stare at my daughter and I'm like, "You know what? She's fed. She's going to the bathroom. She's smiling. She's happy."
And I know I was so close to my mom and she had countless conversations with me about how she wished she could do this or do that for me and I always thought she was the best. And so, I think in those moments I wanted to remember her point of view, hers is going to be different than mine and I don’t have to project that onto her. So, we can both live in this dual experience together.
Yeah, and I think that you hit that right on the head when you said so often, we think that we are searching for that validation and if we don't have someone that's giving us that validation, we have to be the ones to set up our own mindset and really take time to validate ourselves. I've been listening to Mel Robbins most recent book and it's called The High 5. Am I saying it right? It's something like The High 5 Challenge. I'm going to look it up real quick, just to make sure that I am saying it right.
It's called The High 5 Habit. And in her perspective and this is something she started doing for herself, she physically high fives herself in the mirror every single day. And with that high five, she'll say some mantras to herself like," I am valued, I am enough, I am exactly where I need to be," whatever those mantras are.
And I think so often, we're used to looking for validation outside of ourselves whether that's through social media liking or commenting or our own spouse or our parents or someone else saying we're doing a good job, especially if you're a words of affirmation person like I am. And so, listening to this book, it's been really impactful for me to think that we ourselves can connect in a physical and mental way and literally give ourselves a high five and say, "You're doing an awesome job." And so, I love that your poem is a nod to that that you may see other and you may think it's not enough, but in reality, from the child's perspective, it's exactly what they need because it's you.
That's totally true. I feel like I learned this lesson, the big lessons in life, you need repeated sometimes. And when I first started teaching fitness about 20 years ago, it was so apparent to me in the classroom the competitive nature of, you walk into the classroom, there might be someone who as simple as just dresses the way you want. You're not there.
And I felt that as a teacher, the competitive nature of a classroom, but the more I opened up and was more vulnerable myself and was more approachable or relatable, the more they were approachable and relatable. I would be intimidated by clients. They would be intimated by me, but if you give yourself the space to share openly or say like, "Hey, we both have emotional and physical weight that weighs us down," then you start the pathway to connecting. And so, I really love the idea of high fiving in the mirror and just the acknowledgement of the weight of words like the mommy word is a big weighted word in good ways and heavy ways or another mommy, these are things that hold power in our brains.
Yeah. I think you're right. And I think with this culture, we talked for just a moment we are recording here today, but I feel like there's this polarizing message that's being sent to mothers right now whether it's either everything is perfect and you snap right back and it looks perfect or demonizing how hard motherhood can be and really painting a picture of who would ever choose this.
And so, I think that middle ground of authenticity and really tapping into the beautiful side as well as the authentic side of what motherhood is as the whole package is really what we want to share and what our future generations need to hear because I think that the polarizing opposites are damaging to everyone. It's either way worse than it actually is or making it look like everything's always perfect like a highlight reel. So, I love that your book really brings in both without having to those extremes.
Thank you. I like the idea of a steady candor. When I was younger, I was probably more stallion like, but there's something about motherhood when you're like, "No, I have an even pace here." It always makes me amazed that there's 86,400 seconds in a day. That's a lot of time, a lot of seconds where you can have a lot of feelings, a full spectrum of emotions and I really wanted to do the artwork in this book too to bring in the light nature. I would say a mission, I'd want this book to be a fresh take on motherhood, that motherhood and childhood experience, that duality of it linking them together more powerfully beyond the mommy and me pajama set I think is a really beautiful aim for us as a society to go towards.
Yeah, absolutely. What would be the one message that you hope to give to your ideal reader? First of all, who would you say your ideal reader is and then what do you hope that they take away from reading your book?
My ideal reader is really any mom and I'm shocked how many husbands have said that they really enjoyed reading this book. I've heard about families reading it alongside their child. I had one mom tell me that she's just reading one poem a night. It's near her bedside table. That's literally all she can handle time-wise. And then, I have other moms that just go through it within an hour.
And so, I think anybody who is looking to reminisce or delve deeper into the motherhood paradigm with their child is an ideal customer for this book. And what I'm getting a lot of which is very exciting is a lot of people buying multiple books. It's become like an ideal Mother's Day gift, I think. So, that's exciting. I have grandmas that this took them back to a place when they were breastfeeding and figuring that out and it's good to reminisce and how a lot of those things, maybe that actual practicality of the subject has changed. Obviously, they're not breastfeeding now as a grandma, but the same sentiment of what they're dealing with of feeding, trying to be enough for their grandchild or their own child is still there. So, they're really relating to it on that level.
Yeah. I love that so much. And I just want to say, I know your mom is so proud of you. This is such a beautiful work of art and I think it's going to bless so many people. And I love that you have the idea of doing this together with your child because I think it opens up a lot of dialogue and that could be a child of any age and that's something I'm a big fan of. I wrote a journal Time for Us which is the parenting and child journal where you ask questions and answer them together. So, I'm very much about doing it as an activity together. So, tell us where our readers can find this book.
So, you can purchase it at me, M E dash mommy, M-O-M-M-Y,.com, me-mommy.com. And then, I'm on Instagram @rupa_mommy. I've just started Instagram. I'm new to the Instagram world. That, I feel like I could write a whole book about Instagram, the other mommy on Instagram. So, it's @rupa_mommy over there.
And I have to say just to build on what you just said, doing an artistic project with your child where they draw a picture of what feeding time or nap time looks like versus what you think it is, is so eye-opening. So, I hope that this idea of duality can manifest not only in poetry, in illustrations, and in generalizing activity. I think it's important.
Yeah. Awesome. Thank you so much for being on this show today. It's been so nice chatting with you.
Thank you. It was such an honor.
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