‘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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Distracted driving

One thing that inspires me the most about Rick Springfield is his drive to doing what he loves. He’s already an accomplished musician, songwriter, author and actor. Who knows what he’ll do next? He likely has more music, songs, books and acting gigs in his path and maybe he’ll even discover another passion, like some kind of charity work or ambassadorship. You never know, but he is so talented and driven that he has many options. When he was younger and going through difficult times, he may have never imagined the type of success that would someday become his but he kept persevering and that is so beautiful and inspiring.

Maybe this means I’m on the verge of a midlife crisis but I’ve been feeling very introspective lately, reflecting on where I am and how I got here. And trying to figure out what’s next.

On one hand, I have everything I ever wanted – a wonderful husband, amazing kids, good health and a job I enjoy. On the other hand, one thing that I never emphasized that much is the financial compensation that helps make life a little easier. In my equation of what makes a successful life, I idealistically thought that money wasn’t an important component of it. But now with three kids I’m kind of wishing that my passion would have focused in a different direction than print journalism. True, there wasn’t any clue that the Internet was coming and how that would impact my desired field but why didn’t I pay attention a little earlier?

A few weeks ago, I passed my exit on the freeway because I was deep in thought about something. The following day, I almost did it again. Then when I started thinking about why that was happening, it occurred to me that passing an exit is really a metaphor of life. If you are “driving” through life without paying attention to where you are going, you could end up lost.

And from those thoughts came this:

Distracted driving

I passed my exit
I drove too far
Caught daydreaming
Inside my car

Where are we going?
Are we lost?
Distracted driving
Paying the cost

I’m thinking about where we have been
And I’m wondering if we’ll get back there again

So many roads lead to so many places
How do you know which one to choose?
All of the signs point in different directions
With some you win and some you lose
When the gauge is pointing to empty
It can really overshadow your day
But you just have to find the fuel
So you can continue on your way

I’m thinking about where we have been
And I’m wondering if we’ll find our way again

Around, round, round, round, round
The scenery looks the same
Driving down, down, down the road
Where nobody knows your name

I’m thinking about where we have been
And I’m wondering if we’ll get back home again.

Update: I eventually ended up recording this one. Here it is: