IMPERFECTLY PERFECT // Andrea Hawken

I first met Andrea in a mommy and me class featured at our mutual friend's space Loom (which, if you aren't familiar and are in the parenting zone - is a must for support!) Bonding over parenting is either really easy, or really hard - it's a pretty good way to find the people you actually connect with. 

I immediately liked Andrea. She brings a hefty dose of sarcasm and self deprecating humor to the table which is super refreshing, and resonates with how I personally 'parent' - because, what do any of us really know? Taking ourselves too seriously isn't good for anyone, and its important to recognize that no one is perfectly doing any of it.  

Her answers are so honest and thoughtful they gave me chills. 

Absolutely worth the read for anyone. 

Thank you Andrea! x 

3-word bio. 

Maybe you're right.

What is your one physical characteristic that you’ve had to grow to love, but at times would have changed?

My stomach. This one is sort of like a long and enduring relationship, not so linear. My tummy used to be my favorite part of my body. It was never perfectly flat or particularly impressive, but I liked it. It was soft and imperfect, but it was cute to me. Then, I had two kids and it got weird--stretchy, fluffy and full of extra skin; I will be the first to admit, it really, really, really bummed me out. I still don't love how it looks, but I found a different kind of love for its current state. My stomach housed my children and sustained their lives, I met them for the first time by feeling their little wiggles through the extra flesh that it grew. There isn't a day that goes by that I'm not grateful to my body and my stomach for what it was able to give me. (Still, I sporadically consider getting a tummy tuck.)

What would your husband say is your least appealing quality?

He'd say I'm just far so perfect that it makes others feel bad. I kid.

I asked him, and he asked: "how many do I get?"

All joking aside, he told me it's my temper. I debated being that honest here, but I just want to own that one. I yell when I am upset. My son told me he gets the most scared when I'm quiet--though scaring others is not the purpose, haha! People are uncomfortable with any outward expression of anger, but I've never been. Anger is a natural emotion and part of our repertoire and range of feelings; I think it's ok to get angry, barring any behavior that compromises another person's well-being, obviously. I get angry and I raise my voice, happens less and less now as I get older, but, in my twenties, my blood was just a little hotter than it is now.

You are about to become a mother of 3! What is the most terrifying part of having three children? And what are you most excited about?

I know how exhausted I'm going to feel, but that's sort of fleeting and superficial. What I'm truly most anxious about is the idea of raising a girl. I know it will be a learning experience for me, as it has been with each of my children. It isn't completely clear to me yet, but I trust that the lessons will unfold over the next few years.

Conversely, I'm also most excited about the opportunity to raise a girl! I love having sons and I think so much of the change in our society will come from raising men who will just get it. I know the sort of idealized response is to say that I will raise them the same way, and of course, I will in all the superficial ways. She can like bulldozers and the boys can like dolls, but, that's not what I'm unpacking when I talk about these differences.

I think of the difference in sculpture terms. Boys feel like additive method, building them up with clay, there's nowhere to go but up and it's going to be better than what we've always had, as long as I'm paying attention and being thoughtful about what I'm building, they will be amazing. A girl feels like the subtractive method, chipping away at hard marble and carving her out and thinking through every stroke to consider what I've been taught as a young woman. I have to think through what I need to impart and what I should remove from my narrative; it feels like a huge responsibility and one that I am so excited to have. Fingers crossed she's left with something good.

What do you think is the most misunderstood aspect of being a mother?

That mothers know best. We don't, or at least I don't. I do the best I can, but there are countless opportunities for me to learn and times where I've screwed up and didn't know the right thing to do; I've apologized to my sons many times and admitted to them that I don't always know the right thing to do and that I learn every day just like they do.

I listen to a wonderful podcast, Unruffled by Janet Lansbury. During each episode, she reads an email from a listener, inquiring about a specific, but relatable parenting scenario then she gives suggestions about how to respond to the quandary. I have a perfect record for never getting the solution correct--literally never, and to me that's hilarious and it's also totally ok.

I come at motherhood knowing that it is an ever-changing and dynamic experience that I am constantly humbled by. Not every child is the same, just as not every person is the same. What works for one child may be a disaster for another. I think accepting that I don't always know what's best and that what's best for one is not always best for the other has helped me weather so many of those steep learning curves that I encounter often.

Where do you seek inspiration? And has this changed since having children?

I'm a very nostalgic person; I look backwards for inspiration and romanticize the past often. This has always been true for me. Visually, I look at old materials. I look at old magazines, watch old movies and TV shows, my husband's records, and old signage and historic architecture when I'm traveling.

But my real inspiration comes from the people I love. I find inspiration from my oldest friends and my family--they know me in ways that nobody else does and they always will. I talk to my closest friends from high school every day; we use a video messaging walkie talkie style app called Marco Polo (highly recommend) and I listen to their messages on my walks, on my drives, while I cook, it has replaced podcasts for me. I cry, I laugh, but most of all, I feel grateful to have them. I wake up every morning, in my packed bed with people I love the most, go on a walk and communicate with my friends and feel thankful. There's nothing more inspiring to me than gratitude.

With 30 minutes of free time, what would you do?

Normally, maybe something more interesting, but these days, this pregnancy is taking the wind out of me, so with 30 minutes of free time, I'm sitting to watch TV. Maybe a super invigorating documentary, have you heard of it? It's called "Under the Tuscan Sun."

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

Ugh, just one is so hard, but if I could sum it up, I'd say it would be the general lack of empathy that people have. All animals are, by nature selfish, we look out for ourselves and our kin to secure survival. I'm not suggesting that we open up our living rooms to solve the homeless problem in Los Angeles, but if we approached our daily decisions by thinking about how our actions will affect others it would be a great start. For some reason, the turtle with the plastic straw stuck in its nose really got to the heart of that--I've never seen the entire world respond that swiftly, now if we could only respond that way with other matters too.

A few unread emails or 1000’s?

I go through fits and starts. Sometimes I'll have thousands, other times I'll be really good about it and be really on top of my emails. Currently, my count is at 32 and zero junk email.

Honestly, packrat or minimalist?

Minimalist with rare packrat tendencies. My husband and I are serial purgers and we're really good about it. Rarely have I gotten rid of something and regretted it save for a few pieces that my godmother gave me when I was a teenager. She is Italian and had all these insanely beautiful clothes that she gave me, vintage Missoni and Cacharel and I got rid of it--foolish. I hang on to anything nostalgic and emotional; I've got boxes and boxes of "memories" in our garage.

What keeps you up at night?

My mortality and the idea that, if all goes according to plan, my children will feel an intense amount of grief when they mourn me. I stay awake thinking of ways to save them from that pain, it makes me so sad to imagine it. My aunt died when her children were young, I think about how difficult that must've been for her. My grand aunt died well into her hundredth year. She was so well-loved and our family partied around her as she died. I know she thought she was a burden, but nobody else felt that way. I wish for her ending; we were all sad, but nobody grieved and mourned painfully, we were happy to let her go.