Whatever Floats Your Boat cast & crew, Shuswap Lake, June 2005

“One must not tie a ship to a single anchor, nor life to a single hope.”

– Epictetus

Whatever Floats Your Boat… Perspectives on Motherhood documentary

To be or not to be…a mom? That is the question of the weekend as a group of women set sail on a houseboat. The mother of all topics comes to the surface with courage and candour in this personal exploration about the choices and responsibilities associated with the motherhood decision.

This PGP film was produced in 2005 with the support of the National Film Board of Canada’s Filmmaker Assistance Program.

The documentary was co-created by Maryanne Pope and Shannon Lyons; produced, directed and edited by Heather McCrae; videography by Jill Roberts. “Ordinary Day” performed by Great Big Sea, Courtesy of Warner Music Canada Co. Background vocals by Liese McClaren.

Running time: 53 minutes.

Whatever Floats Your Boat can now be viewed here:

Whatever Floats Your Boat, Perspectives on Motherhood from Maryanne Pope on Vimeo.

Here is an added feature of a 20-minute  facilitated discussion:

WFYB Facilitated Discussion from Maryanne Pope on Vimeo.

Here are some suggested discussion questions.

An educational resource kit is also available for academic use.

For further information on the film, please visit the WFYB subsite.

Please click here to read some sample viewer comments…and we’d love to hear your feedback 🙂

PGP’s community partner on this project was Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids, an organization tackling childhood hunger one lunch at a time. Since Sept 2011 alone, they’ve made 140,000 lunches for kids in Calgary who would otherwise go without!

Interested in hearing more about mother-related topics?

In May 2015, we launched a Mothering Matters blog series that covers a wide range of topics from the decision of whether or not to have children, to adoption, to the concept of mothering in the broader global/community perspective, to the challenges of raising children in today’s world, to infertility, to dealing with our own aging mothers…and everything in between!

For more information on the Mothering Matters blog series and to sign up to receive the weekly blogs, please click here

“It takes a village – a whole, eco-soul-centred human community – to raise a child well, but it also takes a whole village to produce a parent capable of raising a child well.” – Bill Plotkin, Nature and the Human Soul; Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World

Related Links

Nonparents.com – for people without children by circumstance or choice



  1. Trisha Carleton on February 8th, 2012 at 11:15 am:

    I recently watched the WFYB documentary and was surprised at the effect it had on me. I am in my late 20s, currently single, and have never wanted children. If you were to ask anyone who knows me well, they could definitely tell you my strong views about why I never want children. So it was strange that the take-away-message I got from WFYB was that the women in the documentary who did not have children, for whatever reason, were the ones who were upset, having to rationalize their lives and state of “happiness”, and were the ones crying to the camera in the one on one interviews. While the women who did have children, by whatever circumstance, seemed genuinely happy and satisfied with how their life resulted. Not one person with children expressed even a hint of regret for having them (although it’s questionable if anyone would express these feelings if they did as it is considered not acceptable in our society). But it really made me think that in a very simplified and generalized way that children in ones life equals some kind of happiness, while the absence of children equals some kind of unhappiness. Which leaves me with the fear that I might be missing something potentially very important and valuable in this life – that unfortunately has a small window of opportunity in a woman’s life and (ideally from my point of view) requires a devoted, monogamous male partner. Given that requirement, I suppose I should just give up now – lol!

    Thanks for the documentary Maryanne – it really made me think!

  2. Maryanne on March 8th, 2012 at 7:03 pm:

    We just received a fantastic endorsement about the Whatever Floats Your Boat…Perspectives on Motherhood documentary from a wonderful therapist by the name of Esther Kane! Here is the link:



  3. Maryanne on March 8th, 2012 at 8:31 pm:

    This feedback on the film just came in via e-mail:

    Oh my goodness- that motherhood movie was amazing! thank you!!

  4. Maryanne on March 15th, 2012 at 6:20 pm:

    This comment is from Sarah:

    I find it very interesting, too, all the perspectives of motherhood. I wish I had known this…back when I was a new mom. Sometimes you just assume EVERYONE loves to throw themselves into motherhood 100%…and back when I questioned that in my 20s, I didn’t have anyone of the same mindset. It seemed EVERYONE was having a baby. When at 30 I still didn’t plan on kids, I could sense that lots of people thought that was odd. I was getting a lot of pressure. Now it’s more accepted to say no, I don’t want to go that route. Or perhaps just, “Butt out!”. Anyway…I learn a lot by listening to other’s perspectives.

  5. Maryanne on March 27th, 2012 at 7:16 pm:

    This comment came in from Steve Trimmer:

    My wife and I watched Whatever Floats Your Boat this past weekend and we really enjoyed it. It touched on some very sensitive and important issues of our age, and relates back to the importance of feminine divinity again in my mind. Women are truly the strength and power in the world and in the universe; and they must find their paths once again to lead the future back into a state of harmony and peace. Some are meant to be mothers of children, others to be leaders, educators and mothers to the human race, some to be all these things. We all know instinctively what our true path is. Our Higher Self speaks to us always if we listen, and our past lives remind us of earlier mistakes, helping us to avoid them again. I believe that true philanthropy is directly related to this awareness. I hope that one day all women find the inherent magic and power within themselves again. If so, we all will be the better for it.

    You did an excellent job in the making of this film and I would like to congratulate you on it!

  6. Susan James on April 14th, 2012 at 11:11 pm:

    Congratulations, Maryanne! I want to thank you for creating WFYB. Not only was it a way to assist you to heal, and not only did it assist the women who joined you on the boat, but forevermore afterwards, it will assist women who wonder about the topic of motherhood and what choice they should make.

    The doc + discussion resonated with me because, except for the women who cannot have children, I have been in the position of everyone else on that boat. I didn’t think I wanted kids, was pretty sure I wasn’t nurturing and yet woke up at age 40, deciding I didn’t want to miss out on the chance. I got pregnant and had my baby at age 41. At 13 weeks pregnancy, I had complications, had my baby prematurely at 26 weeks (I really understood Stacey, who was pregnant on the boat and her comments afterwards in the discussion. I, too, wanted to have more kids, but since my husband almost lost both of us, he didn’t want go that route). My daughter spent 137 days (5 months) in an NICU until we could bring her home.

    Initially, I traded going back to work with spending 12 hr days at the hospital and then the next 3.5 years with Occupational and physical therapists, 5 specialists at Sick Kids, Isla needing a helmet, speech and language therapists. We became parent buddies, wrote a book of Isla’s journey through the NICU and began to assist other parents of premature babies. When the dust settled, our marriage broke down, we separated and are heading now for divorce. I now am back at work in the film and tv industry, as a single mom of a bright 6 year old girl who started out worse than most preemies born at her age and weight (2lbs) and she has overcome almost all issues. I’m in the process of developing a doc about premature birth (that’s how I found WFYB).

    Having gone through all these ordeals in the past 6 years, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. No, it has not been a garden of roses. Yes, I am nurturing (it was a pleasant shock) amd I’m stronger than I ever thought possible, and all of it is because I decided to have a child. I’m not saying motherhood is for everyone. What I am saying is this journey has shaped me, and propelled me forward, towards finding a way to help parents of premature babies, single moms and women going through divorce. I’m not sure how I’m going to do this, but it is the direction I’m headed.

    Thank you, Maryanne, and your team. You will help more women than you’ll ever know through this documentary. Cheers, Susan

  7. Maryanne on December 1st, 2013 at 1:21 pm:

    This just came in via e-mail:

    I just finished watching “Whatever floats your boat.” What a great idea! It was nice to “meet you” in the video. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the video. At age 44, I haven’t been able to have children myself and found it refreshing and soothing to hear the differing perspectives of the group of women you pulled together. I know there was talk recently on a public notice board regarding a lack of infertility support groups in our area. Perhaps this resource would be of some help to those inquiring. I will explore that further.

    – R.M., MB

  8. Ann Davidman on September 20th, 2016 at 5:06 pm:

    Thank you Maryanne for making this film. I can’t believe it’s 2016 and I just found out about it. I wish I were on that boat in 2005. If I had been there I would have been a widow for 3 years and no children. I would have wanted children but was struggling then to find another partner. I had tried to get pregnant after my husband died with his sperm that we froze. I tried 6 times and it didn’t work. A few years after that I decided to stop trying to make it happen and decided no to motherhood. I had a “No baby ceremony” which allowed me to see who I was and the difference I had made in people’s lives. I was able to move forward after that. Now that I am 60 with a very rich life I am glad that I did not have children earlier on. I don’t think I had the self-esteem then that I have now. Being a mother would have been difficult for me. I am now partnered with a woman and have many nieces and a nephew to dote on and I love every minute of that. I have no regrets. I know I would have made the best of it if I had had a child. I would have gotten the help I needed. Since I was a young person I always wanted to impact the many more than the one. My life suits me now and I make a difference in many women’s lives as a Motherhood Clarity Mentor. I help women gain the clarity they are seeking about this issue. I will share this film wherever I can. Thank you, Maryanne, for the courage to produce this film.

  9. Maryanne on September 21st, 2016 at 9:17 am:

    Thank you, Ann, so very much for your comments about the “Whatever Floats Your Boat…Perspectives on Motherhood” documentary. What a journey you have been on! I will e-mail you directly in a moment 🙂

    Take care and thanks again for taking the time to watch the film – and for your heartfelt response. I absolutely LOVE the concept of “Motherhood Clarity Mentor” and look forward to hearing more about that.


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