Mindy Kaling On Motherhood, Turning 40 & What Brings Her Joy On The Daily

Mindy KalingPhoto Credit: Joe Seer/Shutterstock.com

Mindy Kaling is at a pretty joyful time in her life. The “Late Night” writer and actress turned 40 on Monday surrounded by friends in L.A. (including her former “The Office” co-star B.J. Novak), is a mother to one-and-a-half-year-old daughter Katherine and is in a fantastic place professionally—writing, acting and penning N.Y. Times best-selling books. Because she’s in such a good, joyful place, she was a natural fit to partner with with joy, which is an emotion, yes, but also a razor; a little win for women everywhere who just want a great shave so they can get on to conquering the world and/or napping. So naturally, when talking to Kaling, we wanted to hear all about her personal power of joy, and how she unapologetically continues to be herself. Here, she discusses motherhood, turning 40 and what brings her the most joy on a daily basis.

Mindy KalingPhoto Credit: joy shave

Let’s talk about joy. Why was this such a fit for you?

It’s a product that I actually really love. I have, unfortunately—because of my pain threshold—never done laser hair removal, so until I die I will need a razor. I also love it for superficial reasons; I just love the packaging. It’s so charming. In the shower I actually enjoy looking at it. It’s a refreshingly simple, uncomplicated product; it’s not like a philosophy of life, it’s just a great razor and I just really like it.

Does it help you get back to the things that matter most because it saves time?

Yes! Everyone is really busy not just me but because I feel pulled in so many different directions, it definitely saves me a ton of time because it’s such a high-quality razor.

What brings you the ultimate joy on a daily basis?

I hate to sound trite, but what brings me joy is when I get up first thing in the morning and I go into my daughter’s room and I open the blinds and I look at her little round, chubby face, and she’s smiling.

Happy belated birthday, by the way! I read your Tweet about crying happy tears on your 40th. Is there an achievement thus far that you’re proudest of?

I’m lucky because I have a pretty joyous job. As a comic writer you go into a room with eight to ten people who are funny and who are your friends and you get to be creative together. Obviously, there are challenges and putting together shows takes a ton of work and there’s a lot of anxiety involved in it, but to me I have such a social, fun job where I’m laughing every day and I feel very lucky.

Mindy KalingPhoto Credit: joy shave

What would you like to see happen in the next 40 years in terms of personal happiness and career goals?

Honestly, the truth is I would like to live for another 40 years; I was thinking about that yesterday. The first 40 years—especially the last 15—has been just me trying to grind professionally to be successful. To be a mom is so exciting, and re-shifting my focus so that I can live for another 40 years is my priority now.

How are you planning on doing this?

Being very uncoordinated, I also love exercise… although I think that surprises people because I’m not incredibly skinny. I really do love exercising and I think focusing on that and doing activities with my daughter—being outdoors, hiking, swimming with he— is something I really want to focus on. For the record on, exercising now is so much more fun that I can bring my daughter with me!

Isn’t that difficult to try to exercise when you have to take care of your daughter?

It’s incredibly inefficient. When I was growing up, my mom was a doctor and she was so busy that she didn’t have time to take care of herself. Even though it’s less efficient, I think it’s incredibly important for your children to see you being active in those ways. I think I picked it up even though I didn’t have that set to me as an example, and it’s enriched my life so much and my mental state to do exercise. I think that’s a really great gift to give my daughter, to see me doing exercise and how much pleasure I get out of it.

Would you say that’s this your number one parenting tip, being present and being with her?

I wouldn’t say that’s my number one tip because I struggle with it all the time; I’m a working mom. I’m the breadwinner of our very small family so I have to work a lot. [But I would say that that my number one tip is] being very present when I’m with her and not feeling guilty about the times that I can’t be.

Mindy Kaling Photo Credit: joy shave

You must get this a lot, but given that you’re a sextuple threat—actress, writer, director, producer, author and mother—how do you manage to do it all?

There’s so many single working moms out in the world right now. My answer is similar to theirs, but I would say I’m in a really privileged position so I have help. The truth of it is that it’s really hard and I could not do it without support—my father and my stepmother—and I’m lucky enough to financially be able to have a nanny who can take care of her when I’m at work and bring her to visit me when I’m at work. Plus, I’m my own employer. I have a lot of privileges that I acknowledge that many working American moms don’t get to have and it’s one of the benefits of having a baby later—I was 37 when I was pregnant—so the financial security that I have from having had a baby later has helped me to take care of her.

Are you happy that you waited to have a baby?

I think there’s no one right way of doing things. If I had her at 24 there would have also been their own challenges and their own joys. My mom would have been alive so that would have been wonderful but I think that I truly believe there are many different ways to be happy and I’m sure I would have been happy had I had her younger.

What has been the most surprising thing about motherhood? The most rewarding?

The most surprising is I guess is being maternal. I wouldn’t have described myself as that before I had a baby. I don’t know that any of my friends would have either. The most rewarding has been that I have more family. It’s really nice to come home and there’s a blood relative in my home that I created. That’s really nice.

Mindy KalingPhoto Credit: Mindy Kaling/Instagram

Did having had your daughter make you grow up?

I don’t know. I think my personality is pretty much the same as it was before I had a kid. The thing that’s changed is watching children in movies and things, and if they’re in any kind of peril or anything like that I kind of can’t watch them. Other than that I think I’m the same person.

Will you write something for her or gravitate towards children’s’ programming at some point?

She’s little still—she’s a year-and-a-half—so she doesn’t watch TV or anything yet. I haven’t been exposed to much of that. “Baby Shark” is the only thing I’ve seen. I haven’t had any desire yet [but that’s not to say that I won’t in the future].

How do you like to bring joy best to other people?

It’s so simple. I love comedy—it’s the thing I do every single day and no matter what you do if you’re sick—if you’re going through a hard time, if you’re a teenager or an adult—the amount of joy you can feel for turning on a show for a half hour and watching that as an escape from your life or if it makes you look at your life in a different way and it makes you laugh, to me, that’s something I feel really proud of.