Welcome to the Super Mama Series! I created this as a way to showcase actual messy-but-beautiful lives of women who are mothers and live creatively. By no means are any of us perfect, but we are striving to do our very best. Super Mamas are women who mother sacrificially, love deeply, and acknowledge their weaknesses gracefully.
Meet Super Mama Kate Hughes. Kate is a Brooklyn-based mother and freelance writer. After she completed her tenure as Vogue's Sr. Copy Director, Kate has contributed fashion, tech, lifestyle and motherhood pieces to top magazines (including Vice, Vanity Fair, Etsy) and brands (BCBG, Swarovski, Under Armour). When she's not translating corporate jargon into plain English, she's running 5Ks, re-naming kids brands (HiSawyer.com), and dancing with her daughter Penelope.
ON MOTHERHOOD IN NEW YORK CITY
"Before pregnancy, I wish I knew that carrying a child would NOT be so terrifying. Before becoming a mama, I wish I knew that everything does NOT change overnight. [The] most rewarding part of motherhood is knowing I've contributed to one person's joy in a day somehow.
I think of everyone I meet as a baby now. It reminds me how special they are. I feel more gratitude for people - you can get so dismissive in a city of 8.5 million people. I see myself maybe more critically. I expected a lot from myself before and I expect more from a grown-up, mother version of myself. That's been challenging - getting over the guilt of missing a step (no snack in the bag, mis-timing the nap) and also the shame of not being able to exercise and get back toward my pre-pregnancy body. Will helps me overcome these feelings in these moments - it's just about reorienting your perspective.
We are [in Brooklyn] for life. I think. We live in a very family friendly neighborhood - strollers everywhere, bike lanes, park benches, and the best classes. What would I change? Easy. We just moved from an elevator loft building to a fourth-floor brownstone walkup. So I'd take an elevator without coercion.
Penelope loves to sleep and loves to eat and loves to be carried. Now that she's 30lbs I just learned the hip carry for my Tula ring sling. I need to learn the back carry for the structured carrier."
ON THE WORK LIFE JUGGLE
"We are lucky to both be freelance and split childcare between us. Whoever isn't working that day is home with our daughter. If we overlap - which is about once or twice a month - we call in a babysitter for the day. It involves an annoying amount of communication - but it's still a gift. A typical week is that I'm home Monday (say Will's shooting on set, he's a photographer) and Penelope and I go to a puppet show or a music class at The Sugar Shoppe nearby. I'll answer emails during her naps. Then Tuesday and Wednesday, Will might be home so I'll go to a coffee shop and crank out a few articles, websites, or social campaigns for my clients. Thursday I'll be home and we'll do playdates. Then Friday, Will's home and I'll go visit a client onsite in the city for a briefing. Voila.
I believe in the power of change. So I believe in the power of quitting as a positive tool. Will and I have left town for a season three times now. Each required quitting my jobs as an Account Executive, Associate Managing Editor, and then as Sr. Copy Director at Vogue. The latter was the best job I've ever had. But the opportunity arose for Will to shoot in Australia, so we leapt forward together. It was also a moment where I decided to take on less work. For a lot of women it's not an easy decision to make and I understand why that's real. For me, it's been the framework for which I can feel like I'm being the mom I hope to be. That fills me up, and, I hope, is a good model for Penelope - that you can create a life that works for you. Plus, being freelance means I don't have to quit anymore > dreamy."
ON THE BEST AND WORST ADVICE
"Best: Being a parent puts a spotlight on being a partner. Anything you usually argue about, you'll argue about more with a baby. We took this seriously and did couples therapy for a year and a half before we got pregnant and it's made all the difference. Worst: Not to expect much parenting help from your husband. It's an old way of thinking. Will is the ultimate dad and co-parent."
ON FAMILY TIME & SELF CARE
"[A perfect Saturday] is unscheduled. If I'm ever alone, I always want to write. Or run. Or read.
Will is the chef of the house. He loves whipping up homemade soups (tomato farro, kale white bean) or burritos. When we order out (which we've been doing a lot because we're unpacking into our new apartment) it's all sushi. Penelope has come to love avocado rolls and miso soup.
[A foolproof outfit revolves around] a TSquared white tee, Gap skinny jeans, Fluevog boots or royal-blue Vans, and One Hundred oversized camel coat. And, the [top 5 items in my beauty routine] are NARS Illuminator in Orgasm, Clinique CC Cream in Light Medium, Ole Henriksen Moisturizer in Nurture Me, NARS Audacious Mascara, Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick.
Santa Barbara, CA (where Penelope saw her first beach) and Montauk, NY (where we got engaged) are our favorite places we've been to as a family."
ON CHILDREN'S BOOKS AND THE BEST REMEDY
"Marshmellow by Corky Logstan because it reminds me of growing up near the Chesapeake Bay; People by Peter Spier and Ten Little Fingers & Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox because they show Penelope that she's part of a giant, diverse world; and No Two Alike by Keith Baker because it reinforces her/our individuality even amongst our tribes.
The [best remedy] is coconut oil on everything - skin, hair, lips, food."