August 2013 Profile: Nina Davenport
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Single
RESIDENCE: Brooklyn, NY
CHILD’S NAME/AGE: Jasper, 4
I’m a documentary filmmaker. My most recent film, FIRST COMES LOVE, premiered on HBO July 29th: www.firstcomeslovemovie.com
What does your child think of your work? What led you to make your film, and what is the message you want viewers to take away from it? Jasper has been filmed a lot since the moment he was born, so he’s very comfortable in front of a camera. He’s naturally a very performative child, so I think he enjoys it! I made FIRST COMES LOVE because I felt that I was ideally situated to tell this story (of becoming a single, 40–something mom), since I’d made autobiographical films before. (In 2000, I made a film called ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID about my lovelife, which HBO is re-airing now). So many women of my generation struggle with the issue of their biological clocks that I thought it was a very important story, and one that would be best told from a personal point of view. I hope it empowers women to see an example of a someone having a baby on her own and being happy she did.
FIRST COMES LOVE is very raw with emotion and candor, humor and heart….and you tell/show all/much. How do you think Jasper will feel about it when he’d old enough to view it and fully understand? How has your family reacted to the making of the film and your choice to pursue motherhood on your own? I think it will be amazing for Jasper to see himself being born–how incredible! And to know everything that motivated his mother to have him. I would give anything to see the equivalent film about the first two years of my life–I would love to get to know more about what my own mother was like when she had me. Everyone in my family has come around to the idea that my having a baby on my own was a great idea! (It probably helps that Jasper is so cute.)
Your road to motherhood was IVF (you had success the first time), with sperm donation from a close male friend. Was this a difficult choice? If the IVF didn’t work what would you have done? I chose IVF because two doctors recommended it, just based on my age (41). I also was very panicked at that point about missing the chance to get pregnant, so it wasn’t hard to convince me to bust out the Weapons of Mass Creation. If IVF hadn’t worked, I imagine I would’ve kept trying because I tend to be rather tenacious. I also love the idea of adopting; but I did really want to be pregnant, and I also liked the idea that there was a deadline (at least in my own mind) because I was so sick of wanting a baby and worrying about it. I feared that if I went down the road of adoption, I’d spend another five years in a state of limbo, and I really needed to move forward with my life at that point.
What do you love the most about it? What is the toughest? I love being able to give unconditional love. I love how hilarious kids are–and I got especially lucky in that department because Jasper is a born comedian. Mostly, I love being able to relive the wonderful relationship I had with my own mother (now deceased) from the other side–from her perspective. The thing that continues to astound me is the energy level of children–if we could find a way to harness it, we could probably solve global warming!
What do you most want to teach your son? What have you learned from him thus far? I want to teach Jasper to be a kind person who cares deeply about other people and about the fate of the world. I have learned from him to love more deeply than I ever have before.
What influence, if any, has your own mother or father had in your life and in your parenting? My Mom and I were extremely close –I even wrote my college essay about her (and it got me into Harvard!)! My love for my Mom is a big part of FIRST COMES LOVE. She died before I had a baby, and I find that I appreciate her as a mother more and more, as I grow into motherhood myself.
Where do you turn for support as a single mom? I’m very lucky that I have a few single female friends who treat Jasper like their own kid–especially Amy, who is my birth partner in FIRST COMES LOVE. My relationship with Amy is the closest thing I’ve experienced to being married, despite the fact that it’s purely platonic. We fight about all the same things married couples do, and we’re equally devoted! I had a kid later in life–what I viewed as the last possible second–and now my single female friends are realizing they probably won’t have kids at all. I think they are embracing Jasper even more as a result. Jasper is the luckiest kid on Earth–he has at least three moms!
Are you able to make time for your love life, and how do you find dating now that you’re a mom? I do still date, although it can be hard to motivate to do so, since I always hate to give up time with Jasper. It’s important to keep living your life, in all aspects, even after becoming a parent–it’s not so much about finding a mate as it is about continuing to live a full life (although I’d like to find one!).
What words of wisdom wouldyou most like to share with others contemplating becoming a parent, particularly if they’re 35 or older? Disregard the peanut gallery that is always ready and willing to criticize women for their choices. Follow your heart!
Do you recall anything from your own upbringing that really stuck with you that you’d like to pass on to your child or other parents? My Mom really emphasized kindness, generosity, and good manners. I feel there is a sad lack of those qualities in our generation, and I am glad she prioritized that as much as she did. It’s just not enough to care about your own family — we should care about the world around us as well. I wish that parents emphasized that more with their children — it would make the world a better place.