Lisa Ridd | Another Mother Her Way
Spend an hour with Lisa Ridd and it will never feel enough. She is among the easiest and best to chat with especially on the topic of career and motherhood and all the fuzzy, real things in between. After a career at Lehman Brothers in New York and falling in love with her now husband and moving to the UK, Lisa felt stuck in finance and turned to filmmaking, starting at a small production shop. Then, having her first son, Jude, she was a stay at home mother and felt all those previously mentioned fuzzy, real emotions. She started tinkering with her family photos and videos and creating films as projects. After having her daughter, Poppy, their family came back to the States where she founded Smitten Films shortly before adding her third, Hudson, to their sweet crew. Smitten is based in TriBeCa, and takes all those family photos and videos you have and pieces them together thoughtfully and in the most gorgeous stories in film. Below, Lisa honestly shares with us about all her transitions - from an intense career to stay at home motherhood to three children and finally being Smitten.
Q HOW DID YOU CHANGE AFTER BECOMING A MOTHER?
Becoming a mother connected me to the bigger picture of the universe almost overnight, whereas the previous 30 years of my life had seemed to barely scratch the surface. I felt like I understood the way the world worked so much more than I ever had - I suddenly understood why people would cross dangerous oceans to give their children a better life or why they would sacrifice everything for the wellbeing of the person they brought into this earth. I felt the need to protect and defend almost instantly.
Becoming a mother also profoundly connected me to my own mother. My mom and I had always been exceptionally close, but once I became a mother myself, she became superwoman in my eyes. How had she managed to make us feel so loved? How had she managed to enjoy it so much? How did she and my dad have such an incredible marriage? I was completely in awe of her and I was grateful to motherhood for providing me with the opportunity to be awestruck.
Q WHAT CHOICES DID YOU MAKE TO ACCOMMODATE MOTHERHOOD? WOULD YOU MAKE THEM AGAIN?
I couldn’t really go back to my job, even though I wanted to. Although my first career had been in finance, I quit the industry entirely to pursue becoming a film producer while living in London. Once my first was born, I quickly realized that being on location for 3 weeks at a time wasn’t exactly conducive to having a baby and so I made the decision to not return to my work. Being at home was extremely difficult time for me; I did not revel in being a stay at home mom. I was frustrated by all the things that had changed and resentful of my husband who still got to walk out the door every day and use his brain while I had to figure out what to do with a baby that wouldn’t stop crying (literally - he cried for 7 weeks and 2 days).
Of course things got better with time. We had a second child pretty soon after the first so it didn’t make sense for me to go back to work in between. By the time Poppy was 1, I was dying to work again, but then we were moving back to New York City so, again, it didn’t make sense. She was 18 months by the time we actually arrived in NYC and I pretty much started my business straight away - I was SO ready. In the end, I stayed home full time for 3 years and while I loved a lot of it (and miss a lot of it now that I work full time), I wish that I had known that it was all going to work out in the end professionally and to just enjoy the ride more.
I sometimes wonder what life would have been like had I stayed in finance and I sometimes fantasize how much easier life would be if I had a boss telling me what to do (I run my own business). But on balance, I think my choices (though they seemed like inevitabilities due to circumstances more than choices at the time) have led me to the place I am meant to be - I am passionate about my work, I am invigorated by my peers and clients, and I call my own shots with regards to flexibility. The path to get there was not straight, and at the time that felt incredibly frustrating, but in hindsight the dots actually connected beautifully to put me where I am now.
Q DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS A MOTHER IN 3 WORDS. WHAT KIND OF MOTHER WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE?
Loving, fun, firm.
On a macro level, I think I’m on the right path: my kids know they are loved and they definitely know I’m the first one to get up from the dinner table for a dance party, but they also know that when I mean business, I mean business. That said, there are a literally hundreds of little things I’d like to improve upon - PATIENCE, less yelling, nagging, and general frustration; being more available, flexible, organized - the list goes on...
Q HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF OUTSIDE OF MOTHERHOOD?
This has changed a lot for me - when I was staying at home taking care of myself was all about getting ‘me’ time - gym time, spa visits, girl time, etc. Now that I work full time but have the perspective of NOT having worked full time - I see working on my business as taking care of myself. It fulfills me mentally and emotionally, and fosters personal growth for me in a way that staying at home did not. I have less time for the gym, no time for spa visits, and girl time always comes at night now (if at all) but I know that’s the price to pay for what I want to achieve while still being a present and engaged parent.
Q EVERY MOTHER NEEDS HELP TO FIND BALANCE. WHAT DOES YOUR VILLAGE LOOK LIKE?
My husband is the foundation of my village; without him, none of this would be possible. With every new stage of my business, from launch to different periods of growth, he has had to expand his role as husband and father. Beyond that - it’s my nanny, my family, the friends I can call in the middle of the night who will run over a bottle of Children’s Tylenol for me if we have run out, and the network of other mom entrepreneurs I’ve met who keep me afloat.
Q WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON IMPROVING ABOUT YOURSELF AS A WOMAN & A MOTHER?
2016 was a terrible year. My mom passed away, robbing me of the most important relationship of my life. The election threw me into a tailspin. Those two events, but especially the former, have led me to have an existential crisis of sorts (I sort of skipped it as a teenager!). Why are we here, what does it mean, what happens next? I’ve been on something of a spiritual journey in the past 18 months and like all important things, it’s an incredibly slow process and the answers do not come over night. So I suppose my answer is that I am improving upon my understanding of my role in the Universe and making sense of what I do with that role.
Beyond that, I would like to simplify more. As a woman, that means delegating more, saying no more, defining expectations better. As a mother that means scheduling less and taking it down a notch to focus on the simpler things my kids want of me.