My name is Heather Cushman-Dowdee, I am married to an awesome waterman named Kevin, and we have four fabulous children: Izzy, Fi, Gwynnie the Poo, and the King of Wee. We live in a small house in a big city as close to the beach as we can afford. We can’t walk there but we can drive and park, which we do all the time. Most of us like to surf, some of us like to build sandcastles, a few of us like to crawl around after sea gulls. All of us are okay with sand in our drawers.
I started creating art with the Hathor the Cowgoddess character way back in 1999 while I was in Graduate School. There were paintings, sculptures, and performance art starring the Goddess of Moo and her superhero husband and the first and then the second of the four kids. Then, after graduation we moved to the west coast and a really small apartment. There was no way for me to make giant sculptures of Hathor any more. And performance art? Maybe in the laundry room? I started cartooning her life on paper balanced on my lap right smack dab in the middle of the living room. Life changed my art. I started posting the comics on a website in 2002.
In 2008, after many long years of drawing the comic and building a large and beloved audience, I decided to stop drawing Hathor and start a new comic. I’m cartooning the antics of Mama right now. As we speak.
Here’s some common questions about Hathor the Cowgoddess and Mama Is…Comic and my answers:
are you Hathor or Mama? No, I am Heather. I am three dimensional, living and breathing, and full color most days. I do not wear a mask (though I did a few times back in grad school about 10 years ago) I don’t wear a cape and I do not have goddess delusions, really. I do however make breastmilk, carry a baby in the sling, have astonishing levels of patience and more love than many mere mortals. Wow, come to think of it, that might make me a superhero.
are the Hathor the Cowgoddess or Mama Is… comics about your life? Er, no, not really. There are some similarities of course, I do have babies in the sling, I do breastfeed them. There are also differences, I have never been told to cover up, I don’t always have the perfect one-liner ready.
Sometimes the comics are about something that really did happen to me, most of the time they aren’t. A good portion of the time the comics are wishful thinking, how I want to behave. Here’s how to tell:
Read the comic, does it seem like you, a normal mother (meaning a homebirthing, breastfeeding, attachment parenting mother, you know, NORMAL) in America, would have the same thing happen to you? Would you behave in the same way? Then yes, it probably did really happen.
If you read the comic and you think, “wow! I can’t believe that Hathor was brave enough to stand up to that person!” That comic is probably a flight of fancy. Or if you think “Man, Mama is the perfect parent, she’s always does everything right”. That comic is probably Wishful Thinking.
If you find yourself thinking that these comic heroines are some kind of Ideal that you want to try and live up to, thank you, and me too.
are your kids just like they are in the comic? No, my kids are far more wonderful than I can ever capture in a comic. They are their own people after all, not just my side-kicks. Very seldom do their true words and actions appear in the comics, most of the time I put words into their mouths. Artistic license and all that, my kids forgive me because they don’t think of the comic kids as being themselves. They think they’re funny two dimensional drawings.
Why isn’t your husband in very many of the comics? There’s a couple of reasons for that, but mostly, he’s his own person, a grown-up, and I don’t want to put words into his mouth. If I did make him a one-liner spouting side-kick it wouldn’t make for a very harmonious or truthful looking marriage on paper, and probably wouldn’t make for a harmonious marriage in real-life either. He is, absolutely, the most supportive super-hero husband in the world. And a really great daddy too.
You must be a seriously judgmental bitchahem, that’s not a question, that’s a statement. But to answer, no. Okay a little bit. But I’m not judgemental of YOU, a mother, just doing the best you can given your situation. I’m judgmental of the situation we find ourselves in. I’m a mom that had a hospital birth, I had loads of breastfeeding difficulties, I’ve been known to yell. But I try and do better and I learn all I can. I think that there are tremendous advantages to homebirthing, breastfeeding and attachment parenting our babies. Life will be better and making our lives better will only inspire the greater good. I believe that. But you can’t homebirth if you didn’t know it was an option. You won’t choose it if you didn’t know it was safe. You’ll have trouble breastfeeding if you don’t think of it as normal, do-able, watch it in action. That’s why I cartoon. To share. I am however incredibly judgmental about the corporations that push infant formula. Total jerks.
Aren’t you exhausted doing all this perfect parenting? See, that’s the thing, I don’t recommend you do anything that isn’t really easier in the long run. My whole manifesto is based on the easy way to parent. About to give birth? Stay home! Need to feed your baby? There’s milk right there under your shirt! Looking for a daycare center? Change your life! I’m not a perfect parent, I’m just someone who likes her family and wants to spend a lot of time with them. I think they feel the same way about me.
Anyway, that’s a little about me, if you can think of any more questions that you’re dying to ask me, throw them into the comments below and I’ll see if I can get to them.