This summer, The Mama Sagas had the pleasure of interviewing singer/songwriter T Lopez, one of the co-founders of the MOM LIFE YO radio show, and host of the PBS show Musicology. T is refreshingly honest, completely down-to-earth, and unfailingly positive – the kind of chick you’d call when your kid pooped on the floor for the 4th time in a week and you need to be rescued with a bottle of wine, stat.
What impact has motherhood had on your life?
Motherhood has impacted EVERYTHING in my life. Self, marriage, career, friendships… The impact of parenthood is one of those things no one can prepare you for. When you are pregnant with your first baby, you have this idea that you will, of course, be impacted when making big decisions like working hours or travel… What you don’t realize is that motherhood bleeds into the tiniest, relatively meaningless decisions that you never even realized you were making before, because they didn’t require much thought.
Having a snack, for example, is never something I gave a second thought to, before kids. Now, if I decide I want to snack on say, an apple, there is a string of questions I ask myself all at once, and I mentally need to answer them all within a fraction of a second. Can I eat this quickly enough for my kids not to notice? And if not, then are there enough apples to go around? And if so, my youngest doesn’t like the peel, so where is the fruit peeler? If it’s in the dishwasher, am I willing to peel this entire apple using just my front teeth? And I better make all these decisions quickly, because they can always sense when I’m about to snack – any minute they will be at my feet. And if I’m standing here with ONE apple, this will turn into a life lesson I need to teach them on patience or sharing…
These thoughts impact a mother’s entire day. Multiply the mental stress by a million for the bigger decisions like career choices or traveling with or without the kids.
What have been the hallmarks of your motherhood journey?
I’ve worked in the entertainment industry for 20 years, yet I have been insanely private with my personal life. Even still, when I became a mom, I decided to create a radio show around motherhood where I could let it all hang out! I’ve had a lot of profound experiences as a mom. I was pregnant as a teen. I’ve lost 2 sons in infancy: one at a day old, one at a month old. My husband and I once decided NOT to have kids – now we have two girls who are mixed race, as is my husband… I am not. I didn’t want to be a mother of girls… But obviously, there’s no other way I can picture life now, and am so grateful.
What is or was your biggest challenge as a Mom?
My biggest challenge as a mom has been constantly rising to each new level of exhaustion and operate as a normal human being from there. You would think years of touring on no sleep would have prepared me for this. Nothing can prepare you for it.
How has motherhood influenced your work, and vice versa?
I have such a long answer for this question, but here is a quick mental picture of the way motherhood has influenced my work: before a big music tour, or TV show, there were entire days I would set aside on sound stages for rehearsal, and hours set aside pre-show for makeup and hair. I now get vocal warm-ups in during bath time, and after having put the kids to bed, I am running out the door with a makeup bag in hand, hoping I get to the venue in enough time to do a “full face” before the show, rehearsing lines and lyrics in my car on the way.
What has motherhood taught you about yourself?
Motherhood has taught me that I can literally do ANYTHING. I am strong enough, I can go the distance, and I can create something out of nothing. Motherhood has also taught me a lot about the way my own childhood has shaped me into who I am today.
Motherhood has also taught me that I was not living up to my potential before motherhood… I mean, WTF was I doing with all that kid-free time???
What surprised you about motherhood?
What surprised me most about motherhood was that when I became a mom, I was neither my old self, nor a completely different person, but a mix. I became this superhuman hybrid that was all new, and I was able to build off of that in the most wonderful way. Never the same again.
What do people misunderstand about you as a mom?
Because of what I do for work – being on television, on stage, and on the radio – I believe people think that motherhood is somehow easier for me behind the scenes. Maybe this insinuation comes from me looking slightly more put together (at times) for the shows that I do. The reality is I don’t have a nanny, my family helps when they can, and my husband and I just figure it out as we go. Me looking like I know what I’m doing comes from 20 years of being in the entertainment business and learning the tricks of the trade. When I haven’t slept in days, because maybe my kids are sick or something, sometimes my brain too fried to remember lyrics or lines, and the dark circles are, well, darker than usual. But I’ve been on tour enough times to know what concealer works for that, and I can freestyle on a stage at a moment’s notice. It’s an image. It’s my work. Every mom knows what the real deal is. We share some of our mom tricks and tips in our #saveYOsanity segment on the MOM LIFE YO show.
What has been the single most influential parenting event or experience that has shaped your perspective, or you as a person?
I lost two infant sons years before I had my daughters. The experience has made me grateful for life in general. I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful to see my daughters laugh, play, and even breathe. I am so blessed to have a family of my own. I know that every day is such a precious gift. I can also appreciate motherhood in every stage from pregnancy to infinity. If you have had life growing inside you, if you only got to spend a few short years, or months, or even days with your child, if you have cared for a child as your own, you have a mother’s heart and are forever changed.
What have your children taught you?
Children are like sponges and mirrors. They are constantly absorbing you as you are: your essence, what you say and do, and reflecting it all right back to you. I have learned so much about who I truly am by seeing myself through the honesty of my kids’ eyes.
How old are your kids? What are you dealing with in this stage of the parenthood journey?
My girls are four and two. What’s fair/unfair is a big deal in our house right now – they want equal rights and equal attention. Music is constant in our home for all the obvious reasons, and whenever I really want to drive a life lesson straight to the heart so that it sticks, I find or write a song about it. We are looking into “real schools” for my four year old for the upcoming kindergarten year, so school tours galore! And the cherry on top is that my two year old thinks that my house is one big art canvas, so I am constantly magic sponging my walls.