‘Ricki and the Flash’ and motherhood

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People who follow their passion are often greatly admired. Their dedication is lauded and their ambition applauded. But that’s usually only true if they are successful.

If their efforts are fruitless, however, the response is much different.

For instance, there’s the character of Ricki Rendazzo, played by Meryl Streep in “Ricki and the Flash,” who leaves her husband and young kids to pursue a career as a rock star. Instead of the successful musical career she dreamed of, she sings cover songs in a bar band in Tarzana, California and works as a cashier in a Whole Foods-type of market. If she wasn’t barely surviving on the brink of bankruptcy and was instead a successful singer selling hit records and touring around the country, would it make it acceptable that she left her young kids in order to pursue her dream?

In an interview posted on The Globe and Mail website with the film’s screenwriter Diablo Cody, Cody admitted that the script for ‘Ricki’ is in many ways a projection of her own anxieties as a mother. “Could this be my future?” she asked. “Are my kids going to forgive me for the time I spent away from them because I was passionate about writing movies, or are they going to appreciate it?”

I think that’s a question many working mothers ask. And if a working mother has other interests outside of their workday that they try to fit in between school pick-up and bedtime, is that admirable or poor parenting?

In the last few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time writing new songs – the lyrics and melodies are what comes most naturally and I can do that while driving or doing things around the house. But the actual music is much more challenging and I don’t have much time to spend practicing guitar or piano, much less try to create something new. I’m fortunate to have a job I’m passionate about – that involves lots of writing – but I still have a strong desire to write songs. So I try to fit it in between work and school schedules, meals and bedtimes, although I feel guilty about it. (What’s with motherhood and guilt?!)

Even now this very moment, at 1 a.m., I feel guilty because my 6-year-old just woke up and walked into the office and wants me to go into his room. Yes, I’m writing a blog post at 1 a.m. because that’s when I often end up having time for non-work writing and still (AT 1 A.M.!!!!) feel guilty about it because the little guy is asking when I’m going to be done.

So can a mom follow her passion without feeling guilty? Is it OK as long as you do it in moderation and attempt to balance it with your parenting duties and not simply forego your obligation altogether like Ricki Rendazzo?

I will have to ponder this another time because guilt won. The little guy just asked me again if I am done yet so I’m signing off now.

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