Meet Later Mom: Actress/Writer/Comedian Anne Marie Scheffler
I’m a professional actress/ comedian/ writer/ voice artist. I do live comedy, TV, film and voice work. I’m currently on tour with my shows Suddenly Mommy and Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody. I look forward to having a sitcom so I don’t have to travel so much. Visit www.annemariescheffler.com.
What was your road to parenthood like? It almost didn’t happen. I was already in my mid thirties. My siblings were all married, owned houses, and were starting to have their babies. I was resigned to being the black sheep of the family: the crazy actress auntie who would never settle down. Then I met a single dad, and I fell in love with his normalcy, his being a father, his lovely daughter, and I thought: great! I’ll get a bonus child and a husband who’s already been trained by someone else! We had two beautiful boys right away. Now we are divorced, but I am so grateful to be a mom. And my ex-husband is with the kids when I am on tour.
Is there one project in your career thus far that you are most proud of, and why? I’m so proud of Not Getting It, my one hour comedy special. I wrote and starred in it. I wrote and performed it at The Second City in Toronto where I was part of the cast there. The Comedy Network saw a video tape of it and gave me the TV special. I was just saying my truth in a funny way. And it spoke to a lot of women: how come I was “not getting” married, “not getting” laid, “not getting it”? How can you be at your sexual peak and also wanting to get married at the same time? I’m super proud of Suddenly Mommy too. It’s also about wanting two opposing things at the same time: wanting a family but still wanting your career.
How does being a mom influence your work? What do your children think of all that you do? If I weren’t a mom, I wouldn’t be so good at what I do. You can only talk about relationships and dating for so long. Having the insight of life as a mom touches a lot more people. Also there’s an unfairness in our society about how moms are expected to sacrifice their lives and their personal goals for the family. This needs to be overhauled. Why can’t I be successful, the one with the career and still be a good mom? So being a mom gives me a cause to rally for in my work. My kids are proud of me, in a low key way. When they were younger, I’ve had my sons say “You’re not Anne Marie Scheffler! You’re Mommy!” but the also said “You’re not Mommy! You’re Anne Marie Scheffler!” so I know they understand I am an actor with a public job. And they get benefits from it too which they like. They enjoy having the run of the back stage and playing on the theatre stage. Also they get to go to TV tapings and parties, and they get swag and candy sometimes. Plus they are often invited to be in things with me: Jakey filmed a commercial with me. He was happy when the cheque arrived.
You did a comedy show on motherhood. What was that about, and how do you feel it impacted other moms? Do you plan to take it on the road? When I was turning 40, I asked myself “what do I want to give myself as a present?” and I answered: “My career back!” My kids were very little and they were my whole entire life. Just before I got pregnant, I was being presented with a TV series developed around me and my comedy special Not Getting It. And I really ran away from success to have babies. I think I was not willing to risk not having children. I’m from a Polish Catholic family- and to not become a mother was inconceivable to me. So when I turned 40 it was like- “I can do this again! I have to!” And I did what I was born to do: shine the light on the human experience in all its folly- this time not about dating badly- but about losing yourself to motherhood. I know other moms are grateful for this show because they’ve told me: “you nailed it! I want my husband to see this so he understands!” Plus aren’t we all sexy fabulous women whose lives got hi-jacked? And no one really thinks you should complain because you are “just the mom” and not supposed to put yourself first. Put yourself first- that’s the message- then your kids will know their real mom, in her best life. I’ve taken the show on the road across Canada and now I’m being booked in the US. Tell your favorite theatre to bring me to your city! I also just played Caroline’s on Broadway, and it went so well, I will be going back! I have some bookings in California too. Please check my website for schedule or join my mailing list!
Do you think it’s tough for women to balance parenting, a personal life and professional pursuits? And, if so, how do you achieve balance? It’s super hard to balance parenting, a personal life, and professional pursuits. I achieve balance by getting to yoga as much as possible. When you have babies, you sometimes lose your body. Get your body back immediately. I swear by Bikram yoga. I make stronger, better, more aligned decisions when I go to yoga because I am coming from a place of strength. It’s hard to say what you need when you have little babies who want you and no one else- so you must be strong and ask for help, and put your needs first too. A nanny, a babysitter, a spouse can give you that. But you are the one who needs to ask. Also I highly recommend scheduling date nights with your partner. My ex-husband and I didn’t and we suffered for it. Plus we got a king sized bed. It undid us. We stopped being so close in bed, and then we stopped communicating. When you are having sex, you are communicating better. It’s kinda obvious. Don’t let the sex go. Also, professional pursuits are important. A mom should be allowed her career- it’s not the 1950’s. Make your career goals a priority. Make them known. They don’t have to happen right away, and there’s no need to be panicked about them. In fact I treasured being just a mommy for the first 5 years of my motherhood. But then when it’s time to work on your career goals, there should be total support. In my case, that showed up by my husband revealing that he was no longer supportive and wanted a divorce. So now I’m a single mom. But at least there isn’t a passive aggressive husband at home making me feel badly for my wanting my professional goals to happen. And they are happening!
What do you see as the positives and challenges of having children at age 35 or over? The positives of having children over 35 is that my career was established- and that’s something that cannot be taken away from me. Also I felt a certain sense of satisfaction. I had achieved some great things career wise, and to pause the career trajectory to have my babies was a welcome shift. Plus I had a support system from my professional guild and work colleagues who offered amazing support when the babies were young. It was nice.
The challenges are wanting to get back to the career when you are that much older. I remember being depressed about it- then Tina Fey showed up with 30 Rock and I said “a woman- a mom, no less- in her 40s? TV series she writes and stars in? It’s all still possible for me too!” I say the challenge is not to count yourself out. And also not to be told: “it should have happened by now.” That’s ridiculous. You stopped to have two babies; you are allowed to take that time, and if it didn’t happen yet, it’s because you stopped to have babies. I am now re-starting my career, in my mid forties, and I have no doubt that it will be fine. Men do it all the time. Had you heard of Stephen Colbert when he was in his 30s? No. He hit it big in his 40s. I plan to hit big when I am good and ready. Doesn’t matter how old I am.
Has anything about being a mother surprised you? If so, what? What do you love the most about it, and what is the most challenging? I’m surprised at how much it engulfed me. I had no idea I would disappear into the every moment of my baby and not even wanting to do anything but be with my children. I was so taken by every little laugh- how many baby pictures did I take! Wow! And then- I looked up- and five years had passed. And I was like “wait! What happened to my career?” And I was like “oh yeah. I fell into the baby hole and I can’t get out!” I cherish every moment with my children. Now as I return to my career, I must remember I gave them that, and that foundation will always be there. My challenge is to trust that I am doing the right thing by returning to my career: I could just give it up and take a job in the neighborhood, but then I will be bitter and unfulfilled and no one wants that for their mom! My success is their success. And they can’t see that necessarily, so I must help them understand that what I do is best for our family. I’m the parent. I make the decisions about what’s best.
What do you most want to teach your children? What have you learned from them thus far? I want my children to be themselves all the time. I suffered from trying to be something I was not and that only resulted in trouble. I am me: and when I am following my bliss, and working on the things that I am passionate about, it’s good for everyone. I want my children to have the same view on life: do what they really want to do and be who they really want to be. It’s the only way.
I have learned from my children that I am an adult! I know it sounds goofy, and I cherish my childlike job and girlish attitude and dare I say “coltishness”, but my children are not the boss of me, I am the boss of them. They have shown me how important it is for me to step up and own my place in this world. As a parent. I am a powerful person who provides food, shelter, structure, and most importantly unconditional love- where my children can be free to be themselves always always always. I did that. I should be proud. I am learning to own my power. I am finally no longer just the daughter or sister who can not find a good man, but I am an awesome more who is raising children, children who will make this world a better place!
Where do you turn for support as a mom? How important is to connect with mom peers? How do you think an organization like Motherhood Later…Than Sooner can be helpful to later moms and families? I definitely turn to other moms for support. My fellow moms in the neighborhood showed up and got me set up in my new home after my separation. My own mom talked to me on the phone endlessly, giving me the strength to leave my marriage. Not just now, but even when I first became a mom. It was a woman at the midwives collective who said “I wanted to hurt my baby so I just walked out the door and left.” I was like “what?” then I had my first baby, and I was in a state of practically losing it and I remembered her words. It made me feel so helped. I asked my spouse at the time to take over. It’s mom groups, mommy bloggers, funny truths from other frustrated moms that make you feel relief. It’s a big reason why I wrote Suddenly Mommy. Motherhood is a thankless job, and we need to rally around ourselves and laugh at everything we have to go through! Motherhood Later … Than Sooner is super important to those of us who need that piece of wisdom, or that one-liner to keep our spirits buoyed. It’s no easy feat being a mom, never mind when you are getting older. We’ve got each other’s backs!
What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a parent, particularly if they’re 35 or older? You must put yourself first. Get your body back as soon as possible. Ask for help with childcare. Don’t feel guilty taking care of yourself. Your baby will benefit if their mother is happy! And healthy! And mentally okay! So important. Nurture the mother, nurture the child.
When you became a mom, did your own mother or father share any particular sentiments or advice that really resonated? Or do you recall anything from your own upbringing that really stuck with you that you’d like to pass on to your son or other parents?
My mom would give me boundaries and that really helped me. As a little girl, I would rail against the unfairness of something- like me not getting my way! And my mom would in her no-nonsense, unconditional love way, tell me to stop it! It’s a no, and that’s final! And that actually taught me about life. About how to deal with no’s. Boundaries. Limits. My knee-jerk reaction as an over 40 mom is to give my sons everything all the time. But then they don’t understand boundaries. And if they never hear the word no at home, how are they going to deal with it out in the world? So I do have to think about how my mom would deal with things. It’s not my nature to say “no and that’s final!” but I now do it. Because I do love my sons. And I don’t want to raise bad boyfriends… but I digress.. you should really see my show…