I Am Your Mother

Meghan Trainor sitting on the ground in a white dress, playfully holding her son with green curtains...

Meghan Trainor's TMI Life

At the pop star's family compound, things are just getting started.

by Gillian Telling

Meghan Trainor would like to make one thing clear: She is not ashamed of her toilets.

Last October, when Trainor’s older brother, Ryan, was chatting with comedian Nicole Byer on her Why Won’t You Date Me podcast, he let it slip that his pop star sister and her husband, actor Daryl Sabara, had such a close relationship that they had two toilets in their main bathroom. Sitting side by side. You know, in case they ever needed to use them at the same time. The revelation went viral, inspiring countless headlines and Twitter jokes, but Trainor wasn’t bothered. “Fuck it,” she says. “It’s still awesome. I love it, and I’m proud of it.”

As for the why: Trainor explains that after giving birth to their son, Riley, she and Sabara would get up every two hours to change him, and she would get sick of waiting for her turn to pee. “I’d be like, ‘I have to piss! Move it!’” she says. So during renovations on their house, she asked her contractor to remove a bidet and replace it with another loo. “He was like, ‘OK…’ But it’s my favorite part of the house.”

The story is the clearest picture of where Trainor is at 28: hilariously candid, with zero squeamishness about poop or pee or periods or sex or skin rashes or stretch marks. When I first greet her at her house and go in for a hug, I quickly apologize for my slightly “au natural” aroma — reader, it’s hot as hell in L.A. — and she offers me her own deodorant. On her TikTok, she jokes about having to perform while she has anal fissures. (“Not even from butt stuff,” she clarifies.) On her podcast, Workin’ On It With Meghan Trainor and Ryan Trainor, the siblings discuss everything from the perils of dating in L.A. to living with anxiety. The truth is, since becoming a mom in February 2021, she doesn’t give two shits about what people think of trivial things like her unique bathroom fixtures. Literally. She and Sabara did try pooping together one time but decided to never do that again. “He’s a smelly boy,” she says.

On Meghan: Alejandra Alonso Rojas jacket, Joanna Laura Constantine earrings and ring; On Riley: Janie and Jack onesie and hat, Riley’s own glasses

On this late summer day, Trainor is curled up in the corner of a very enormous, very squishy sectional that dominates her bright and airy open-concept living room. While there are undeniable rock-star vibes here — like the wall of glass overlooking what will one day be a grotto-style swimming pool — the space is also dotted with the toys, baby gates, and cabinet locks you’ll find in any living room with a 19-month-old nearby. We watch as Riley, with his shock of red hair, pads around us, happily removing his Fisher Price farm animals from their barn and then patiently putting them back in their exact same spot.

When I joke that Riley has the hand-eye coordination of a brain surgeon, Trainor mentions she’s worried he’s not babbling enough yet; even pop stardom cannot insulate you from the same basic concerns that every new mom has: Is my kid on track? Should I Google this? I assure her that his babbling sounds exactly like my two boys did at that age, and she looks relieved. Motherhood, she says, can be fraught with worry — but she also never imagined she’d love it so damn much. “I get to be a pop star during the day and then give my kid a bath at night? It’s like, pinch me.”

The day before we meet, Trainor performed on The Late Late Show With James Corden, one of her first live performances since the pandemic. Her walls are littered with framed gold and platinum records, not just for her own albums, but hits she’s written for Jennifer Lopez, Fifth Harmony, and others. In the eight years since she first topped with the charts with “All About That Bass,” Trainor has matured with her music, trying out new sounds, recording a Christmas album, and expanding into television with regular gigs on competition shows and an NBCUniversal deal that could see her try scripted comedy. (Not a leap if you follow her on TikTok.)

Singing, though, remains her first love. Her new album, Takin’ It Back, comes out Oct. 21, and several of the songs, like new single “Don’t I Make It Look Easy,” touch on the demands of new-mom life. Trainor thinks the transformations of parenthood — physical, emotional — have unlocked something in her. “I don’t know why, but I feel like my voice is the best it’s ever been,” she says.

“Everyone tells me, ‘You can’t keep your kid in a bubble,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh but I can.’”

Trainor actually wasn’t that much older than Riley when her parents realized she could sing — like, really sing. “When I was little, my mom would sing me lullabies in bed and I’d sing harmony on her,” she says. “I’d be like, ‘It’s cool, Mom, I’ll get the upper third.’” As she grew older, she’d watch music awards shows in awe of her heroes like Britney Spears and Beyoncé, and her mom, Kelli, would tell her, “That will be you someday.”

Trainor thought she was crazy, but there was no denying the music was in her. Growing up in Nantucket, Massachusetts, where her father was a music teacher, Trainor often felt frustrated in school. “I’d sit there in a class while my teacher played a movie, and I’d be like, ‘This is pointless. I could be writing a song right now,’” she says. While she’s a firm believer in education, that experience already has her convinced that she wants to homeschool her kids — for preschool, at the very least. She and Sabara have already turned their attic into an enormous school room for Riley and his future siblings. (Trainor says she’s going to start trying for baby No. 2 later this fall, and eventually wants at least three, if not four. “I would love twins,” she says. “A two-for-one deal.”)

“I want to hire a preschool teacher that will be able to teach emotions,” she says. “How to handle it when you want to freak out and scream, because they don’t usually do that.” She adds, “And not to get dark here, but [in regular schools, you have to worry about] guns and all that stuff. I don’t really want to send my kids somewhere where I’m just like, ‘Hope to see you later!’ It’s horrible. Horrible. There’s all those victims’ parents thinking, ‘I never thought it would happen to me’ until it fucking does. Everyone tells me, ‘You can’t keep your kid in a bubble,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh, but I can.’”

On Meghan: Alejandra Alonso Rojas jacket, St. John bra, Veronica Beard pants, Joanna Laura Constantine earrings and ring, Jimmy Choo shoes; On Riley: Janie and Jack onesie and hat, Riley’s own glasses

She has a lot of help when it comes to building that bubble. Trainor and Sabara recently hired a nanny but relied a lot on Trainor’s family in the first year and a half of his life. “My brothers Ryan and Justin live in my house,” she says. “I’m like, ‘Do not leave! It’s a scary world. You’re staying here.’” (“Why would I ever leave here?” asks Ryan, who lives in the guesthouse. “This place is a paradise.”) Her mom lives just 20 minutes away and works as her assistant, and Trainor has hired her aunt to help cook them all healthy meals as well as her landscaper uncle to take care of the gardens.

She also leans on her circle of famous mom pals, which includes actors Hilary Duff and Ashley Tisdale. They all went on a moms getaway weekend over the summer. “I got lucky. All the moms in our group are so cool,” she says. “The other day I texted them like, ‘My butt is acting up,’ and someone sent me their butt doctor — literally saved my ass. I was just with Hailey Beiber and was like, ‘The best thing you can do when you have a baby is find a group of moms and join them.’ It’s our lifelines.” The group is equally grateful for Trainor. “Meghan is one of the best,” Tisdale says. “She is the most supportive friend in everything. You don’t find that a lot in L.A., but it just shows how confident and secure she is. And she’s the ultimate mom. Everything she does is for Riley. That kid is so lucky to have her as a mom.”

“I luckily didn’t have a birth plan. I was like, ‘Oh, was I supposed to make that up? I thought that was your job!’”

Of course, there’s also Sabara, a former child actor who starred in the Spy Kids franchise. They married in 2018, after being set up by their mutual friend, actor Chloë Grace Moretz. “I told her I wanted to hook up with someone,” she says. “I was like, ‘I’m a pop star, and I’m not even getting laid.’ But then he kissed me at the bowling alley after I had a strike, and it was a magic moment.” She knew then she didn’t want to just hook up with Sabara — she wanted to marry him. Today, he loves parenting as much as his wife. “This feels cheesy, but it’s made me feel more like myself,” Sabara says of becoming a dad. He grew up with a single mother and never saw himself becoming a parent. “But I honestly think I was born to be one, which is weird,” he adds. “It's like I almost don’t know what I was doing with my life before Riley.”

Fendi jacket, White + Warren skirt, Ettika earrings and rings (left hand); Joanna Laura Constantine ring (right hand)

That doesn’t mean her pregnancy was an easy ride. It was the opposite. “I’d gained 15 Covid pounds before I got pregnant, so I felt massive,” she says, “and my face was breaking out with a dermatitis, so it was like eczema all around my mouth. I had gestational diabetes, so I had to test my blood all day long. I was over it.”

Riley’s birth was even rougher. Toward the end, she found out he was breech, so her doctors scheduled her for a C-section. “I was like, ‘I didn’t prepare for this, but let’s rock.’ I luckily didn’t have a birth plan,” she says. During one appointment, a doctor asked for hers, “and I was like, ‘Oh, was I supposed to make that up? I thought that was your job!’” As I pretend-shame her for not having a drug-free home birth on her living room rug, she laughs. “Hilary is like that,” she says of Duff, who had her daughter Banks without drugs at home in a tub full of water. “We call her a psychopath.”

White + Warren cardigan, Eres bra top, Cecilie Bahnsen skirt, Joanna Laura Constantine earrings, Cast rings, Alevi shoes

When Riley finally arrived, Trainor says she was relieved by how cute he was. “I saw my aunt give birth to two babies, and they looked like aliens coming out,” she says. “I told Daryl, ‘Prepare yourself because he could be a monster for the first month.’” But there were challenges right away. Riley spent some time in the NICU because he had trouble waking up to feed — and the hospital nurses had no problem suggesting Trainor was to blame. “They kept asking me if I was on antidepressants during the pregnancy, and I was, but on the lowest dose possible, and all my doctors said it was safe and wouldn’t affect him,” she says. “It was really fucked up. They had no name for what was wrong. He just wouldn’t wake up. They said, ‘It’s really up to Riley when he wants to wake up.’ I’d be like ‘Really? Can’t you just zap him and get him up?’” I tell her about my similar experiences with the NICU after my son was diagnosed with a rare birth defect called an imperforate anus, which meant he had to have a surgically repaired anus and colon. (Or, as we joke, the doctors had to “tear him a new asshole.”) Trainor laughs with me. “So iconic. I hope he’s gay when he grows up,” she says, so he can brag about having a state-of-the-art “man-made butthole.”

“But you just take all the blame [when you’re a working mom]. Men don’t have that same feeling, and they’re shocked that we do.”

She and Sabara took Riley home after five days, but she says he still didn’t cry much for the first month of his life, which started her down rabbit holes of anxiety: “We kept being like, ‘Uh oh, what’s up with him? Is this what serial killers are like when they’re first born? They never cry?’”

She recently broke down because Riley used to say “mama” all the time, but then he switched to saying “dada.” She assumed it was her fault for working too much. “I literally had a meltdown over it,” she says. “But you just take all the blame [when you’re a working mom]. Men don’t have that same feeling, and they’re shocked that we do.”

She’s channeled those feelings into her music. “Superwoman,” a tearjerker from her new album, is about how hard moms are on themselves. “All the wives, all these mamas, you can’t cry, you can’t be like ‘Today was fucking tough,’” she says. “Nope, you have to be like, ‘Everything’s perfect; we’re all perfect and happy.’ And it’s not easy.” She doesn’t know why we suffer more than dads in this department, but she is sure of one thing: “Women are just stronger and smarter. We make life, you know what I mean?”

On Meghan: Cecilie Bahnsen dress, Joanna Laura Constantine earrings, Cast ring; On Riley: Sammy + Nat cardigan, Riley’s own shorts and glasses

Sabara, to his credit, has been a doting partner. While she was pregnant, “he literally fed me, and tested my blood with me, and would get everything ready for me,” she says. “I was like, ‘You’re so fucking cute.’ I even got foot massages every night.” (They didn’t have sex during the pregnancy: “I just felt not great, and like he was going to hurt the baby,” she says, laughing, “but he loved me anyway, and we did other stuff.”)

Having Riley has only strengthened their marriage. “We got terrible advice when we got married,” Sabara says. “These older generations were like, ‘When you get married, your love life is over.’ And when she was pregnant they’d say, ‘When your child’s life begins, your life ends.’ We both agreed that that is bullshit. We never felt that way when we got married, and then with Riley, life has only gotten better.”

Trainor couldn’t agree more. She looks around at their home, her friends and family chatting nearby in the kitchen, her husband cradling Riley and getting him ready for a playdate. “It’s everything I ever dreamed of,” she says. “Years ago, when people asked, ‘Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I’m like, right here. But I never even thought it could be this good.”

Top Image Credits: On Meghan: Cecilie Bahnsen dress, Joanna Laura Constantine earrings, Cast ring, Larroude shoes; On Riley: Sammy + Nat clothing, Riley’s own shorts and glasses

Photographer: Amy Harrity

Stylist: EJ Briones

Set Designer: Gabriela Cobar

Hair: Dimitris Giannetos

Makeup: Alison Christian

Talent Bookings: Special Projects

Video: Sam Miron