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).
On Mothering Sunday* my husband nervously smiled as he handed me a gift bag**. Inside was a book with a jarring title of, "How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids", making me think divorce papers might be included inside scribed with ‘or else’ in red sharpie.
I have brought back my Sanity Savers for this book by Jancee Dunn.
Many nights I spent giggling, mmm-hmmming and quoting aloud to my other half***. Being an anxious person, a new parent, stay-at-home parent and an expat parent are all very isolating in their own right. Living as all three, has been very exhaustingly lonely journey but while reading “HNtHYHAK” it less so. As if I was having a good natter with someone who “gets it” and has done thorough research as they are struggling themselves. Relationships are complex and under the pressures of child rearing we tend to turn on those closest to us (eventually turning away from each other).
The cover says it all, Dunn is an upfront, honest, funny and brilliant writer. I recommend “How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids” to anyone in a couple who may be considering children****, creating children or maintaining children.
*yes, I greedily celebrate both UK and International Mother's Days
**yes, I am super hard to shop for
***yes, he is proud he got a gift I enjoy, really, I am the worst
****looking at you, little sister
Both pairs of swim suits - check
Two swim towels - check
At least two special swim diapers - check
Regular diapers - check
Wipes - check
Two plastic bags for dry and wet apparel - check
Arm floaties - check
Body wash for sensitive skin - check
Sippy cup with water - check
Packed lunch - check
Handgel - check
Wallet with 20p for locker rental - check
House keys - check
Mobile phone - check
Bus pass - check
Giant reusable shopping bag to carry everything - check
Pram to haul it all around in - check
And am I forgetting anything? Oh yes, the toddler.
Off we go to the unsheltered bus stop in the middle of the field, hoping it does not rain while we wait. Our bus pulls up after the 100th time I check my bus times app - check to make sure there is room for our buggy. Bingo! We are off the a local (someone's, not very local to us) leisure centre for toddler splash. Twenty (or so) minutes later we fumble our way awkwardly off the bus, sorry-sorry mustn't look incompetent or hold anyone up for a second longer than I have to. We walk up and around the long way to avoid the lifts (f*** you shifty-eyed maniacal closets) and we are in!
Almost. We queue up behind other exhausted parents/carers, pay our fee and buzz around the corner to park-up the stroller. No, leave it, this way, come on Peaches, let’s go. I maneuver this tiny creature while carrying all our crap and pretending her head is a giant joystick. This way, this way, through the security gates as they buzz us in. We made it!
Just about. A little side stepping action to grab some shower caps for my shoes and we enter the locker rooms area. I have learned my lesson and we bee-line for the family changing areas. Peaches sits on the bench removing everything from our giant shopping bag as I quickly wrestle this soft globular body into my swim costume. Now to disrupt her exploring to balance her on the hard rickety benches to wrangle Peaches into the swim nappy and her costume. Mum! Mmmum! She shouts, as my title has become synonymous with “no, mine and stop” in her mind. I repack the shopping bag, grab that mighty girl up and head to the… LOCKERS.
Nearly there! I pat our way through the puddled labyrinth of metal container trying to locate one large enough to accommodate our stuff. A large one is free, perfect! I shove our things in number 72, place my 20p in the slot, close the door and turn the bracelet key. DAMN, the strap is broken.. I shove it under my cleavage quickly as it is finally pool time! Just about.
With Peaches in my clutches we pad over to the shower wall for a complete rinse down (you would be surprised how many people skip this part). I peek out at the pool and see the instructor has started rounding everyone into a circle. Everything takes longer with kids, so we are typically late. We toddle briskly to the pool area and wade into the warm waters joining the other exhaustive children and their beleaguered parents.
Once the session is finished, we do everything all over again but in reverse while shivering and sopping wet. What fun!
I love swimming but Peaches has not taken to as quickly I thought she might. It is a process, with each session she gets a little more comfortable with another aspect of the activity.
So why do I go through all this trouble at all?
Because it is important and character building or something along those lines.
I don’t know.
Not an instructional blog but the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth - so help me Mom.