Lisa MathewsProfession: Lisa Mathews writes, records, and performs music for children, most of which is directly inspired by her daughter, Jesse.
Web Site(s): Milkshake Music, Milkshake on Faceboook
Marital Status: Married
Spouse's Name: Miles Anderson
Residence: Baltimore, MD
Jesse, age 8
Q: Why did you decide to become a mom later in life? What factors precipitated this decision (or dictated it)?
A: Well, it wasn't a conscious decision, really. One day, I woke up, found I was 39 and thought to myself I had better address the issue of family and whether we wanted a child. My age prompted the question.
Unlike some, I felt that my life would be happy with or without a child. My husband and I felt no extreme desperation. We didn't feel our lives would be any less fulfilled if we didn't have a "family." But we also thought how wonderful it would be to share a life. We decided that if we had a child, great. And if not, that would be fine, too. Now I can't imagine my life without my little girl. She has influenced me and all I do in so many positive ways.Q: What do you love about your career? What is most challenging about your work? How long are you doing it? What did you do previously? Where do you see yourself heading?
A: [I love] everything. I have a career directly connected to my daughter and being a mom. I'm an official "Parent who rocks!" My work allows me to introduce Jesse to new places and exciting experiences. She's well-acquainted with green rooms, backstages, recording studios, TV cameras, iPods, traveling, and music in general. I'm a firm believer in travel-as-education, and Milkshake affords me opportunities to take Jesse to some very wonderful places. So, I love the travel. I love creating new songs that reflect the state of being a child. I love performing and seeing kids happy and dancing and just being the free spirits too many adults have forgotten how to be. Milkshake is all about joy, self-esteem and positive action, and I find myself absolutely elated every time I perform.
Juggling many different balls [is most challenging]. Milkshake is a busy band. Besides touring, we're always creating something new. And because it's no longer just me and Mikel, but a 6-piece band, everyone has different schedules to coordinate and different egos to manage. It's challenging but worth it. I love my band and find purpose in what we do.
Milkshake has been in existence since 2002. Mikel Gehl and I started it shortly after I had Jesse, and he and his wife had a son, Eric. The whole enterprise can be directly linked to our children. We wouldn't be doing it if they didn't exist.[Before Milkshake,] I sang in a rock band for adults called Love Riot, and worked doing voice-overs.
Milkshake is working on a few new projects for 2009 that I'm very excited about. One of these projects is our fourth CD release, tentatively titled "The Bridge." Keeping true to our plan of reflecting the growth in our children, some of the songs are more social in topic. It's so gratifying to draw inspiration from our children--it's seemingly endless. But I think this record may also reflect the growth in the band. We've been together for a few years, now, and know each other well. We're feeling pretty confident that we can create some incredible music together.Q: What have you experienced through motherhood that has also helped you in your work or personal life?
A: The slow but sure ability to be patient. I'm not normally a patient person. But I think having Jesse made me become a bit more so, simply because if a mother isn't patient, she'd lose her mind. And it's not just waiting for that little person to find his/her shoes and get the coat on. Trying to communicate with a young person isn't always the easiest thing. Quiet patience is often the best and only successful road.
This of course, carries over to Milkshake. Some days I want to scream. Sometimes things just don't go the way I'd like, or happen as fast as I feel time passing. That's where being patient helps my sanity. Taking that deep breath and counting to 10. Okay... maybe 20.Q: What is a typical day for you like, managing both work and home life? Do you work from home? If so, how do you find that? Have you worked more or less since you became a mom? Do you travel a lot, and do you take your family? What do your children think of your work?
A: Up early, get Jesse ready (make breakfast, pack lunch), get her to school. Kiss my husband as he heads for work. Walk the dog (he won't let me work in peace unless I do!!). Get to work. This means a day in my office, or performing with Mikel at a school or library, meetings, or working on songs until 2:30 when I pick up my daughter from school. Then it's some dedicated juggling between what Jesse wants/needs and whatever I might need to finish that day, including putting something more than just frozen pizza on the dinner table.
Yes, I work from home. I love being able to go barefoot when I want to. But then I'm pulled into the office after Jesse's asleep and my husband's watching TV on the couch. Milkshake is like an addiction. I'm obsessed with keeping the band successful and working.
At first, I took time to just be a mom. Milkshake didn't really get busy until Jesse was three or four. And then she was able to be with me in the studio, and at concerts more often than not. I have been truly blessed by creating a job that involved her easily.
I take Jesse with me as often as possible, when I know the travel part won't be grueling and someone will be there with her while I'm on stage. As I said before, I think travel is incredibly educational, and she loves it.
Let's ask Jesse what she thinks about Lisa's work:
(She also likes to re-write my songs, and work on new ones with me. I love when I hear Jesse singing a new Milkshake song in the shower, or just playing by herself in her room. I hear that, and I know the song's a keeper.)Q: How do you think being a later in life mom has affected your experiences as a parent (share both good and not so good)? Has anything about being a mom surprised you? What did you or do you most try to teach your children?
A: I think because I've had time to experience many different things without having the responsibility of taking care of a child, I don't feel the regrets of missing out on certain things I would have, had I had a child at 25. Maybe I'm able to put my self on the shelf when necessary because of this. I think I also bring a little more knowledge and wisdom to the mix-to what I have to offer in my daughter's upbringing.
I am surprised at how much fun it is rediscovering all the things I loved as a child. Jesse is really into the old tv shows I watched, like Lost In Space and The Addams Family. She loves the old musicals I loved. And I will never forget sharing the first ice cream cone. The first sleigh ride down a steep hill. The first ride on a carousel. The firsts remain huge to this very day. I love the job as mother, too. Perhaps it is just such a part of me. It's very gratifying taking care of my daughter. It's not always easy, but it always seems worthwhile, even when getting to "worthwhile" is at times frustrating.
What I teach my children:
Initially, my husband, my moms, and good parenting books. As Jesse got older and more social, the network of other friends/moms kicked in. It was and continues to be an important support system. I've rediscovered many old friends on Facebook. It's a wonderful outlet for communing with friends and keeping--excuse the pun--connected. Milkshake has a new page which I love to check in with weekly: www.tinyurl.com/milkshakemusic. And then I have my personal one for my community outside of work.
Yes, other musician friends, and the team I have behind Milkshake, all of which I consider friends.
Strangely enough, I haven't found a lot of other moms to connect with in my field. I know they're there but it hasn't happened. The last mom rocker I connected with was Laurie Berkner while we were on the Jamarama tour.
I guess I might be a role model for those thinking they can't rock because they're past 30. That's not true. If one thing being a mother later in life has taught me is that you're only as old as you feel and you shouldn't just sit there. Have some fun. Be an inspiration to your child by being immersed in something worthwhile. I love when my daughter says "Mom...you're cool." She might not always think that, but right now, I wear the button.Q: What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a mom later in life?
A: Be sure you are not having a child later in life because you think it will justify your life in some way, or that you need a baby to feel complete. Have a child because you want the great adventure and have life experience you want to share. But be willing to accept the great responsibility and time commitment and energy raising a human being requires. Take care of your body--it's got to last at least 20 more years from the birth day!
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