Photo by Chris Keels
This is my friend Candis. Candis is the founder, owner, and creator of The Jones Market. She is also one of the warmest and kindest people I’ve ever known.
Q: What advice would you give to a young woman who wants to pursue both a fulfilling creative career and motherhood?
A: I would ask them to define what fulfilling means to them. I would tell them that there is nothing on this earth worth having that doesn’t come with sacrifice. Decide what fulfilling is and then decide what things you are willing to sacrifice to get there. If you know what those things are you will see your goals, you will be able to reassure yourself why you are giving up things. I was willing to sacrifice sleep, personal time, home cooked meals, a clean house and time with friends to pursue my creative career alongside motherhood. I was not willing to sacrifice being home with them in their formative years until their Dad could quit his job and be home with them. So I worked late late nights and weekends and every time my body felt frail and sick from the lack of sleep and self care, every time I felt like giving up I reminded myself of what fulfilling means to me and what I was willing to sacrifice. And I carried on.
This is my friend Carrie. Carrie is a writer, director, and student at Studio 4 in NYC. Currently she is writing a film with James Franco. She is also one of my best friends. When I’m with her, I feel known and understood. I also probably feel a little sick, because she is constantly forcing me to do things I never would have done otherwise.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is trying to be a full time mother while also pursuing a career in the arts?
A: You can do it! You don’t have time or energy to do the things you think you should anymore – so just do what brings you life, what burns in your gut, no matter what others think. And prioritize. Cut out anything and everything that you don’t need or really really want. Your family, your passion, your spiritual life – those come first – those are what you and the rest of the world need you to focus on. We don’t need more people out there just floating along trying to look like they have it together, we need people with drive, with hope, and honest pursuit. We need people who are a total hot mess of life. We need people to wake us up, stir us, show us a broken stereotype that we are also capable of. I have so many people shocked that I’m both a mother of a toddler (and pregnant) and pursuing my crazy dreams. Many people love it, others don’t get it. Stand up for yourself. You have a backbone! You know what you want, who you are, who you love, what’s important – so just go for it. I’m not saying risk everything all the time – but know when risk is okay and take it. Even if other people don’t understand why- they don’t need to! Also: help other women. Do kid swaps or give script feedback, tell everyone about their art show or text them with encouragement. And stay determined. Rest when you need to but don’t you dare let go when you find something that sets you on fire. We all need to see it!
This is Bethany. Bethany is one of those people who does a little bit of everything with great joy. The first time I met her I thought: please calm down. Now she’s one of my closest friends. Our shared interests include not making dinner and ordering complicated appetizers.
Q: What is something you’d tell someone who just left their career to stay home with their children?
A: Our society places value on the work that we do; all of our different jobs have literal and cultural capital. Being a stay home mom doesn’t rank high on either front. Let’s face it, there’s very little that’s sexy about staying home to care for kids. When I made the choice to leave my full time teaching career to stay home, I was pretty worried about how others would perceive me. For example: What will I contribute to dinner party conversations? Will I become…boring?
Listen, your work isn’t what makes you an interesting or engaging person. I had to stop telling myself my life had become boring. It hadn’t. Every day I have an opportunity to pay attention to the world and to my kids. Engage in it all. Be curious. Listen to podcasts. Pick up side hustles (I’ve done everything from cleaning houses to working in food trucks to teaching evening classes) and begin to see them as ways to learn about people and other types of work.
Staying home with my children has been hard and trying yet ultimately meaningful. It is a privilege to have the choice to do so and I’m learning to see this all as an opportunity to love and to learn.