Well, I didn’t ask them mothering advice exactly the way you might think.
These are not, after all, living Hollywood Mothers.
They are legendary Hollywood mothers who are no longer alive.
I took time beside them at monuments in their honor: Donna Reed, the first mother, at her graveside in Westwood and then Joan Crawford, at her Hollywood Walk of Fame star.
Donna Reed’s show was one of my childhood favorites. It was in reruns by the time I watched it. I loved her swishy dresses and pretty face. She reminded me slightly of my own mother, except for the wardrobe. I got older and fell in love with Mary on “It’s a Wonderful Life” via its annual showings during the holiday season.
She seems like someone everywoman would want to chat with about motherhood, about being a woman, and then after the layers of fiction were released, I would want to know about what compelled her as an artist. I might even ask her now, post life, about what she misses about being alive.
Perhaps this is something that compels me as a writer: wanting to know about death and after death. Wanting to know at the end of one’s life as an artist what sifts out as significant. What seemingly small work became what one remembers the most and what “big” project turned meaningless and why – how- where – what was up with that as it happened?
Now Joan Crawford is a completely different mothering story. I wouldn’t even think of asking her mothering advice but something in my gut brought those words to my lips as I cuddled up next to her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last Sunday night.
Yes, as odd as it sounds, I rested on the sidewalk with her star in order to get a compelling photo. I will do almost anything creatively for art or a laugh or both. It was sincered when I heard myself whisper to Joan, “Do you have any motherly advice for me?”
She has become a mothering joke from the “Mommy, Dearest” book and film. “Wire hangers” are legendary because of her disgust for them as they played host to expensive clothing she didn’t feel her daughter, Christina, valued as she should with a more voluptuous, fabric covered hanger.
I wonder how her thoughts would change if she could speak after death. While she was living she said, "Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your hearth or burn down your house, you can never tell."
What would happen once her anger and fear went away?
I poked around online, newly fascinated by these two iconic women. I discovered Donna Reed, who was a mother to four children and a “second mother “ to co-star Shelley Fabares, was also a co-founder of the Peace Activist Organization, “Another Mother for Peace”. Within the group’s beliefs is “No mother is enemy to another mother.”
What would Joan’s life as a mother been like if another mother – another woman – had reached out to her with that sort of compassionate, loving energy of “no enemies here, simply mothers caring about other mothers”?
What would happen once her anger went away?
What got in the way of her freedom from anger?
What can we, as mothers and as women, learn from how she held more tightly to anger and rage than to the love she must have felt underneath all that excess emotional warfare she fought every day.
You may be reading this thinking, “How do these two Hollywood Mothers have any relevance in my life today, anyway?”
Do you know anyone whose anger and fear tear awayen any love in a poisonous fire of contempt that kills any hope of joy they may have within them?
Perhaps this essay was written especially for you so that you may ask the questions to your friend or family member that I posed to non-living beings:
What would happen if your anger went away?
What would happen if you let go of anger and replaced it with something less destructive?
What is getting in the way of your freedom from anger?
Donna Reed might tell Joan Crawford, “When you handle yourself, use your head; when you handle others, use your heart."
When you handle your children, use your head, your heart and your arms for hugging.
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© 2012 by Julie Jordan Scott
Julie Jordan Scott has been a Life & Creativity Coach, Writer, Facilitator and Teleclass Leader since 1999. She is also an award winning Actor, Director, Artist and Mother Extraordinaire. She was twice the StoryTelling Slam champion in Bakersfield. She leads Writing Camp with JJS & this Summer will be traveling throughout the US to bring this unique, fun filled creative experience to the people wherever she finds the passion & the interest.
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