A little background about my younger self. When I was about 18, I told my mom that I wanted to act. Yes, I was scared about what to expect, but that’s normal, right? After several conversations, my mom, bless her heart, decided that I probably shouldn’t pursue acting. Nerves, cost, failure were all reasons for her decisions. And being the obedient daughter that I was, I concurred. After all, my mom knew what was best for me. So, I put my dreams on hold.
Fast forward 6 years.
At 24, I married my husband. Not only did he encourage me to pursue my dreams, but pushed me onstage. Although only performing in church productions for 3 years (OK, they were huge church productions involving audiences of nearly a thousand per show), I decided to take the plunge into community theatre. GASP! Yes, I was nervous. “But if I didn’t do it now, when would I? I mean, I’m already 28 years old! I’m getting up there!” (Now, at almost 40, this makes me chuckle.) After several workshops, auditions, and call backs, I decided that acting wasn’t really my thing. Yes, I loved it, but it was more work and less glamour than I thought. My dreams of acting turned into merely day dreams. But I was OK with it! I tried. I liked it for a minute. Moving on.
Fast forward 8 years.
My oldest daughter, Audrey, was cast in her school’s production of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as Charlie Bucket. We were so excited for her! Audrey had tried out for a few things at her new Jr. High and had not yet been successful. But Audrey has a never-give up attitude. Don’t ask me where she gets it. People say it’s because of good parenting, but I’m not so sure. I typically want to hide under my down comforter in my dark room if someone looks at me the wrong way at the gym. But Audrey doesn’t stop. She auditioned for this play hoping to get just a few minutes of stage time. Her director saw something in her that, as of yet, no one had.
Of course, Audrey was a natural on stage. She has a petite figure and a voice that hits the back of the theatre. She was born BIG! The stage is where Audrey wanted to be. Forever. So, my husband and I decided that if this is what she wanted, we would support her. A short 9 months later, she was on her way!
We did everything right. We got head shots for her, an agent, and drove her to countless auditions, call backs, and performances. Yes, we were the perfect stage parents!
At least that’s what I keep telling myself. What you don’t know is that because I had a desire to once perform at a young age, I carry a lot of regret. Yes, I did say that I was ready to move on from acting. But what if I had started when I was only 12, like Audrey? What if my mom let me get head shots and an agent. Where would I be today? Probably exactly where I am. You see, Audrey has something that I didn’t have.
She carries a desire to perform. She loves her craft. The head shots and agent bookings are fun. But Audrey really doesn’t care about that. She loves stepping into a role. Becoming something that she isn’t. Creating a whole world for a character. Me? I like the red carpet. The cheers and flowers during final bows. The glamour.
So, how do I not become a stage mom? By being a mom. By letting my daughter be what she was created to be. If she decided to be a veterinarian, a gardener, or a lawyer, would I treat her any different? My job is to support her, her dreams, and her goals. Not mine.
I’m certainly not a perfect parent. No one is. But by being her mom, and not trying to live vicariously through her, Audrey can do whatever she wants. It’s my job to love her, support her, keep believing in her, even when she doesn’t believe in herself. That’s what moms do.
I just like to remind her that she promised me that first guest spot when she makes it to the Academy Awards. Yes, I still like the glamour.