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AMY KHAN

WITHOUT using labels, who are you?


I am finding myself. Currently teaching art, which I love. Finding ways to inspire young minds, but also finding ways to understand and nurture the pieces of myself I missed out on in childhood. While noticing more about my need for more strict boundaries and asking for help when I need it. 





Returning to work after five years of being a stay at home mom has been both difficult and fulfilling. I started back in a classroom, completely stocked with every kind of art material I could dream of, but also, wildly unorganized and overwhelming. I’d say @tms_artroom shares parts of my passion and pride in my journey to finding myself again. 


Describe your kids. 


I have two wild-hearted, emotionally intelligent boys. One seeks approval, constantly creates, and enjoys shared experiences. One seeks independence, constantly deconstructs, and enjoys the quiet gentleness in the aftermath. 


Describe your household. 


Constantly moving. Seeking ceremony and ritual, but running smoothly enough with motion and care. Finding calming moments in books, songs, messy art-making, and somewhat more recently, video games. Sticky notes with animal doodles and bins of Kindergarten worksheets with smiley faces. Unfinished board games (often missing pieces). Corners often cluttered with piles of clothes and stacks of toys, many seeking homes themselves. Chores to return to after bedtime. Plants that need watering.


What do you adore about being a mother?


I enjoy the tender moments and sometimes the more difficult ones. Being a place for peace and a source of comfort. Somehow the skin of my stomach is a comforting source for both of my boys. I found it odd for a while, almost uncomfortable, but realized they treat it more like a teddy bear that they will never lose, and that helped a lot. It’s important to me to show interest in their ever-changing thrills, which I find so inspiring. Learning about all the different dinosaurs, characters’ names on their favorite shows, rules to games they create, whatever happens to keep their focus. This is something I look forward to investing my time in as they grow. 


What do you despise about being a mother?


Most often, the noise. It can wear me out so quickly, how constant sound can fill a space with so much weight. Teaching them ways to regulate their bodies, when I know deep down, I am having a hard time calming my nerves at the same time.


What's something you want to do differently than the generations of mothers before you? 


To be present. Aware. Constant. Learn more about myself and what I missed out on, which I know wasn’t something those before me were interested in learning. Communicate my shortcomings and be willing to apologize and discuss what went wrong, but also be willing to form a plan for the future. My three year old says things like “my no means no” and “I control what my body does” and I find so much peace and joy in that. 





What is something you’re proud of so far in your motherhood journey?


Trying to find what brings my boys peace when things get too hard. Finding ways to accept the chaos and the mess, when I can. Giving myself time to adjust to change and noise and busy bodies. Finding friendships with other mothers I can commiserate and celebrate with. 


What do you think is the biggest misconception about motherhood?


Probably the village piece. My husband and I often feel so alone, like we are lacking the community we thought we would have built at this point in our lives. But also, recognizing the exhaustion we both feel at the end of each day. It’s hard finding the time to give back to ourselves and to each other. 


What do you think is the most common thread of motherhood?


Oof.. probably the exhaustion. Finding ways to find ourselves again, once everything has changed in such a drastic way. It’s hard making time for things, without feeling like we are sacrificing something. Maybe sacrifice is another. Knowing parts of you are changed forever, and sorting out the ways in which that change is for the better.  


Where and when do you feel most at home?


When we are together, enjoying something as a group. Usually outside. Eating dinner in our backyard, taking breaks to watch them play, coming back to communicate or show us things - this brings me so much joy. Finding ways to create new rituals and celebrations, like custom pancakes on holidays and for special occasions. Cooking together, when I am feeling like I can take on the challenge. 





What energizes you?


Watching my boys share something they’re  proud of. Maybe a drawing, a joke, a new dance move, or a newly acquired skill, like putting on their own pajamas. Also, sometimes being alone in a dark room, with little to no distractions. Going on walks in nature. Making art that my kids will find joy in, even if only for a short time. 


What last made you belly laugh? 


My youngest does something random almost every day that blows me away. Not always on purpose, but the joy in his eyes when he noticed it’s a success is simply magical. I am thankful for this questions - I will be more mindful to remember the exact moments. 


When do you and how do you feel totally relaxed? 


Usually post bedtime.. when my duties are done. I might choose to watch a show, take a bath, or just be still and quiet for a while. But also, when my kids are playing together peacefully or enjoying a meal together as a family (one they’ll eat with no struggle). 


What is something that makes you cringe?


Teeth. My oldest son just lost his first. I’ve never liked teeth. Although, it was fun creating tooth fairy magic and honoring that sense of imagination and excitement! Our tooth fairy created tiny origami designs with the money, which our son was absolutely ecstatic about. 

What is something that's stopped you in your tracks in the past year?


Sometimes my oldest will display these incredibly tender moments with his brother. Encouraging and thoughtful. So supportive. Those moments always catch me off guard, and I can’t help but glisten inside. 


What is something you've recently ate/listened to/read/watched that really captivated you?


Studying artists for Black History Month has been really inspiring to me. I think it’s been too long since I sat and read an artist’s story and purpose. It has given me great joy to share such important work that I’ve missed out on, and encourage more students to honor themselves and others in new ways! 


Who or what kind of mother do you look up to and why?


I definitely have found comfort in other moms who are comfortable enough to share their stories. Their wins and losses. Their embarrassing times and their rewarding experiences. I am really loving the transparency that this time in life is allowing. I look up to moms who can hear me and see me, can offer grace and support when they see I am in need. Moms that notice things I don’t notice, and bring to their family a great sense of unfazed ease and comfort. I want to be that mom. 


Describe a perfect day with your kids(s).


Beginning our day together, usually once both of them have found us in our bed. Slowly making our way to a family breakfast with nice music playing in the background. Setting out early to explore a new space together, or even an old one where they feel absolute ease and comfort. Like Fernbank - they feel so at-home going from exhibit to exhibit. Maybe packing a picnic lunch and nestling down in the woods there. Finding out way back home and continuing our time together outside. Probably ordering food and eating outside as well. Lots of snuggles and giggles before bedtime. Restful reading or story-telling as their eyes become heavy. And a full night of sleep.. That would be ideal. 


What do you dream of for yourself? For your children?


I long for having a sustainable work-life balance. Especially now that I’m working at my kid’s school, it’s important to me to establish roots and build true community there. But I also want to get to a place that feels peaceful and the work fuels me. I’d love for our children to know how much we love them and to build long-standing relationships that can reflect a sense of security, comfort, and ease. Neither of my parents really had that many close friends. I’d love to be able to set an example in that way. Plus, it’s a definite bonus for me! 



How did you feel about being pregnant? What do you remember most about pregnancy?


I loved being pregnant. It felt so natural and important. I remember describing to a friend that, even in the beginning days, I could feel something inside me. And she laughed, a sweet but all-knowing laugh, and said “Amy, that’s love.” It really stuck with me. I’d dream about what they looked like or the things we would laugh about one day. All the places we would explore together. And I remember caring for my body so carefully and sweetly, knowing it wasn’t exactly mine anymore. 


Thoughts on…


Identity?


Work-in-Progress. I identify as a Mother. Thankful to return to teaching as a mother. It’s definitely helped me gain more perspective in terms of meeting the needs of individual kids. 

Aging?


I’ve always favored these random lyrics from some band long ago: “time will take care of itself, so just leave time alone.” Birthdays don’t mean much to me, but I do enjoy getting older. 


Child rearing?


Raising children is hard. Raising one child is hard. It’s work. But it’s work worth doing. Finding so much joy in the little moments with little ones is a feeling I simply cannot compare to anything else. 


Blended families?


 I think it’s wonderful. I know I had different feelings about it as a kid, but it took some time to recognize and to realize that some of my parenting techniques stemmed from my Step Mom. I have such a great appreciation for Plus/Bonus families now. Knowing that the children are able to gain perspective and understanding from an entirely new avenue. One they would have otherwise missed out on. 


Social media? 


Into it. I have found so many art techniques and project ideas and calming phrases and catchy songs… I feel super fortunate to be a parent in this technology age (for now). We will see how my outlook adjusts in the coming years. Working with middle school students can be heartbreaking at times, knowing what all they’re being exposed to without limits. 


Postpartum depression/anxiety/PTSD?


I feel like my husband experienced more of a shift in this area than myself, after becoming parents. I have no doubt many people, of all genders and roles, can and do experience this level of discomfort after their lives have been altered in some way.  I have many moments, often in and out of each day, of anxiety and brain fog. 


Gender constructs?


It’s interesting to think about, especially before going back to work full-time. I truly felt it was my duty to do the womanly role of house cleaning and cooking, etc. But once I started working again, with my husband at home with our then two year old, I noticed a real shift in our household dynamics. Lots of apologies and appreciations were given. I think we have become a lot more balanced in the last few months with the weight of it all, which I appreciate more than I knew I could! 


Family building?


As for us? We are done. I wanted boys. I got two. Shop’s closed! I’m looking forward to more community building. Finding family in others and rejoicing in that discovery. I know it can be a slow process, but I’m feeling excited for what’s to come. 






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