To celebrate Mother’s Day, we sat down with three New York motherhood bloggers to talk parenting in the city, finding things to do with their kids in an urban setting, and more.
Our second interview is with Eiman Hamza, the force behind eimanhamza.com, as well as creative director and co-owner of the Happiness brand. Read on to learn about Eiman’s path to motherhood, her family’s favorite NYC activities, and how she balances running a business, being a mom, and being herself.
Did you always know you wanted to be a mom?
No. [Laughs] After playing the role of mom to my two younger sisters, I just wanted to do me. Out of all my friends, I was the one who didn’t want to get married, have kids. Then I was the first one to get married, and after two years of marriage, surprisingly I got pregnant after one try.
Two months later, I miscarried. And something inside of me changed. I wanted to become a mom more than anything I’ve ever wanted in my entire life. Three miscarriages, countless tests and operations, and an IUI treatment later, I was finally able to become a mom to an incredible little boy that we call Z.
Tell us about your family.
My little family is made up of three people and a toy poodle. I’m a first-generation American, born and raised in Los Angeles. My family is Egyptian, so my first language was Arabic. Michael, my husband, is Italian. We met in 2006 while studying in Los Angeles. Fast forward eight years, and we’ve created this baby boy who is now four years old. He’s Italian, Egyptian, and American, born in Los Angeles, raised between Los Angeles, Milan and now New York. He speaks English, Italian, understands Arabic but is too stubborn to speak it fluently, and is now learning French.
My husband and I own a factory in Italy. We created a brand in 2007 called Happiness; it was our first baby. Now we’re eleven years in with men’s, women’s, and kids’ collections, twenty-two direct stores, distribution worldwide, and offices in L.A., New York, and Milan. Our son is with us at every show, right outside every meeting. Everyone around the office calls him “little CEO.” He’s very much involved with photoshoots, castings, design meetings, and decision-making. The factory and office in Italy are his little playground. We work with Michael’s parents as well, so Z gets to spend time and create memories with his Nonna and Nonno.
When did you start your blog? What was the decision behind it?
I started it in 2009 when I moved to Italy—out of pure laziness. [Laughs.] I had a large group of friends in Los Angeles and a ten-member family all asking, “What’s going on? Update us!” I decided to just throw it all on a website and send them the link. It was only for them, but when Happiness started taking off, [people] began to follow the blog to see the personal lives of the people behind the brand. I think it really helped us connect with people better and gain a stronger following.
How do you balance being a mom with being yourself?
That’s a great question, and one I had trouble in the first year understanding. I wanted to be a GREAT mom, the best, and in the beginning, I thought that being the best mom meant only being a mom, and nothing else. However, I came to understand that I’m not just this amazing boy’s mom; I am so many other things. Finding that perfect balance between the woman I’ve been for twenty plus years and the new woman I’ve become was by far the most difficult part. I’ve learned that if I’m not happy and if I don’t do the things that I need to do, I cannot give the best of myself to my son and the beautiful relationship that we have. In the end that’s how it works in all relationships: marriage, friendships, and motherhood.
My son sees me work, and I teach him the importance of good work ethic—without work, we cannot enjoy these things. Through work he also sees how I treat people, show empathy, respect others, and gain respect. I love when I look over and watch him staring at me, taking everything in, creating these memories in his beautiful brain. I feel like he must see me play my different roles to understand who I am as a person, and hopefully he respects the woman that is his mother, and this helps him in becoming a great man. At the end of the day, I’m young, and still have so much to give. I’m also responsible for the families of the 200 people who work for me, so I must work.
But when I shut off, I shut off. I don’t have phones around me, I am 100% with and for my Z. He does Taekwondo twice a week, and I have never missed a practice. My weekends are dedicated to Z. I do not check emails, I don’t work unless I have events at night after I put him to bed. No one ever said it was easy—but it can be done.
What do you love about living in New York with a kid?
We moved from L.A. and Milan to the Upper East Side in October of last year—and I LOVE it! I’ve never seen so many kids at the park in my life. For being such a hectic city, there are so many activities (that we know of thanks to KidPass!)
We’ve found that every corner we turn there’s something beautiful: a street performance, an event. In NYC, it’s been so much easier for us to make friends, since almost everyone is far away from their families. In the city, we become each other’s family. The homes are much smaller, so everyone’s out no matter what the weather is. I love that! My biggest fear when moving to NYC was that Z wouldn’t love the city—but he’s never loved a city more! I’m planning to take him to his first Broadway show next month. I can’t wait.
The best is when there are performances on the subway. Z gets so excited: “Mamma can you do that on a pole?” (The answer is “hell no.”) Even when the subway is packed, he looks at me with a huge smile and says, “Mamma, I love when there are so many people around, it’s so comfy cozy.” His perspective has changed my claustrophobic ways. For those who think NYC is not a city for kids: you are totally wrong. It’s the best!
And growing up in a city like NYC really prepares a kid for life. I see ten-year-olds riding the subway and I’m like, “Oh my gosh! I don’t know if I could let my child ride the subway alone until he’s thirty!” But these city kids have street smarts and a tougher attitude. I don’t want my kid to live in a little bubble and become easily shocked by things in life and struggle with how to deal.
What are your favorite activities to do with Z?
It depends on what we’re in the mood for. Every weekend morning I ask him: “So cooking, art class, dance?” When he tells me what he wants to do, I open up the KidPass app and look at what’s around at that time and book an activity. It’s so simple! He’s really into cooking right now, so we’ve taken many cooking classes. Anything with music is always fun. We visit museums a lot. The thing I love about KidPass is how everyone at the activity talks about other activities we’ve booked, and makes plans to meet up at future ones. It’s easy to feel alone in the city with a kid—but through these activities, you never feel alone.
What’s your favorite thing about motherhood?
The intensity of it. The raw, pure feelings I’m exposed to daily, from intense love to intense fear. It makes me feel alive: this is life, this is living. This little boy has changed my life in so many ways for the better, and at only four years old, he has no idea the impact he has made on me. I never knew I could laugh so hard over the dumbest things. I never knew my heart was capable of loving someone so intensely. I am utterly head over heels for this kid.
I remember when my son had a febrile seizure at sixteen months old—it was hands-down the scariest day of my life. If I look back at the girl I was before becoming a mom—I thought I was so tough and strong. But if I had to foresee myself going through something like that, I don’t know if I would have ever been able to deal. But you do. That’s the crazy part of motherhood: you grow, you learn, and you overcome, for this little creature. The responsibility of being everything to someone is insane. It’s scary. It makes me want to be the best mom and human ever. Never have I ever felt so mushy, gooey, and hard at the same time. So my favorite part about motherhood is the feelings—every single one of them.
Photos courtesy of Eiman Hamza