If the name Natalie Gillespie sounds familiar, it’s probably because you recognize her from our inaugural 2015 cast! As per everything she does, Natalie hit a home run with her essay, and it is our distinct pleasure to welcome her back to the Listen To Your Mother Pittsburgh stage!
- Who IS Natalie Gillespie?
I’m a mom to three, ages 19, 13, and 10. My husband and I have been married for almost 28 years, which seems impossible since I often feel like I’m just barely past 25 years old myself. I’m a native Pittsburgher with most of my family nearby and in-laws in beautiful New England. Professionally, I’m so fortunate to make a living doing what I love — communicating and helping others to lead through communications at a large global company.
- How did you discover LTYM?
I’m grateful to a coworker who tipped me off to Pittsburgh’s inaugural show in 2015… I’ve been a loyal follower ever since. Jen and Stephanie can’t shake me!
- What is the craziest thing you remember saying to your mother? And how did she respond?
Now that I have a teenage daughter myself, I can truly appreciate what my mother was thinking when, as a teen totally miffed at having to do chores, yelled “You just had all of us kids so we could do all your work and make your life easier.” Ummm, sure… the best way to have a super clean and organized house is to have four kids and a dog. Right. I think it tells you everything you need to know about my mother that she just started laughing. And probably cast an evil spell on me with the words “I hope you’re just as lucky as me some day…”
- What is one of your favorite things you’ve ever written?
Sadly, I just wrote the eulogy for my father’s funeral… it was incredibly important to me to capture who he was and what he meant to so many people, especially my mom and my siblings and my kids. As heartbreaking as that was to do, I know he’d be really pleased. In high school, I had a column in our weekly community newspaper and my dad was my first editor. His pen was really red… and I learned a lot from him.
On a much lighter note, I am so so proud to have been part of the inaugural cast of LTYM Pittsburgh in 2015. This was way outside my comfort zone and it really changed my life, connecting me to so many people’s stories and helping me find my own voice. Click here to hear “My Declaration of Independence.”
- What do you wish most for your children?
That they will always choose to be kind… and look back on their childhood with happiness and appreciation for our love and the willful neglect that helped them become the independent, wonderful people I know they’ll be. That they’ll laugh a lot and be a tight team, supporting each other and reveling in each other’s differences.
- What do you love most about Pittsburgh?
I tell my kids there are two kinds of Pittsburgh’s: those who live here, and those who left and are trying to get back. I love our sense of community and small-town bigness. That we were at the forefront of the industrial revolution (think steel and aluminum) and then completely reinvented ourselves for the new millennium (thanks to world-class universities, health research, and technology). Throw in bike trails, cultural events, affordable housing, free/low-cost parking and friendly people…. We are lucky indeed.
- What do you hope the audience takes away from your essay?
On our honeymoon, my husband and I attended a show where a comedian poked fun at the Disney tourists spending their vacations taking photos and videotaping, saying “I bet they can’t wait to get home to see if they had fun.” [Note: this was a gazillion years ago, in the days of 35MM film and VHS tapes.] That was a defining moment for us: enjoy the moment… the memories will make themselves. My essay demonstrates we’ve continued that theme.
- Name a hidden secret of Pittsburgh
My favorite ticket in town is Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures. I’ve dragged all three of my children to the children’s series (PAL: Words and Pictures) to inspire them to see the inspiration behind their favorite books and to discover a few new ones. I’ve gained incredible insights into the authors of some of my favorite books.
- Being a mother may be the most rewarding gig ever, but it’s not always the easiest. What are your best tips and tricks?
I have three:
- Eating: The little things put us over the edge, right? Like having kids ask you – before breakfast – what we’re having for dinner. That’s when I realized I don’t hate making dinner, I hate deciding dinner. Now we have a weekly menu board and I am totally smitten by the cookbook Dinner: A Love Story. We don’t always stick to the plan, but at least we have one.
- Whining: Best response to whiny kids—move bedtime up 15 minutes, every time they whine or are grumpy. (If this rule applied to mothers, I might have to go to bed before I even got up in the morning… ) It’s amazing how much more pleasant children are when they aren’t tired.
- Responsibility. The director of our childcare center (Riverview Children’s Center, the greatest place for kids on earth) tipped us off to “Love and Logic,” a parenting curriculum for raising independent, responsible children through love and consequences. If I’m a zealot on anything, it is this program—the books, the DVDs, the free weekly emails, the classes and discussion groups. It allowed us to enjoy our kids and help them grow up great.