Several years ago, I was on a Southwest flight to Los Angeles and was sitting next to a very loud, intoxicated businessman. To a closeted introvert, he was my worst nightmare realized.
In an effort to get him to stop talking to me, I pulled out my laptop and started randomly typing. He leaned in and asked what I did for a living. When I told him I was a humor writer, he lit up as if he had an idea.
“I know Cindy Chupack. Do you know of her?” I shook my head no and pretended to type important words.
“She’s one of the main writers and executive producers of ‘Sex and the City.’ I met her on my vacation. I’ll email her and introduce you.”
I lit up, but also got embarrassed. If there’s one thing I know, highly successful people in show biz don’t love random dudes they met on their honeymoon to give their email out to annoyed women on planes.
I called his bluff: “OK, do it. Email her.”
To my shock, he did. And to my even greater shock, Cindy wrote me back. And she was more than just the writer for “Sex and the City.” She wrote and produced shows like “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Modern Family,” Showtime’s “I’m Dying Up Here” and was a New York Times best seller. Over time, we developed a friendship where I would help promote her work and she would make me laugh and give me treasured advice I use every day in my writing.
Recently, I sat down with Cindy in person for a live recording of my podcast in Kansas City. We talked about her new movie, “Otherhood,” which she wrote and directed. It’s currently showing on Netflix. Since then, I’ve been in a “How is this real life?” phase. Thank the good Lord for drunk men on planes!
“Otherhood” is about three older mothers played by Felicity Huffman, Angela Bassett and Patricia Arquette, whose adult sons forgot them on Mother’s Day. They decide to take a trip to New York City to surprise their sons, luggage in hand. It’s a hilarious and honest look at what is often a complicated relationship women have with their children, as well as themselves — especially when motherhood has become such an intricate part of their identity.
I have two small babes now, but this had me thinking of how my relationship with them will change through each season. Right now, I feel like motherhood is like having Stockholm Syndrome. I have fallen deeply in love with my captors, and the freedom that comes with them becoming more independent is a bit overrated.
There’s a quote in the movie where Arquette’s character says, “Motherhood, that sinking feeling that, as your child is growing up, you’re being broken up with on a gradual but daily basis. It’s inhumane emotional waterboarding.”
And I think she’s right. I know this thing us parents signed up for is pretty much love torture on all fronts. I know the relationship dynamic changes and evolves. One day, I’ll be stoked to get ’em out of the house and mad when they don’t call.
But I’m not despaired.
God willing, if they’re just like me, they’ll eventually be in their late 30s and calling me six times a day to tell me all about the consistency of their baby’s poop because I’ll be the only person on the planet they can call to unabashedly brag to and bore to tears about what color they should paint their bathroom. And I will listen intently about baby poop varieties. I just talked my mom’s ear off for 40 minutes about how I want to “really be in to vegetables, even Swiss chard!” I even wondered out loud if Whole Foods carries jicama.
And my mom never once sounded bored! That’s true love. It changes, but stays. And it’s uniquely ours.
I guess that’s the adventure of motherhood.
Special thanks to Cindy for teaching me how to be humble, generous and kind to random admirers, how to be a brave writer and for making a movie that’s taught me how to be a brave mother when my girls don’t need me to cut up their chicken anymore.
Anna Lind Thomas is a humor writer and mom to daughters Lucy and Poppy and English bulldog Bruno, wife to Rob Thomas and founder of HaHas for HooHas. She writes for momaha.com.