Tuesday, March 18, 2014
The highlight of International Women's day this March 8th for me was the free online screening of Lost In Living a documentary film that confronts the contradictions inherent in personal ambition and self-sacrifice, female friendship and mental isolation, big projects and dirty dishes. More specifically this film follows 4 artists over a period of 7 years. 2 are best friends embarking in motherhood for the first time and 2 are women in the later stages of life looking back on how they managed their families and careers.
I have waited a long time to watch this film with much anticipation. And I was not disappointed.
What the filmmakers were able to capture so well was the profoundness of the change that occurs when you birth a baby and how in the aftermath you flounder and float simultaneously. Unlike the women in this film I had not established an art career prior to having my boys so I didn't have the pressure of maintaining it during the most intense first years in babyland. The complexity of moving back and forth from artist to mama is indescribable but is a struggle that all parents trying to feed their ambitions while raising children face. What is different to me about being an artist and doing this and what the film really gets at is that the emotional and creative toll of making this type of work inevitably leaves casualties. Whether they are your kids, your career ambitions or your sanity something has to take a back burner. And when that happens there will be something left behind that may never present itself again.
The depth of the relationship between the two new moms really hit home for me as well. Having a best friend that I am traveling this motherhood roller-coaster with has made a huge difference for me. Our styles of mothering are not identical but compliment each other enough that we did not experience a long period of emotional isolation from each other as Kristina and Caren did and I am grateful for that.
Marjorie and Merrill offered a perspective that gave me hope but also resonated the most deeply with me. Hope emerged when I saw that they were still working and had grown families that more or less functioned and were successful. What hit to my core was that Merrill's definition of success still eluded her. One could not help but wonder if that was due to motherhood, was merely a product of her generation's lingering sexism, or had a wrong place wrong time randomness. Regardless it left me with the truth that what will be will be and I will have to let my view of success remain fluid as I age.
Nothing was sugar coated, this is a film that tackles these issues head on and lets you watch 4 women make their choices and lie in the beds they've made. Raw and personal it confronts the reality that mothers face when navigating the myriad of choices we are so privileged to have.