The Biggest Picture
Filmmaker Kathryn Tucker is in production on the largest project of her life, raising baby Tucker
By Amy Gordy/Photography by Lily Darragh
Kathryn Tucker remembers the exact moment her “clock” started ticking. “I was there for the delivery of my nephew, Ellis, and I had this ‘ah-ha’ experience. I just had this really powerful reaction to him, and I knew in that moment I wanted to be a mom.
Kathryn and her husband, Gabe Mayhan, are both filmmakers and travel back and forth from Los Angeles to their home in Little Rock. Their flexible schedules have allowed them to take time away and enjoy their latest and most time-consuming project, baby Gabriel Tucker Mayhan, whom they call “Tucker.”
Kathryn was living in Los Angeles when she began her pregnancy at 36, and had to uproot when she returned to Little Rock for a job in her third trimester. Though she loved the laid-back, open attitude of her physician on the West Coast, her transition was smooth and she delivered a healthy baby boy on Aug. 20, 2015.
Life with Tucker has changed the couple’s routine tremendously. “Our life feels chaotic and very busy, but now I also have days where I just get to slow down and go to the park, or go on a walk with Tucker. It’s important to slow down and make sure you are present with your baby,” she said. Tucker has found his place in this growing family. “We aren’t the kind of people who can put the baby in a room at night and shut the door. He’s one of us. He goes to sleep when we do, and sleeps with us. He goes where we go.”
Kathryn and her husband have found a partnership that works seamlessly to help them both balance their work and family time. “Gabe is such a great dad. It’s changed the way I see him. My life would be impossible without him being the kind of dad that he is,” Kathryn said.
One surprise about motherhood for Kathryn was the amount of time she has to spend breastfeeding. “We added it up, and I spend between four and six hours a day breastfeeding. That’s time I can’t do anything else, so Gabe uses that time to pitch in and make sure things around the house are taken care of. I wouldn’t be able to get anything done on my work without him.”
The two are enjoying watching Tucker grow and develop his high- energy personality. “Gabe and I are both pretty intense humans. We are really passionate and dominant. I thought I had a lot of energy until I met Gabe. Tucker has a double dose of our energy. He is all over the place and really silly—a super energetic, very alert baby with a very proud mom and dad.”
THE INSIDE SCOOP with KATHRYN
WHAT IS ONE THING THAT HAS SURPRISED YOU ABOUT MOTHERHOOD? Just how hard being a mom is, and how much I love my baby. I knew it would be hard, and I knew I would love him, but I could have never imagined how much.
WHAT ASPECT HAVE YOU STRUGGLED WITH MOST? This is kind of a Debbie Downer answer, but it’s true! Being a new mom can be very lonely. Everyone is different, but I love to work and I am very social— when you have a new baby people stop calling! I think they think it’s courteous to give you privacy, but I’ve never needed my friends more. I’ve also never needed to work more—we have a little one to provide for now! I’ve heard so many times, "Oh, we didn’t call you for that job because you’re a new mom, and we know you wouldn’t want to do it." Absolutely not true!
WHO HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST HELP WITH TUCKER? My husband.
WHICH BABY PRODUCT COULD YOU NOT LIVE WITHOUT? My stroller.
WILL YOU GO BACK TO WORK FULL TIME AND HOW DO YOU ANTICIPATE THAT TRANSITION? It’s complicated. As a freelance filmmaker I kind of never stopped working, and haven’t really gone back either. I am directing a documentary for AETN on Gov. Mike Beebe, working on distribution for a film I produced titled “All the Birds Have Flown South,” and I’m writing a screenplay. It is a blessing that I can do most of this from home, in PJ’s, with Tucker on my hip! I’m also incredibly blessed to have my mother-in-law and my mom to help when we need to shoot.
WHAT WERE YOUR FIRST THOUGHTS WHEN YOU SAW TUCKER? I have never known love like this before. I was paralyzed with the purest feeling of love and joy. I will never forget it. It was the happiest moment in my life.
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF TUCKER'S NAME? Gabriel is his dad’s name, and Tucker is my maiden name. I’m named after both my grandmothers, and that has always meant so much to me. I wanted Tucker to have that same feeling of rootedness.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE AND LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT PREGNANCY? The delivery would be my first answer to both. Other than that, my favorite thing was eating whatever I wanted! And least was brushing my teeth. Every time I brushed my teeth when I was pregnant it made me vomit. TMI.
WHAT WAS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU RECEIVED ABOUT MOTHERHOOD? There is nothing certain but change. No matter how good or bad the phase your baby is in, it will change! That helped me treasure the good times and not get too bogged down by the bad.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE ABOUT TO BECOME A NEW MOM? You can do it! Our bodies and our babies are so much smarter and stronger than we think they are. Listen to them! Also, take pictures of everything. The sleep deprivation has made me forget so much already, and the pictures are like a visual diary.