Friday, June 25, 2010


I read an article in Newsweek around Mother's Day, about "bad mothers" -- mothers in France who farmed out their offspring to nurses so they could have social lives and sex with their husbands. And Doris Lessing, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, who left her husband in South Africa, and went to London to pursue her writing career ...

"Bad Mother" Doris Lessing left her two toddlers with Daddy, saying, "Nothing is more boring for an intelligent woman than to spend endless amounts of time with small children. I felt I wasn't the best person to bring them up. I would have ended up an alcoholic or a frustrated intellectual like my mother."

"Yay Doris!" I hooted to myself, thinking about my mom, how she spent her life cleaning, caring for the house, slaving over us kids and my father. I'd made up my mind early on to never get hooked on motherhood-wife chores like Mom.

I was convinced Mom was doing what she learned from her mother, and Grandma learned from hers -- a hundred hand-me-down chores, that encourage hovering, excessive cleaning, and "being a stay-at-home mom."

Everyone said that parenthood would end my career, and my romantic rapport with my husband -- they said "When you're a parent you're no longer free to do what you want to do."

Okay, I heard the warnings; I didn't want to be like Mom, but I don't buy into other people's ideas about what's bad or good. We made a baby -- a son -- lovely, adorable, funny, and bright. Yes, life was not the same -- there were new routines, more cleaning, tidying, domestic things to take care of, worry about, learn how to handle, and enjoy.

Even so, I was able to perform in Europe, the Far East, and "Down Under" in Australia, dance as a soloist with symphony orchestras -- expand my dance company, continue building my career as a choreographer-director. And be there, be a watchful, adoring mother for our son, and continue to be a romantically loving wife.

If we hadn't had money (from JC's earnings as an actor-singer), it would have been more difficult -- we couldn't have had "Vonnie" -- a cheerful, reliable baby sitter/housekeeper at our beck and call for six years, and then, whenever we needed her.

Both of us, even to this day, feel guilty -- JC because our son loved tennis and wanted to play in the Junior Tennis tournaments and JC had no time to escort him there, and I, because I didn't attending PTA meetings and said YES when our eight-year-old son had a chance to understudy a part in one of JC's shows.

But when we're together (he's married, living in L.A.), the four of us hug, and sing what we sang whenever one of us came home from a trip -- "We're a family! We're a family!" And we really are.

Advice: You can have your cake -- career and family too. Listen to your inner voice. When there's a will, there's a way to do what you want to do.


Rita said...

I don't get on the computer often, but when I do I try to read your blog. I'm glad I read this one. I'm printing it for "Vonnie". She will be thrilled.
I enjoy reading your blogs and opinions about such a variety of things.

Inge Hanson said...

Thanks for writing this - I am feeling quite overwhelmed with work and Iwan and a certain amount of guilt - plus I have a cold! This boosted me up though!