Monthly Archives: August 2010
This week’s interview comes from a series of conversations I conducted a few years back from a project about Mums rocking the world with kidlets, a book I very much hope will see the light of day when the time is right. But for now, I’m stoked to be sharing these nuggets of yumminess here at Club Comic Mummy.
I just love this one – namely because it shows that grand creativity doesn’t necessarily need to be career related, but indeed, can infuse itself into the very way we choose to live.
I also dig it as I myself have long held a vision (I’d say “fantasy”, except that implies that it’s not attainable, which, after meeting the wonderful Jocelyn Geraghty, shows that this is completely not the case!) of buying a lovely big chunk of land and setting up a community of like-minded families and artists.
Anyway, without further ado, let the interview spew forth!
With six children across three decades (“I felt like I was having children for thirty years!”) Jocelyn Geraghty found that having weekly time to herself, pursuing her own life and creating a strong support network was absolutely vital to maintaining her own identity. She has since taken this a step further and established the ultimate support network – a communal family property where she now lives with several of her children and grandchildren.
Time out from kids
As my family grew, I made a very conscious effot to pursue my own life. I was very interested in art and painting, so when I had four or five children, I went out painting three times a week. That is something I would stress for everyone. A child who has an unhappy, unfulfilled mother isn’t going to have such a great chance. I know it’s often hard, especially for single mothers, but I do think you need to do whatever it takes. I remember at first there were times that I’d think “Oh my God! If something happened to me, this baby is going to die!” But I suppose that as my family grew, those feelings dissipated. I no longer think that you need to have that full-on, single-minded dedication to your child: you do need to look after yourself. Having that time painting made me a more happy and fulfilled person, which was the only way I could be of any use to my children.
I was very lucky because we could afford to have the children looked after, or sometimes I’d take the youngest one with me when the others were at school. Still, I feel it can be done without a lot of money. I always believed in staying with the children in the home, but I wouldn’t discourage anybody from having a regular day to put your child in childcare and have the day off to do what you like. I think it makes for a healthier, happier mother and a happier child. If the child is in a day-care where they’re all paid to be happy and they’re not allowed to get cranky with the child, I think that’s better for them than to be at home with a mother who’s cranky and depressed. If there was no money for that, I’d search around for grandparents, or if there’s none around I’d find a surrogate grandparent. I bet there’s a pool of middle-aged women out there who’d be more than happy to look after a baby for a little while if they don’t have any grandchildren of their own.
Community and children
There’s a saying that “it takes a community to raise a child” and I think that’s a really good thing to keep in mind: to try to be part of a community and put a bit of the responsibility of your child onto the community that you’re in. Years after I’d first had the idea of creating a community, it all suddenly fell into place. I had this notion that even if the kids didn’t live there all the time, they’d have some place to come back to, no matter what. There have been times when most of them have been living there. It’s lovely to have the kids so close, but it’s all bush between the houses so it’s still quite private. I imagine you could also do it in suburbia if you had adjoining properties with shared backyard space or if you lived close enough that the kids could just walk across the street to the grandparents.
I think having the support of a community is the only way for children and I hope it would be an outlet for the parents too. I can just imagine things getting very tense with two parents (or one parent) and several kids in the one hothouse. But if there’s some place else for the kids to go, to get out of the parents’ way but more importantly, safely out of the way – like down to Nana’s place – then it can relieve a lot of tension. My children don’t have to get babysitters in because at least one member of the family is always there. I imagine the friends of my children who do have to pay babysitters are rather jealous. I know my friends who don’t get to see their grandchildren often are pretty envious!
The community also forms a place where as a family you work together to cope with difficulties. There are more people to deal with problems and support each other, which makes life easier. One of my grandsons doesn’t have a father around, so my eldest sons have taken him under their wing, while the other girls mother him as well. I also think it’s good for kids to be exposed to a range of age-groups, skills, personalities and parenting styles.
There are a lot of difficulties associated with communities, mainly personality differences. It’s almost impossible to get a group of people who have exactly the same ideas about everything! You just have to roll with that and accept that there will be different opinions. We deliberately didn’t set up many ground-rules, except for what had already been family rules, like treating each other with respect, and whoever’s looking after the kids at the time is the boss! We do have a circle with the usual group rules that everyone can be heard, to talk about things that are major issues. So a few things get solved that way, but it’s not something we do very often. Despite the challenges of community living, I do think the advantages are worth trying to overcome the difficulties.
Know somebody you’d like to see interviewed here? Perhaps it’s even you! If so, please get in touch!
I love audience participation.
Partly because it lets me do what I really love doing most onstage – improvising – and partly because it means that at least one part of the show will be completely unique, never to be seen again by another audience in that same way. (Which really, again, comes back to what I love about improvising full-stop).
I’ve learned the hard way to only ever take willing volunteers. People who are roped into it by somebody else, or are pressured by me, either don’t want to say much, freeze up completely or just look uncomfortable (not something people want to see onstage, particularly when they are going to automatically empathise with the poor audience member up there!) No, no, much better to get someone who really wants to be there – chances are they’ll actually have a good time up there because they want to!
Which brings me to this weekend’s gig.
Closing the show, I launched into one of my favourite bits to perform – a song which requires the help of an audience member, and put the call out for a volunteer.
“YEP!” I heard from a dark corner in the back of the room.
“Well, don’t you sound keen!” I cried. “Come on up!”
It was then that my extremely eager sounding gentleman emerged from the shadows and onto the stage.
The moment he set foot up there I could see this was going to be a bit of an interesting one.
There he was: a twenty-something dude in a baseball cap with one unmistakeable feature: SWERVINGLY SWAGGERINGLY SLAUGHTERED.
Not just tipsy. Not just happy. More “I don’t know if I can stand up/talk English good/WHAAKERPLOSH” hammered.
“Oh boy,” I thought. “This is either going to be genius…or utter freaking disaster.”
Thankfully, it ended up being suitably amusing. Hehe. I’ll say no more, but will post video on here as soon as I get my damn camera cable sorted!
I found out later that apparently my new friend, (named Phil, and he’d certainly had his, boom boom ching!) wasn’t even watching the show that night, he just stumbled upstairs in the final ten minutes and happened to wander on in just as I was asking for a volunteer.
Dear young baseball capped and innebriated Phil, who works in the mines and “hates relationships” – for us, dear chap, the stars aligned.
Pity he won’t remember any of it.
A number of improvisers have asked me whether it is possible to change the night for the upcoming workshops from Wednesdays, given that Wednesday seems to be improv performance night for several different ensembles around Brisvegas at the mo.
Well…the answer is yes.
So: all details remain the same, only these will now happen on Monday nights from September 6.
As you were.
Thanks so much for the lovely comments of late, particularly those saying that I look just like my Mum. Seriously – I don’t think there’s a compliment that can surpass that.
I’ve been a busy little bee this week, flitting around on a range of the following:
- getting together a plan of attack for 2011, nothing complicated, just, you know…taking over several portions of the world;
- sourcing most excellent grant advice for the upcoming round of Creative Sparks grants from BCC;
- organising the peeps who are signing up for my upcoming improv workshop (I am SO FREAKING EXCITED! It’s almost full and the potential I’ve already seen from the crew onboard thus far is so huge and gorgeous and fuzzy, I really feel like something special is in the wind.);
- performing at Livewired Sunday night to a most rocking crowd indeed, then afterwards fighting the urge to force-feed wet meat pies to my poor dear hubby, who, despite his best intentions, wobbled and wibbled and basically turned the footage he shot of it into a stand-up comedy version of the Blair Witch Project;
- investigating the possibility of renting out a cute little office space somewhere in the West End facility. AGH! A real office! To deck out! To make me finally feel all professhhhionul.
- displaying stunning commitment to the art of neglecting housework.
What about you?
What’s cooking in your kitchen?!
So I haven’t even told you yet that I’m doing this 29-day giving challenge! It’s a pretty cool – and apparently rapidly growing – global project which involves committing to doing just one thing each day: giving.
I’ve been really inspired this year by the whole concept of the guerilla kindness movement, particularly by people like the kicking-serious-buttocks Patience of Kindness Girl, so felt it was high time that I jumped into action, even if it’s action of the baby steps variety.
Anyway, I’m on day 7 now and thought I’d share with you what I wrote over at the challenge to introduce myself.
Day One: A Semi-Altruistic Start
My home teacher in grade 11 was an incredible woman named Mrs Sulewski.
Every day, she would write a new word on the board (this was not what made her incredible, by the way), and one day, she wrote this: ALTRUISM.
She explained what it meant – giving without any thought of reward – upon which, I took great pride in finding every opportunity possible to do something thoughtful in the classroom and then announce with great triumph: “I WAS ALTRUISTIC!”
Upon which, Mrs Sulewski would slap her hand to her forehead.
By the end of year 11, said forehead was bruised.
So yesterday marked my first foray into this giving experiment, which comprised me giving my time. Specifically, three hours of time (five, if you include the commute) to teach improv to an actors’ coop in Brisbane.
I say this was semi-altruistic, namely because:
- I truly enjoy, actually LOVE teaching improv, so it really was giving to myself as well. Cheesy as that sounds (and how!) Pass the crackers.
- Of course it’s a good networking opportunity, especially given that I am about to start up my own improv ensemble in the coming weeks.
- Now that I’ve written about it publicly, I can all but see good old Mrs S slapping that hand. I just hope she has a freezer full of ice-packs.
My hubby once said something to me that at the time, completely gutted me.
“I think Jen,” he said, “that for you to actually make it, you have to first of all be completely okay with the idea of not making it*.”
I believe my reply – and I may be paraphrasing here – was: “WHAAAAAAAATTTTT?!”
*Note: whatever ‘making it’ even means, indeed, the topic of an entirely separate post.
But once the smoke had cleared and the entrails were cleaned off the floor, I realised that his saying that wasn’t at all a slight on his belief in me. Rather, it was a gentle nudge in the right direction.
I DID have to be okay with the idea of not making it. Or rather, I still DO! Really. Because:
a) If my entire sense of self-worth is measured purely by how my career is going, then I am inevitably gonna be in for a lot of pain. Maybe even when it’s going well.
b) In needing the success too much, I really do think that we as performers can unconsciously project that desperation/neediness onto the audience. This is not cool. Namely cos:
- they can smell it.
- it doesn’t smell good.
- any way you look at it, neediness is not attractive, onstage or off.
I guess what this all adds up to is the revelation that I really need to be happy with my life as it is. Right now. If this is as good as it gets, that really needs to be okay. I’m not there yet, but I am TRYING!!!
Which brings me to my mother.
She was a singer. A wonderful singer. Drop dead freaking gorgeous.
She won a quite prestigious song-writing competition when she was just around my age, the prize of which was a recording session in Sydney. She did all this while raising kids single-handedly. How amazing then, that things were beginning to happen for her career wise! It all looked up! Sydney!
She never made it.
At 33 years of age, my Mum suddenly died of an aneurysm.
She never “made it.”
Was she okay with that?
I have no idea, obviously. But I do suspect that had she known things would turn out that way, sure there’d be sadness attached to not seeing her wildest creative imaginings flourish.
I’m sure that drowning that out, however, would be the grief of not seeing her other wildest creative imaginings flourish – us, her kids.
So even now, some 26 years after her death, she inspires me. To go get em for sure, but to remember the little peeps are really what it’s all about. The rest is icing.
The irony of all this is my sneaking suspicion that it’ll only be once I’ve completely let go of the unhealthy attachment to my wildest dreams, that it will actually be a key ingredient to making me a better performer and thus bring me closer to them anyway. Here’s a-hopin!