Nia Vardalos: Instant Mom

Nothing prepared me for the love I would feel for my child. Nothing prepared me for how quickly it happened for me. And here’s what I just figure out now: no one is ever prepared.” Nia Vardalos, Instant Mom

Nia Vardalos is warm, funny and engaging. I am nervous for our conversation, but she immediately sets me at ease by assuring me that if I could see her, I wouldn’t be so nervous. At the moment, I’m just thrilled she can’t see me. I have not brushed my hair in 48 hours. I am wearing a ski cap. I slept in my sweatshirt. I take some comfort in knowing, this kind of unkemptness is familiar ground for her. Like myself, Nia is a mom. Unlike myself, who had 9 months and 2 weeks to prepare for each of my children, she had a mere 14 hours.

Instant Mom is Nia’s hilarious and emotive new book. In it, Nia, first made famous for satirizing her Greek family in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, chronicles her experience with infertility and finally her long journey through the adoption system; a journey which culminated in being matched with an energetic and, at times, right-hook-throwing, toddler.

Instant Mom is both guidebook and cheerleader for parents (and parents-to-be) considering adoption. She makes no judgments as to whether foreign or domestic, open or closed, public or private, adoption is preferable; saying only that every child deserves to be loved.

When I ask her what advice she can offer to people thinking of pursuing this path to parenthood, she says, “Read as much as you can and then decide what’s right for you. Just listen to that inner voice.”

Nia assures me that the biggest myth about adoption is that it is expensive and difficult, and that there is something wrong with the children who are adoptable. She refutes all of these claims, but especially the last. All the vast majority of these children need, is a loving home.

What strikes me most, however, is that Nia’s story isn’t just one of the adoptive parent, it’s one of every parent. Not one of us knows what we are doing. Each parent is an instant parent, whether we were handed our child from a midwife, obstetrician or social worker. In a single moment, our lives are transformed.

Nia shares moments of pure terror in this journey, like watching her daughter choke on a hard candy or realizing the stray dog living in her home is, in fact, half coyote (ok, as a reader, that was more hilarious than terrifying), but there are also moments of transcendent beauty – the first utterance of “mom” and “dad”, hands held in the night, kisses given and received – moments every parent can recognize.   

When it comes to control, parents don’t get a safety bar to grip on this ride. I just have to grin through my chattering teeth and lean into every gut-churning dip. I see it all around me right now- I’m in a room of adults who know that sharp pang of nostalgia when we look at a picture of our child taken just yesterday.”

Now that her daughter is in school, I ask her if she has any advice for surviving the toddler years. “Don’t buy anything new,” she says. “It’s like having a puppy around.” I look over as I type, to see my daughter peeing on the floor.

Nia is so wise.

Instant Mom will officially be released on April 2, but you can win a copy here! Simply comment below with your favourite bit of parenting advice (non-parents can participate too)! One winner will be randomly selected on Monday, April 1.

Find out more:
Instant Mom - read the goods, straight from the publisher and buy a copy near you!

Adoption in Canada
– a great resource about where to start. “Of the more than 78,000 children in Canada’s child welfare system, approximately 30,000 are legally free or eligible for adoption.”


  1. Sounds like a great read! I would love to check out the book (or win a copy!)

    As for my parenting advice...it sounds cliche...but enjoy every moment. It's amazing how fast time flies! Even on the tough days, remember the gift you've been given. The little ones grow up so fast. I want to look back knowing I cherished each day, each moment with my little man.

  2. I love winning things!!!

    My parenting advice is play play play!!! With all the parenting books, philosophies, preachers, blah blah out there these days, it can be too easy to try to define your parenting style and your child. Just take it as it comes, and play every day. Oh, and read Jennie's blog!

  3. My parenting advice would be to always remember to breath, laugh, and trust your gut! Whenever we get too comfortable in the day to day life as parents the little guy throughs us something we're completely unprepared for. Though no matter what it is, those 3 little things make a big difference :)

  4. I love Nia !!! My parenting advice is really very simple...roll with the punches...it seems cliche, but I really believe as I have been a parent for almost six years now...that you need to just sit back and relax, save worry for the big things and enjoy every moment as it happens. My husband and I both are very laid back with our kids and in response, they are as well.

  5. My advice: Honesty is not always the best policy. Too often we honestly don't feel like being nice, or playing, or waiting while you put your stuffed dog to bed before you get under the covers. Sometime we are honestly just too tired to care about anything, or too distracted to listen to your non-sentence as you go on for ten minutes to tell me that there's a bird outside the window. Honesty is not always the best policy because most of it has nothing to do with the little one. She doesn't understand tired, or grumpy, or overworked, or stressed, and teaching her about them may not be the best idea. Instead of being honest, I advise being kind, being patient, being available. (I find this works well with adults too.)

  6. Hmm ... as a new mom, I think my advice for moms would be to not compare oneself to others. Sometimes I look at other moms, and they seem to have it all together. Just as I certainly don't have it all together, I have to remind myself that they don't, either. I think we moms need to be more kind to ourselves, and also more honest about our struggles -- it's not about being perfect, it's about trying our best and admitting our shortcomings. In a similar way, I would advise new moms (and dads, too, of course) to try not to compare their kids to other kids. Every child is unique, just as every parent is unique.

  7. Advice from me and my Mom (we would both love to read Nia's book!): Expose your child to as much as life has to offer - music, sports, theatre, outdoor play, books, nature, hiking, pets, skiing, skating - and be observant to what the child enjoys or where they show a particular strength or interest. Then offer (not force) the child further opportunity to develop their strengths in that area (e.g., joining a soccer team, playing a music instrument, taking figure skating, having a pet, playing hockey). These observations and the opportunity for these experiences should be ongoing to help the child develop their full potential, develop life-long skills and enrich their lives forever.

  8. I really like the parenting advice that says get the whole family involved in household chores, especially at a young age. I saw my mom get so stressed out because she tried to do things by herself all the time, without delegating or sharing responsibilities. Plus, it helps teach your kids that chores can be fun! ( a lesson I myself still need to learn)