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When Motherhood and Creative Ambition Collide

The other night on Facebook, I came across a link to an article about a documentary on motherhood. And I was intrigued. It often feels as if motherhood has been explored from every possible angle. One could say it has been overanalyzed.

But this film’s approach felt truly original. Filmed over seven years, "Lost in Living" spotlights a distinct group of women. Through the documentary, filmmaker Mary Trunk shows how being a mom can affect one's art and approach to creativity. The link that connects the women in the film is their art. Their creative force leads them each on very different paths as it intersects with motherhood. And interestingly, they all express some form of regret.

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After leaving my career to stay home with my daughter, I came to realize I’d given up too much of myself. I loved her, and was incredibly grateful to be able to be with her. But there was a deep longing inside me, causing me to feel restless.

I realized in order to be the best me, to be whole, I had to create. Giving myself permission to do so brought the part of me I’d lost back to life. But cultivating creativity while being the mother I want to be results in a constant feeling I am lacking in some way.

This is in essence what "Lost In Living" explores. Watching it was an intense and emotional experience for me. I had not seen anything that looks at motherhood from this particular point of view before—one that very much mirrors my own.

Many of the issues were universal ... But there were also particular nuances explored that speak to those who hear the call to create.

There were some heartbreaking, raw scenes in this movie. All four of the women featured not only open up their lives but they moreover bare their souls. They hold absolutely nothing back. The results are sometimes awkward, even painful.

The juxtaposition of two women with young children and two whose children are grown was particularly fascinating to me. It became clear one generation had a far more positive, joyful view overall of motherhood.

It was particularly sad to watch the longtime friendship of two of the film’s subjects struggle after they became mothers. Initially, they found it difficult to find the time to get together. Then, as their parenting styles and experiences began to diverge more and more, they avoided one another. Each assumed the other was judging her for her parenting.

Since I write about my own family, I watched with great interest as one subject of the film talked about how her writing impacted her relationship with her children. While I am not familiar with her work or the stories she has shared, she admitted there was resentment on their part as a result of some of her work.

I took that very much to heart.

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There was so much about "Lost in Living" that resonated with me. Many of the issues were universal, any mother could relate to the challenges and satisfaction the four women discuss. But there were also particular nuances explored that speak to those who hear the call to create.

A free online screening opportunity for the documentary is available through December 25. I enjoyed the chance to rethink many of the issues the film examines, especially as I think about what I want for my life—and my family’s—in the New Year.

Image via Lost in Living Facebook

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