An Australian comedian, a radio and television personality, podcaster, columnist, author, mother of twins and now a guest on our blog; we speak to Meshel Laurie about what it’s like to be a creative mother.
People often say that parenthood changed them. Do you feel that’s true for you?
Oh yes! It still tries to change me every day. I fight it to be honest, but it always wins. I still try to live and work like I always have, but I inevitably fail and have to lower my expectations of myself.
This is ridiculous, but I didn’t realise it would be so time and energy consuming. I’m a pretty relaxed person, I’m not pushing extra activities like piano lessons or anything like that, but I still feel like I’m run ragged. Just keeping them fed and clothed seems to be a full-time job, and I also have a full-time job and a couple of part-time jobs too!
I’m beginning to face the fact that it’s not all about me anymore, and some aspects of my life, that I really like and have worked hard for, will have to go. That’s my challenge at the moment.
What do you wish you’d known before you were pregnant?
How much parenting together changes a relationship. I wish we’d started relationship counselling when we started IVF.
What is the best parenting advice you’ve been given?
Give up on perfection. Someone told me when I was pregnant that I should be prepared to completely submit to the babies for the first 4-6 weeks of their lives and don’t try to pull everything back together too quickly. He told me to be prepared to live in track pants, lose track of days and occasionally go longer than 24 hours between showers. I absolutely did all of those things and felt better knowing it wasn’t just me.
Most of us will not be wearing white shorts to the races a month after we give birth and that is normal.
What’s the best creative advice you’ve been given?
Don’t compare yourself and your journey to others. Marc Marron told me once, “Their success is not a measure of your failure.”
In the creative world, success ebbs and flows, people and styles go in and out of fashion, and that’s why it’s so important to stay true to your own creative point of view. We must always try to be better than ourselves, to keep pushing deeper into our creative depths and keep challenging ourselves. If you merely chase the fashionable direction of the day, you’ll be left floundering when it goes out of fashion.
When fashions change, it really sorts out the true creatives from the fame-chasers.
What inspires your creativity?
I have a very strong desire to create. I don’t know where it comes from, but I know that I always have to be making something. These days it’s mostly writing, but there have been times when it’s been drawing and painting. My children inspire me in that I want them to grow up in a creative environment. Even if it’s just something that sits in the background of their lives, I’d like them to be open to seeing the world through a creative lens.
What do you have in place in your current life that allows you to be a mum and also be a creative?
It takes the whole village! My parents live 5 minutes away, as does my ex-husband and my sister. We also have a beautiful nanny/housekeeper who is the glue that keeps us all together.
I’m a very independent person, so accepting help has been very difficult for me and I still forget to a lot of the time. I’ll tie myself in knots before someone notices and comes in to help. Also my friend Donna always makes sure I know what’s going on at school. My kids would have had some embarrassing days without costumes and excursion money without Donna’s texts!
Is there anything you’d like to share with other mums who may be trying to combine their lives as creatives and caretakers?
I can’t say this enough, give up on perfection! Don’t let yourself believe anyone else has it all together and is better at life than you are. We’re all just out there hustling every day. At least as a creative, you have your work. It’s always brought me an enormous feeling of satisfaction, no matter what else is going on in my life. It never lets me down.
Words: Daisy Chein / Images: Meshel Laurie