Jancee Dunn knew there was something wrong she realized that she knew more about the lives of celebrities than her own family and friends. It wasn’t just because of her job as a former Rolling Stone writer and MTV2 veejay; we live in a world that can’t get enough of the endless minutiae of the Britneys, Brads and Mileys. So Dunn decided to change that, and writes about her experiences in her refreshingly candid, funny new book, “Why Is My Mother Getting a Tattoo? And Other Questions I Wish I Never Had to Ask.”
For an author who’s written so lovingly about her quirky family, it seems somewhat odd that Dunn herself was ambivalent about being a mom for the longest time. As fate would have it, at age 43, believing a baby was not to be despite not using any birth control for years, Jancee Dunn became a mother.
The author and Huffington Post blogger lives with husband Tom Vanderbilt, author of “Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us),” and their baby daughter in Brooklyn, New York.
You said you were fearful that having a child would mean the loss of your freedom, identity and the joy you took in your work. In what ways were you wrong and right about that?
Well, it has definitely curtailed my freedom. I still blithely say yes to invitations to things and then realize that I have a baby at home and I can never just sail out of the house again. And I love to travel, it's my favorite thing to do, and I just can't see myself traveling for a while, so I wistfully look up travel sites sometimes when the baby is napping … And also, with a 3-month-old, I am just starting to regain my marbles, so my writing is more like “typing.”
So I've lost some freedom, yes, but I find that I don't mind. When I have been out to meet an editor for lunch, I find I can hardly wait to race back and squeeze that baby. As for my identity, adding the title “mother” to it has enriched and enhanced my life. And I take just as much joy in my work, but I don't obsess about my Amazon numbers as much. The baby has reset my priorities in the nicest way.
After being a couple for so long, you’re now experiencing your husband as Dad. How has that changed him, and what have you learned about him because of it?
I was a little apprehensive, frankly. Because my husband likes things the way he likes things. He won't eat ice cream from an ice cream truck, which he calls "Mr. Soft E. Coli." Nor will he eat ice cream on the street. Nor will he walk and eat anything.
So he's set in his ways. But he surprised me. He is so patient with that baby. He dotes on her. When he takes her out in the stroller, he's the annoying dad on the sidewalk that you run right into because he stops every few feet and fusses with her blanket. I find that incredibly appealing. I was so afraid that we would snap at each other all the time, but I think the advantage of being older — I'm 43 — is that you are more patient with both the baby and your mate. Or maybe you're just worn out.
What's funny is that he confessed that he was apprehensive about me, too.