Putting Motherhood on the Front Page with Laura Lillie
It’s a Loving!
I write and create for a living. Whether as a clear means-to-an-end, or more often a circuitous way to make ends meet, to pay the mortgage, the car, groceries, or endless tanks of gas to get two boys to hockey etc. I hustle ideas.
Our old semi detached house where I do most of my work, kinds doubles as a a clearing house of pitches and treatments stacked on available surfaces, shuffled, shredded and recycled, admittedly sometimes stuffed into the linen closet or inside the piano bench when guests come to visit.
As the daughter of an Independent Producer, I learned early on the importance of having ‘irons in the fire’ and like any of us who try to market their creative, am used to rejection, but no longer seek validation to know whether what I’ve written is good or not. ‘No’ is really just ‘not now or not for us’. But when a ‘Yes’ comes knocking, it’s a big deal. It creates work for me and work for others in my field too. I love that!
Writing for work has a certain value attached. However, when it comes to writing for sheer pleasure alone, it is often regarded as a total waste of time. Goddess-help-you if said pleasure-writer happens to be a young woman-wife-mother, who buys into the trappings of the idea that taking time out to pour her own thoughts onto pages is ‘stealing time’ away from being useful to the family through housework or earning extra money for more, like a private school education or to buy a bigger house, a better car. All reasonable goals sure, but at what cost?
This was me, a decade ago, the mother of two small boys, in a marriage that would soon be no longer, feeling isolated, a bit frightened about the future and drowning in mother guilt when I did pretty much anything that was not ‘on task’.
When you see your purpose through a narrow, patriarchal periscope, what self-serving pleasure is NOT a guilty one? Back when my sons were babies, I didn’t grasp that if I nurtured myself, in turn I nurtured those around me. I had all these stories bursting out of me, but when I’d sit to write it was as though a blanket of guilt wrapped me tightly, cinching my chest, holding my fingers back from taking flight across the keyboard. I would hammer out sentences through sheer determination, rather delighting in the process. Until, I finally woke up.
The awakening happened over time. Little truisms presented and then took days, weeks or months to steep and finally blossom into clear lessons. I certainly did not have the tools then that I do now, but I would hear things that hit me like a shockwave of truth, zinging through my core. Things like: “The mother is the barometer for the family” What a heavy comment, yet so true.
After paying attention to my own family unit and those close to me, I realized a happy mom indeed has a profound trickle effect on those around her. Especially, her children. From then on, whenever I heard a mom speak her dreams in the playground or at a coffee play date, I would cheer her on and know in my heart that if this mother could meet her dreams, the whole family would benefit, and ultimately, the whole world too.
I began to realize how powerful, we women are and how important it is for us and important for the world that we cultivate our dreams and stand for one another, and stand for ourselves.
So be it. We enrolled our then three year-old son into a morning preschool a few days per week. After drop off the three-year-old, I would travel back home with the baby, blabbing away to him and singing songs in hopes he would stay awake until we returned home so I could ‘steal’ his full nap time of 60 – 90 precious minutes each day for myself to write stories.
The dishes sat in the sink, the laundry piled to tipping point, and I wrote. Funny thing, the clothes and the babies didn’t care a toss. I started to relax into our routine. At preschool, my three-year-old discovered friends, new toys, music, and stories. My baby slumbered upstairs in his crib and he always woke to a mother who couldn’t wait to see him again!
I dove deep into stories and bobbed and weaved between moments of sheer bliss when the minutes passed like seconds and I laughed and cried with the characters on the page. Still, now and again I dipped back into moments of panic mode when the grand seductress, Mother-Guilt herself, caught me off-guard, tugging at the cloak to remind me how my only ‘free time’ of the day was now eaten up by words I lavished on pages that may never even be met or enjoyed by another soul.
During those years I wrote two feature length screenplays. I also wrote poems and a few narratives that would be published in a magazine, national newspaper and an online food column.
I didn’t understand the value of pleasure back then. I just knew that writing felt like a holy hang-ten and that I was (am) more at peace when I practice writing regularly.
“I never understand why people make a fuss over me as a writer. I’m just the garden hose that water sprays through.” – Joyce Carol Oates
Today I know that a mother’s self-care and creative expression are examples for children to learn from. Whatever creative outlet makes our heart sing is worth exploring and that using our gifts is our life’s purpose. I didn’t know then that it was my own divine voice, calling me to write. I heard the calling, but I didn’t recognize or trust the voice the way I do now.
So, don’t wait…for your kids to be older, for more money to arrive, or for someone else to validate you or your creativity. Decorate the world with your pleasure today even if just a little. Start. Through this act, your children will witness true divinity in action, they will inadvertently learn to honor and respect the feminine, and themselves.
The screenplays I wrote are personal. I love them unconditionally and just getting them written was satisfaction enough. Until now, I have not worked at getting them made the same way I approach marketing the stories I create for ‘work’. However, the voice I so clearly recognize now as my own inner divine, spoke to me recently and said, “It’s time to share these too.” As I return to these works of fiction, both inspired by factual themes of love, tolerance and truth, in a way these stories are time-capsulated messages to myself, marking a decade of personal growth in a most unexpected way. These old familiar characters revealing something more now than the story on the page; Saying, ‘Look how far you’ve come. Look how far we’ve all come’.
Laura Lillie Mathews is a mother. She writes, produces and directs documentary series and factual entertainment programming. She also writes fictional feature length screenplays. She loves to write about love and the triumph of the human spirit. She lives in Toronto, Canada and is Head of Creative for Summerhill Entertainment, an independent production company.
Celebrating mothers this month on Laundry Line Divine means we are Putting Motherhood on the Front Page. All month I will be sharing guest blog posts from the Out of the Mouths of Babes blog series here on the front page. In this collection of writing, women who are artists, authors, dancers, filmmakers and quilters will be sharing their creative journeys. I am convinced that the stories these women share illuminate the territory of motherhood with a detail and expansiveness that is rarely found elsewhere.
I know very well that some of the readers of Laundry Line Divine don’t have children. For a myriad of complicated and intensely personal reasons, you don’t have kids.
But, you do mother in so many other ways.
Coleen Davidson’s post says it so well. Women, by nature, are ‘madres’ to others. It is in our female DNA to care for others. While I will never stand here and say that one choice or situation is better than another, since I am a mother, this is my perspective. I never, ever want what happens here on Laundry Line Divine to feel like a club, exclusive membership only. I know women who have become stepmothers at 45. I know women who have adopted at 43. I know women who are perfectly happy without children and get immense joy out of showering nieces and nephews with a standard of care and attention no mother could muster. I also know there are some great guys who read these posts. Thank you each! When I welcome the stories of mothers, I am welcoming the stories of all women who own their creative powers, whether you birth babies, books or business. Please let me know if you’d like to contribute to this series by writing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can take some of this goodness home with you.
Consider buying a copy of An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice, which compiles some of the blog posts and writing from the live events I host for the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers called Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others. Mandy Steward of Messy Canvas wrote this review.
Here is the book trailer. I haven’t shared it much yet, but I’d love you to take a peek.
I should tell you that Anthology author Lissa Rankin’s new book, Mind Over Medicine, is making it’s way on to the New York Times bestseller list.
Lissa is offering a free gift. You can go here to learn more about the book and get your gift.
Enjoy this May day!