The other day, I finally watched one of the last film projects* I had worked on before Maternity Leave (which turned into being a stay-at-home parent). It was bittersweet, bitter because the movie was the equivalent of diet cookies (yes ladies, tell yourself it tastes just like the real thing and keep shoveling those lies down) and sweet because it took me back to a time of being naive (sometimes ignorance is bliss).
I had a thought that in some ways my experience working within the television and film industry prepared me for motherhood.
Running on little sleep - Projects are a lot of work and start way before production begins. Planning, scheduling, casting, building, costumes, shooting, editing, re-shooting, scoring, marketing and distributing are just some of the process before, during and after. Long hours for the many people involved so one person cannot let a bad night ruin a working day.
Reset & first positions - Working as a continuity supervisor and production assistant I did a lot of placing objects, furniture and people back into their starting positions during each take. Every evening I collect all of Peaches’ toys, books, debris and put them back in their “homes”. Everything should have a home.
Freelance worries - Being self employed is constantly chasing the next job while trying to focus on the job at hand. Yes, you can seemingly set your own hours and take holiday time whenever.** It is a consistent juggling of chasing, planning, preparing, researching, paying, collecting and worrying. So is parenthood - except your work is alive and you get in legal trouble if something goes awry. Trying to be freelance and a SAHM is the fun I get up to now! YAY!
Patience - With so many people involved in projects, you may spend a lot of time waiting before continuing with the next step. Awaiting decisions from directors, producers, casting directors, talent, writers, designers, and the millions of decisions that go into productions. A little patience goes a long way, especially with the long gruelling hours you and everyone else are putting in. Everyone is trying to do their best, do not let your lack of self-esteem come out as a twat. The world does not centre around you, Peaches! I mean, production people. Cue nervous laughter.
Repetitive - Oh boy! Working in casting I found a lot of my days had repetitive actions, which I weirdly found huge comfort in. A boost to do my best which each actress/actor. I find that same kind of comfort in the schedules I set up for my little one. Oh, what’s that, she has decided to completely change everything as soon as we find our pace? Perfect.
Little big egos - This can be found in any industry, on any playground and asleep in Peaches’ cot. Everyone has their things and that can get in the way of treating others with equal respect. Heck! I get it whenever my husband asks, “how my day was?” But that stems from my fear of being invisible and ignored…
..by Jove I think I am on to something!
Pfft, just kidding.
*The name of the crappy movie will not be mentioned, as so many people put a lot of hard work into it (and I do not want to ostracize myself from future project opportunities). This post is not about berating the film industry for still pumping out manic pixie fixed by emotionally withdrawn man drivel.
**TIP: Do not book your vacation time when schools are not in session - you are more likely to be needed then (lesson learned hard way).
This past week I took a day, well an afternoon, for myself. As I sat waiting for my lunch in the crowded Wagamama’s off Leicester Square, these are some of the my thoughts.
So nervous to just leave the house. M had to practically force me out. I need a push sometimes. I get into these isolated ruts - that the introvert in me sinks into a comfort its always known. Yet the extrovert screams and shakes inty - pushing me deeper into hermit’s shell.
I walk through London - an old friend. Mosey-ing the frequently taken paths. Watching this time. Observing the people around. Remembering how I used to rush and push through the crowd. My agendas, my purposes above others. Feeling exhausted but smug - “if others only knew. They’d be well jealous.” What a prick. An ambitious prick. It did me no good. To travel to that time, place a well meaning hand on her broad shoulders. “There’s more. Enjoy. And don’t let the egos grinds you. We’re all little babies. Be nice. Be proud".
Only moments ago and moments to go. On the train a little girl sang and I ached for your sticky, grabby clutches of those chubby arms. (Really? So soon?) Always I have put you at the center of my everything. So, how do I move ahead. I still don’t know what I want to be.
This was the first time I had gone into London by myself before Peaches came along. There was a lot of emotions that passed through me in a very short duration. But mostly, I felt lost. Lost time traveling to past moments, choices I made and ignored. Lost in the purposeful rush of the crowd. Lost with myself. This is what happens when you do not make regular time for oneself.
I’d like to tell you that I had a moment of clarity. Not really. I just ended up following random people and mimicking their style of walking.
Because I am a lost, lonely child, playing the role of a mother.
Not an instructional blog but the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth - so help me Mom.