“Nothing prepared me for the love I would feel for my child. Nothing prepared me for how quickly it happened for me. And here’s what I just figure out now: no one is ever prepared.” Nia Vardalos, Instant Mom
Nia Vardalos is warm, funny and engaging. I am nervous for our conversation, but she immediately sets me at ease by assuring me that if I could see her, I wouldn’t be so nervous. At the moment, I’m just thrilled she can’t see me. I have not brushed my hair in 48 hours. I am wearing a ski cap. I slept in my sweatshirt. I take some comfort in knowing, this kind of unkemptness is familiar ground for her. Like myself, Nia is a mom. Unlike myself, who had 9 months and 2 weeks to prepare for each of my children, she had a mere 14 hours.
Instant Mom is Nia’s hilarious and emotive new book. In it, Nia, first made famous for satirizing her Greek family in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, chronicles her experience with infertility and finally her long journey through the adoption system; a journey which culminated in being matched with an energetic and, at times, right-hook-throwing, toddler.
Instant Mom is both guidebook and cheerleader for parents (and parents-to-be) considering adoption. She makes no judgments as to whether foreign or domestic, open or closed, public or private, adoption is preferable; saying only that every child deserves to be loved.
When I ask her what advice she can offer to people thinking of pursuing this path to parenthood, she says, “Read as much as you can and then decide what’s right for you. Just listen to that inner voice.”
Nia assures me that the biggest myth about adoption is that it is expensive and difficult, and that there is something wrong with the children who are adoptable. She refutes all of these claims, but especially the last. All the vast majority of these children need, is a loving home.
What strikes me most, however, is that Nia’s story isn’t just one of the adoptive parent, it’s one of every parent. Not one of us knows what we are doing. Each parent is an instant parent, whether we were handed our child from a midwife, obstetrician or social worker. In a single moment, our lives are transformed.
Nia shares moments of pure terror in this journey, like watching her daughter choke on a hard candy or realizing the stray dog living in her home is, in fact, half coyote (ok, as a reader, that was more hilarious than terrifying), but there are also moments of transcendent beauty – the first utterance of “mom” and “dad”, hands held in the night, kisses given and received – moments every parent can recognize.
“When it comes to control, parents don’t get a safety bar to grip on this ride. I just have to grin through my chattering teeth and lean into every gut-churning dip. I see it all around me right now- I’m in a room of adults who know that sharp pang of nostalgia when we look at a picture of our child taken just yesterday.”
Now that her daughter is in school, I ask her if she has any advice for surviving the toddler years. “Don’t buy anything new,” she says. “It’s like having a puppy around.” I look over as I type, to see my daughter peeing on the floor.
Nia is so wise.
Instant Mom will officially be released on April 2, but you can win a copy here! Simply comment below with your favourite bit of parenting advice (non-parents can participate too)! One winner will be randomly selected on Monday, April 1.
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Adoption in Canada – a great resource about where to start. “Of the more than 78,000 children in Canada’s child welfare system, approximately 30,000 are legally free or eligible for adoption.”