Jamila Rizvi and Clare Bowditch on the juggle, motherhood and ‘me time’

We loved catching up with bestselling author Jamila Rizvi and ARIA award-winning musician Clare Bowditch before they kick-off their Tea with Jam and Clare event series in Melbourne. Their honest account of what they love about working mamas, finding ‘me-time’ and how Jamila found the courage to face brain surgery earlier this year, is why we adore these inspiring ladies so much.

What has been the most surprising thing you’ve found about being a mum?
Jamila: Before you have kids everyone tells you two things: The overwhelming love and how hard it is. Nobody talks about the pure, unadulterated fun. We forget that bit. My husband and I laugh more than ever, now that we’re parents. It’s joyful.

Clare: How fiercely I love! How selfish I am! How much guts I have when I am acting on behalf of something bigger. How profoundly clarifying motherhood has been in terms of my list of “Things That Matter”. Basically – survival, love, service and art: most days that’s all that’s left on my list now that motherhood has had its way with me. And just the sheer volume of washing. That surprises me, every day, every load, and boy do I let them know!

The juggle is real. How do you handle the juggle of motherhood and work?
Jamila: It’s a cliché but it really does take a village. My husband and I are the core team, balancing the day-to-day toddler life but we also have our awesome child care centre, an army of babysitters and friends, plus family support when they’re in town.

Clare: My sister Lisa said to me today “Juggle? As if. Shit just DROPS.” In short, the way I handle the ‘juggle’ is to call my sisters and get a reality check, because despite a truck-load of attempted planning, every day is a game of Tetris. We just live it one day at a time because it’s just not possible to approach it any other way. In practical terms, Marty and I have lots of help from friends and family, and I offer the same to them. We do our best to do a ‘good enough’ job and that’s as high as I aim most days.

What do you most love about being a working mum?
Jamila: The variety. I genuinely find joy in both roles. While balancing them together can be pretty complex and at times maddening, there’s reason to do it: I’d never give up either role. I want to be doing both.

Clare: Look, thank goodness I have a job or two because otherwise, frankly, I’d drive my family and myself mad. I need a creative work-ish thing to do at all times, which is something I’ve worked on over the years but don’t seem to have a cure for. One thing I truly love is that I get to be a working mum at this particular moment in history. My gratitude for the many who came before us and fought for the right for families like ours to have choices in how we raise our children is something I think of every day.

Every mother wants more ‘me’ time. How do you find it and what’s your favourite thing to do for yourself?
Jamila: My husband I are a team and we work hard to make sure our parenting responsibilities are as balanced as possible. I am interstate for work a lot so often end up finding quality ‘me-time’ when I am on the road and catching up with friends between paid commitments. For my husband, it’s weekly sport and yoga that keeps him sane.

Clare: Nothing too exciting! Make a strong cup of tea. Strum on a guitar. Walk around a park with, say, a friend like Jamila Rizvi (or other riveting company). Write in my lovely, crisp diary with a black ink pen. Watch RuPaul’s Drag Race. Simple stuff like that.

The theme of the event is creativity and courage. What’s the most courageous thing you have ever done?
Jamila: I had brain surgery at the end of January and it was the most terrifying thing I have ever done. I doubted whether I would be able to go through with it right up until the last minute and am in awe of people who have to undergo multiple complex surgeries in their lives.

Clare: I think that getting out of bed every morning is an act of courage. No really. Sometimes that’s harder to do than performing in front of 10,000 people. Ask me again tomorrow and I’ll give you a different answer but today, it was getting out of bed.

What is one dream you have that you are yet to accomplish?
Jamila: I would love to have another child, something that has been made suddenly more complex by my new medical reality. I’m pretty determined to do everything I can make it happen though.

Clare: I have many. Many, many, many. When I was five, for example, I dreamt that I was a super hero who saved the world from her hot air balloon wearing a blue tute. So… that, I guess? Also, being on stage drinking tea with Jamila and our guest Zoë Foster Blake with a room full of amazing humans there to egg us on: that’s a dream I’m looking forward to pulling off too.

Jamila Rizvi and Clare Bowditch have launched a new event series: Tea with Jam and Clare. The first event with special guest Zoë Foster Blake, will be held on Tuesday 20 March at the Melbourne Town Hall. Photo: Anna Robinson.

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