Theatre and Parenthood: Why I didn’t quit one for the other

So, I made it through tech week! And opened and closed a show! Anatomy of a Hug is now over. And if you missed it, you missed something beautiful.

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A production shot from Anatomy of a Hug. Picture by Brenda Jean Foley

This show had a few new challenges for me, but one I was not expecting was how much harder it would be to leave my son and direct now that he’s a little more coherent about who is with him when. When I was directing How I Learned to Drive, he was about 7 months and not in much of a clingy phase quite yet. We would have fun playing at the park before rehearsal and then his dad would pick him up and he’d be so excited to see daddy that he’d barely mind or notice that I was slipping away into rehearsal. Now that he is a little over a year old, that story has changed. I don’t feel guilty working. But it does make me sad that he is sad. I think my husband feels the same when he has to leave for work in the morning, he just sometimes gets the break of breakfast being a good distraction for him to slip out,

Guess who doesn’t care what time rehearsal ended? Your baby. That’s who.

It was hard to be gone so much last week and even harder to be exhausted for the time we were together. I had moments in my tired, undernourished state that I wondered- “WHY am I doing this?” But I’m happy to say I know exactly why.

I’m continuing to work in the theatre because I love it. It makes me come alive and reenergizes a part of me that I can then give back to my family. I do it because I want to model for my child that family dynamics don’t have to look traditional to be functional. I’m doing it because if I didn’t see women working and nurturing their family when I was growing up, I might have thought the two were mutually exclusive and while I am mostly a Stay At Home Mom… sort of… when freelancing is light, I hope that I’m modeling another option for young women who feel like one day they will have to choose between art and family. I am doing it because my husband and I believe in defining your own success. ((I’m at a place where modeling this right now is a good fit for my family. And I don’t think taking a break in the future would mean any kind of failure if that becomes the better fit, but I don’t think continuing to work would mean failure as a parent either.)

Finally, I’m doing it because theatre has taught me a ton about parenting and I’m a better parent for it, Also, parenting is teaching me a ton about life that I can bring back to my work in the theatre. It is a beautifully symbiotic relationship and one about which I’m planning to write another post or two very soon.

For now, I’m taking this week of “downtime” to catch up with other meetings and work and to set aside some extra playtime with my son and reconnecting time with my husband before we jump into the next set of rehearsals (this time together!)

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