What She Looks Like: Jessica Mann Gutteridge, Vancouver BC

I’ve appreciated my candid online chats with Jessica immensely. Thanks to Facebook and other social media platforms, I’ve had the advantage of hearing from moms cross-continent, including Jessica in Vancouver.

Her story excited me because she openly shared with me how she took a break for 20 years working as a lawyer. Her bravery and artistry to dive back in now is an exciting tale of going for it, and I love how she opened up to me from the get-go:

There are so many “mommy blogs” but I don’t know of many people writing about parenting and making art. I’ve just gone back to my theatre career after nearly 20 years as a lawyer. I made a big career change and we moved from New York to Vancouver. Now that my kids are all in school (my youngest is in kindergarten and my oldest is in high school with one also in grade 4) I have a certain amount of flexibility that’s different from when I had babies, but it’s still a crazy juggling act. And [I’m the] only person in my company who had kids, so lovely as they are about it, they don’t necessarily really get it.

Jessica Mann Gutteridge

This first message reminded me why it was so important to keep writing and keep building a community. As lovely as supportive artists or family members can be, only moms making art and doing it together can really get it. So here is Jessica’s profile and some of my favorite quotes from her below. She’s creating and involving her kids and others in her art and shines a bright light on trusting instincts.


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Jessica Mann Gutteridge: Education Manager at Carousel Theater for Young People; Lawyer; Mom.

Status: I have three sons, ages 14, nearly 10, and 5.

What surprised you: I was surprised when I turned out to be a relatively relaxed, intuitive parent. I grew up with a somewhat anxious parenting style, and I thought for sure I would be similar. I also spent nearly 20 years as a lawyer before I returned to my theatre career, and being in a risk-averse sort of profession, I assumed that would extend to my parenting too. But it turns out I found it a lot easier to learn to trust my instincts (and my husband’s) and go with the flow with the kids, and I think that’s been good for all of us.

What excited you: What hasn’t excited me? What’s really enjoyable about seeing my kids progress through childhood is that as they get older their observations and problems get more and more interesting.

What challenged you: Balancing work life and parenting life. Not just in the obvious way, in trying to fulfill commitments in both places with only 24 hours in the day, but also in terms of being able to switch gears from one mindset to another. It was hard not to carry my latest fight with an adversary home with me, or help my clients with a problem without sounding like I was their mother. I also always worried I wasn’t doing either role terribly well. Learning to accept that “good enough” is good enough is probably the best thing I’ve ever learned as a professional or as a parent.

What you look forward to: Having three independent, competent, happy young men go forth into life. And getting a little time back for myself as a result!

What you think people should know: Life is not Pinterest! You’re not in competition with anyone to make your life look a certain way. You have to raise your family and pursue your art and career with integrity, not in order to check off some boxes or get a great Instagram out of it. When you let go of that external pressure, it’s amazing how liberating it feels.

Your favorite mommy-artist story: I work with a theatre for young audiences, and my kids have become the company’s kids in certain ways. It was exceptionally wonderful to have my youngest fall madly in love with our recent production of Go, Dog. Go! He became sort of the company groupie — he saw it four times, memorized the show, and got to know all the performers. They autographed his copy of the book and we acquired one of the gorgeous props for him to keep. Basically, it was his version of Rocky Horror! It was just so gratifying for me to be able to share our work with my child like that, and to have my child become a friend of the company.


 

My favorite quotes:

“‘What excited you: What hasn’t excited me?”

– Jessica Mann Gutteridge, Education Manager

“Learning to accept that ‘good enough’ is good enough is probably the best thing I’ve ever learned as a professional or as a parent.”

– Jessica Mann Gutteridge, Education Manager

“Life is not Pinterest! You’re not in competition with anyone to make your life look a certain way.”

– Jessica Mann Gutteridge, Education Manager

“You have to raise your family and pursue your art and career with integrity, not in order to check off some boxes or get a great Instagram out of it. When you let go of that external pressure, it’s amazing how liberating it feels.”

– Jessica Mann Gutteridge, Education Manager

“It was just so gratifying for me to be able to share our work with my child like that, and to have my child become a friend of the company.”

– Jessica Mann Gutteridge, Education Manager


How inspiring to hear her timing, story, and intuitive approach. I love this girl. What are your biggest challenges and fears? And what are you waiting for? I hope we can all keep remembering to let go of that “external pressure” and keep letting life in. It’s the artist way anyway. How much better will our kids be for it, too?

More profiles coming soon!

If you are or you know a performing artist professional and mom who wants to share thoughts, answer these questions and shoot them to me at this contact form!

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