At the helm of Indian Country’s first-ever Native American female comedy group Ladies of Native Comedy along with being a member of star-packed 49 Laughs Comedy, Adrianne Chalepah is the definition of a working mom. We admire the hard work and dedication she puts into raising her sons into kind men and pursuing her comedy career, which is why we decided to sit down with Adrianne about balancing motherhood.
What’s your tribe? Where are you from?
I’m enrolled Kiowa but also Apache of Oklahoma. Kiowa/Apache for short. Depending on my mood, I’m from Anadarko, Oklahoma. Also from Lawton, Cache, and Zoletone. I’m from all of Southwest Oklahoma.
We know you’re a comedian, but what do you all do currently?
I do stand up comedy. I’m a member of two excellent groups – 49 Laughs Comedy alongside James Junes, Ernest David Tsosie, Tatanka Means, and Pax Harvey. I’m also the founder of Ladies of Native Comedy alongside Teresa Choyguha and Deanna MAD. I also do keynote speaking, workshops, and writing.
What’s it like being a working mom?
It’s crazy hard. Parenting is hard enough. Then throw personal career goals on top of that, and it feels impossible at times. I am always feeling like I’m failing miserably in at least one area, in not all areas, at any given moment. Then my sons will do something incredible, and I felt proud and reassured that I’m doing the best I can.
Being a working mom is such a delicate balance. How do you balance motherhood and your career?
I knew at a young age that I was ambitious. In high school, I told everyone I was going to be the first Native president of the U.S. Haha I was crazy. I’m a dreamer, and I refuse to stop. Sometimes I wish I was “normal” and could sit still. I fantasize about my children having a “normal mom” and how awesome I would be at meal prep and home decor. Then I accept that I have to be myself. Having children and motherhood was never a part of my ambitions and dreams, yet the Creator(s) chose this path for me. I have humbly accepted the challenge and feel blessed. My only advice is to take things one day at a time. Be kind and patient with yourself. Continue to work towards your goals and never give up and never compare yourself to others. Just do you, boo boo. We got this!
What is the one thing you wish to teach your children about being a working mom?
I am raising four boys, so I feel a broad sense of responsibility to raise boys who are kind, emotional, caring, and respectful of others – especially women, children, and elders. I teach them to empathize with me – to care for me when I’m sick, to clean our home, to help cook, to take care of one another, to be responsible when I’m gone on the road, to cry when they feel sad, to express themselves when they are angry. I guess the one thing I want to teach them is how to love. Of course, I’m battling a lot of other influences that I can’t control like society, media, and other family members who may differ in their dealings with children, as well as my demons from my childhood.
You’re funny onstage, do you bring that same comedic humor back home with you?
I’m not as funny at home. At home, I’m strict and provide structure. But I do like to laugh and joke with my boys. They have a remarkable sense of humor, too. I try to laugh a little each day at home because I want my boys to remember me by my smile and not how stressed I get.
Why is that important?
It’s important to show our kids that laughter has value. I have one son who can’t be serious about anything. He is always joking, and I fear he might be turning into a class clown. I fear that path for him because I know how much trouble our mouths get us in until we learn how to use our smart ass mouth for something good.
How do you instill culture into your children? Why is it important to do so?
Culture is what keeps us rooted. Without our indigenous knowledge, we wouldn’t have survived genocide. I teach my boys as much as I can, acknowledging that I am still learning myself. I depend on other family members to fill in the gaps. Indigenous knowledge is in a constant state of resurrection and decolonization. I look forward to the day when my sons are teaching me things about our culture. They will be the teachers one day. For now, I show them simple things for example how to smudge and pray, what their long hair means, how to act at night and during storms, and of course, language is one of the hardest areas to continue. Neither my husband or I am fluent speakers, and so we need to work extra hard in this area. It’s a work in progress.
What do you want all working moms out there to know?
Take care of yourself. It is so hard to nurture others when we don’t nurture ourselves. This is something I struggle with too. I put my health on the back burner so that my kids can have a home-cooked meal. I don’t sleep as much as I should. But I am learning. Self-love isn’t natural when all you’ve seen and been taught is self-abuse. My most significant motivation is my kids and being an example for them. So, have the kids eat sandwiches (or salad!) every once in awhile and go for a walk by yourself or get a pedicure if you can afford it, or call a friend and laugh about old times. You need it and deserve it.
Keep up with Adrianne and her adventures by following her at Facebook.com/adriannecomedy.