"Now she wasn't going to meet her grandchild or help me do this thing that she had made look so easy," Mindy Kaling writes in her new essay collection

By Benjamin VanHoose
October 14, 2020 04:11 PM
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Mindy Kaling
| Credit: Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Hulu

Mindy Kaling is reflecting on her fears entering motherhood without her own mom by her side.

The actress, writer and comedian, 41, opens up in a hilarious and heartfelt new collection of six personal essays, Nothing Like I Imagined (Except for Sometimes), about welcoming her now-2½-year-old daughter Katherine Swati and some of the challenges she has overcome as a single mom.

Kaling shared how not having her mother Swati (who died of pancreatic cancer in January 2012) to consult or lean on proved frustrating and emotional. She said she missed her mom "viscerally, painfully."

"She'd died eight years before, and now she wasn't going to meet her grandchild or help me do this thing that she had made look so easy," wrote Kaling. "I couldn't even ask her questions to have her good-naturedly dispel the myth that she was a perfect, multitasking mom-and-doctor."

The Office star explained that she had come to terms with not having a partner to raise her newborn with, but not having her mom was a different matter to overcome. Kaling welcomed her first child in December 2017, and recently revealed she gave birth to a son last month.

"When I was pregnant, I had enough time to visualize taking care of my daughter without a husband. That was easy. Most of my friends' husbands don't even change diapers," wrote Kaling of preparing for her daughter. "But not having a mom around to support me was torture. It felt especially cosmically mean that my mother had been an obstetrician and gynecologist and I'd had a tough delivery."

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Kaling further explained how faith keeps her connected to her late mother and makes her feel less alone as a single mom. She recalled shaving her daughter's hair for the Hindu tradition Mundan and getting emotional.

"After everyone left, I went upstairs, feeling strangely overwhelmed," she wrote. "I had a little Ziploc bag of my daughter’s hair and put it on the Hindu shrine in my bedroom. ... I placed Kit's hair next to a photo of my late mother. ... When I saw the little bag of hair next to the picture of my mother, I started crying. Then I started sobbing."

"I had cried quite a few times since Kit was born, but this was different. This was real emotional liberation, the kind of tears you cry when you watch one of those Super Bowl ads about a boy and his horse that ends up actually being about life insurance," Kaling continued. "Why was I crying so much? Because I think that it finally dawned on me that I have a child who will never know her grandmother, the person who was the closest to me in the world."

"Help Is on the Way" from Mindy Kaling's essay collection Nothing Like I Imagined (Except for Sometimes)
| Credit: Amazon

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Kaling said she was "terrified" to realize that she was "going to raise her alone" — "I was about to start this journey with my daughter by myself without the help of my mother."

"Then, just as suddenly, looking at this photo of my mother and the little bag of Kit's hair, I realized the one thing that would bridge all three of our lives was our faith, this intangible thing that had been passed on to me and that I would now pass on to my daughter," the Mindy Project star wrote. "Somehow, through this ritual, I had transcended the impossible distance between me and my mom."

"... In that moment, standing alone in my bedroom, I felt so connected to my mother," she added.

Nothing Like I Imagined (Except for Sometimes) is available now through Amazon Original Stories.