Hold On, But Don't Hold Still - Kristina Kuzmic


There’s a name for when things don’t work out the way you thought they would. It’s called “life.”

I’m known by my viewers as the “funny mom,” the mom who finds humor in every nook and cranny of motherhood while shoving brownies in her mouth and drinking coffee straight out of a coffeepot. I love humor. I need humor. Tackling life without it is like trying to eat soup with a fork. Sure, you’ll still get a tiny bit of nourishment from eating that way, but you’ll miss out on so much goodness. Before I could laugh about being a mom or embrace the mind-bending challenges of life, I needed something much more vital and basic: I needed hope.

Thirteen years ago, I was a single mom sharing a bedroom with my two rambunctious, wonderful, exhausting young children. I was juggling two jobs and taking every shortcut I could, including not being too proud to accept breakfast help from my friend who worked at Starbucks and let me have the leftover, stale pastries that were no longer fit for their display case.

On one particularly stressful morning a few years into my parenting gig and not long after my divorce, I was awoken by the loud clang of two human alarm clocks—my two- and three-year-olds. Sleep deprivation, plus a lack of personal space and time, can often make one feel like they’re having a hangover—a parenting hangover. I hadn’t had anything to drink the night before, but I had consumed so much of my anxiety and tears that I felt completely disoriented come morning. I’d been up late, hunched over next to my kids’ bunk beds, gathering documents and filling out paperwork for a big adventure I had scheduled for the following day.

That morning, after buckling the kids in their car seats, I pleaded with them to please make sure at least 80 percent of their muffins (the previously mentioned Starbucks treat) ended up in their mouths and not on their clothes or the floor of my car. And off we went on our adventure.

Life tip: always refer to stress-inducing appointments as adventures.

Our “adventure” that morning was at the Department of Social Services. A few days prior, I had sold my old wedding ring to cover that month’s rent, and now I was hoping to be approved for food stamps. Other than my car—which I needed in order to get to my jobs—I was fresh out of valuable possessions I could sell in order to help pay the bills.

When my name was called, my lovely children were pinballing around the waiting area as if they were hooked up to an IV of pure sugar. I scooped them up, one kid in each arm, and walked to the window to turn over my paperwork. The woman working there curtly fired a string of questions at me, glanced over the documents I’d painstakingly compiled, and didn’t once even bother to lift her head to look me in the eye. Not being able to provide the basics for my children made me feel worthless. Not being treated like a human deserving of eye contact by the woman standing between me and the resources I needed only amplified my self-loathing. I wondered for a second what her life was like. Had she ever felt depressed and lonely and overwhelmed and broke and suicidal like I did? Did she have children she loved more than anything in the whole wide world? Did she feel they deserved so much better than what she could ever offer?

Hours later, flooded with relief but also reeling with shame, the kids and I were back in the little room we shared. I could barely hold in the surge of sadness that started to consume me as I wrestled Matea out of her shoes and coat while attempting to coax Luka to just try going potty before naptime. In the midst of this chaos, Matea gently grabbed my cheeks in her tiny hands. She looked deeply into my eyes with her big brown ones and said, “Mommy, I wuv your cute widdle face.” My heart burst. How did she know I needed that love right then, at that moment?

“Baby girl, you are so sweet.” My eyes filled with tears now. “I love you and I love when you grab my face like that with your