"What does motherhood mean to me?" That's the question that Eliza, Uma Thurman's character in the new film Motherhood, opening October 16, 2009, must answer in order to win a magazine essay contest. Will she be able to make the deadline, even though she's got to plan her daughter's b-day, update her blog (the Björn Identity), and repair years' worth of marital strife? Thurman's portrayal of a frazzled mom is so realistic, you're bound to recognize yourself in it -- but in a funny way, we promise. Finally, someone gets it!
Parenting caught up with Thurman, 39, to talk about her own struggles as a mother, and how all us real-life Elizas can get a little perspective.
Parenting: Do you feel like you've found your voice as a mother?
Thurman: No, because it constantly changes. I'm obsessed with the idea of journeys, and that's what motherhood is. Your identity crisis begins during pregnancy, when you watch your body change and realize it doesn't belong just to you anymore. And then it continues on and changes as your children get older. You keep having to rediscover yourself and adapt as your babies become kids, then adolescents, then teens. I've been a parent for eleven years, and constantly reintroducing myself to my kids and to myself is painful -- and joyful.
Parenting: So what do you do to keep from being swallowed up in the role of mother?
Thurman: I do my best to try to stay on top of work, but I feel like I'm always falling behind. I was given an incredible script, but I didn't get to it, and I missed out on an amazing opportunity. It's difficult to fully pursue your career and be fully at home. You feel like you're losing in every department. And then there's the guilt of just going to a yoga class. I've been to, like, two in the past two years. But now that the kids are back in school, I'm hoping to do more yoga and I'm determined to get better at time management.
Parenting: In one scene in the movie, Eliza tells her husband that the small household chores that make up her days wear away at her passion and ability to think of bigger things, like politics, or to dream of a better life. Amen! It seems petty to complain about those little things, but they add up, don't you think?
Thurman: My kids are older now, but I had years of those mornings when you're just going mad, suffering the humiliation of having to walk in [to preschool or daycare] and being the late mom. There's a lot of pressure. Even if you have help, and I do, it's tough. I'm not a morning person, and my kids go to different schools, so as a single mother, it's been challenging.
Parenting: Any advice for moms entering our essay competition?
Thurman: I'm dyslexic and a terrible writer, so I'm probably not the best person to ask! But I would say the best advice is to be honest.