So – I don’t have kids myself, but as an independent producer I have to hire people who do. I also have A CREATIVE MUM who worked throughout my childhood (and adulthood – she hasn’t stopped) of whom I’m impossibly proud.
Not that this was always the case – in the 80s, when I was quite little, I didn’t think it was very cool to have a mum whose job description was “Storyteller”, and who had a battered old Renault 4 that used to break down on the street outside school.
I’ll never forget her trying to drive me to school in that very car, wearing a red bucket on her head, with tinfoil stars stuck on it, ready for a storytelling session later that day. Because, what would people think?! “ARGH MUM you are so embarrassing!” Fortunately for me, it quickly became apparent that you can’t fit in a car with a bucket on your head and still drive safely.
Anyway – growing up, I learned an important lesson from all this, which is that MUMS WORK. And while of course its fine if you are able to choose not to, I believe it should be just that – a choice. Not an impossible dream which can’t sit alongside trying to get food on the table, getting home in time to pick kids up from school, or seeing them before they go to bed.
And those things are hard enough to arrange between two parents, both with ‘normal’ 9-5 jobs. But the industry we’ve chosen to work in really is a bitch. We all work really hard, often for long periods of time with no or low pay, and then we go into production where our working days are at least 14 hours long (or more if you count prepping for the next day, letting people in in the morning, waiting for the last person to finish at the end of the night to lock up, sorting out problems before the next shooting day starts etc. etc. etc.); for between 4 and 12 weeks at a stretch.
But on the plus side, we also get to be creative. We get to be in love with our work, and our films. And sometimes we even get paid for it. If we could just make our industry a little easier for those people trying to negotiate those crazy hours AND children, it would be a far better place to be – for us and those little people learning how to be an adult from what we do.
Years and years after the bucket incident, when I was about 15, my mum had her first children’s book published. She is now a well-known children’s author with over 250 books published (if you have kids, her name is Vivian French, and you probably have one of her books on your shelf!).
So, regardless of what your children think of you at the time, because they don’t yet understand why, sometimes you have to wear a bucket on your head. Sometimes it takes years and years of hard work, but there are far worse and harder ways to earn money while getting to where you want to be. One day they will understand that CREATIVE MUMS WHO WORK are a good thing, and be impossibly proud of you too. Dreams do come true.