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  • Melody Cooper

Mommie Dearest

Wednesday, December 5th, 3:20 am



I haven't posted much since my writer's residency in France. Spending March in the south of France writing for a month in a castle by the sea -- it seems like dream when I write that -- was a very special time, and I miss it deeply. It was, above all, time for myself and time to write. Which is what I have now, at 3:20 am, writing in bed, reading about my fellow writers and filmmakers successes and struggles, unable to settle on what project I should work on next: the notes to the co-directors of a new project, the second act of my play that's being workshopped, the revision of my award-winning feature script, the short script that I want to direct, the adaptation of a story I'm trying to buy the rights to, catching up on a show I want to watch...It's overwhelming and frustrating. What do I do with my time? How do I chose? What do I have a passion for right now? What NEEDS to get done?


It's a dilemma for any artist, but for those of us who are also parents, there's a special, ridiculous urgency to it. The time doesn't last. It gets eaten up fast. So you have to make the most of it. Parents tend to efficiently make the most of our time for that reason. But sometimes, the muse just stares at you blankly. Me? Now? Hell no. Not playing. It's not the usual writer's block. Instead of drawing a blank, it's the opposite. You're overwhelmed. So much to do, so many ideas, so little time. I usually love the challenge of constraints, the ticking clock, the Multi-Task juggle. But honestly, sometimes every artist needs space, time, quiet, no pressure...especially to create something new. Add to that the tension of what I call The Good Waiting. Waiting for the answer, for notification, for the hoped for Yes, the green light, next steps, the selection.


Parenthood impacts an artist's life in unique ways, but being both a parent and an artist is nothing new. It's a remarkable gift and curse at the same time. It's challenging, at times stifling, annoying, hampering. And this is especially the case for women who are often accused of abandoning their children for their art. Whether you become a mother before the upswing in your career, during, or after you're well established, there is a cost. But there is also a reward. It grounds you, energizes and inspires you, fosters great skills, makes you a better writer and filmmaker, opens up worlds and perspectives, gives you joy. And as our own parents begin to give in to illness or age, the parenthood tightrope we walk gets tauter, narrower. My mom passed on from an illness just before I shot my first film two years ago. The smile on her face as I showed her my production binder a few weeks before she died almost made up for it. Almost. Like me, she'd ended up a single mom too.


So as I tried to push through and not panic that I'm not doing all that I can when I can, I started thinking of moms in films, in particular the ones that feature the challenge of being a single mother. The following list was sparked by watching Andrea Arnold's brilliant short film WASP tonight. The film also sparked the feeling that shit, I want to spend every waking hour creating! I have so many ideas and projects waiting to be developed. I'm wasting time!


The Single Mom list, not exhaustive. I know there are other obvious ones. These are the ones that made a real impression, for different reasons. In no particular order:


WASP

ROMA

CHILDREN OF MEN

THE BABADOOK

THE FLORIDA PROJECT

ROOM

FISH TANK

TUMBLEWEEDS

THE OTHERS

MOONLIGHT

MILDRED PIERCE

CLAUDINE

BOYZ IN THE HOOD

TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY

CARRIE

THE IRON GIANT

THE SIXTH SENSE

LITTLE MAN TATE

ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE

WHERE THE HEART IS

MERMAIDS

BOYHOOD

THE EXORCIST

FROZEN RIVER

ONE FINE DAY

WINTER'S BONE

MAID IN MANHATTAN

JOY

WAITRESS

THE PANIC ROOM

LABOR DAY

CHOCOLAT

E.T.

THIS IS MY LIFE








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