Confessions of an Almost Stage Mom

(Originally posted March 11, 2010 on blogspot)

My daughter is doomed.

She lives in New York City with a theatre Mommy and an interior designer Daddy. She came to us two days before tech week, so she spent time in a Manhattan theatre before she ever slept in her own nursery. She saw Barefoot in the Park twice before turning three weeks old. She participated in fringe festival events. She’s been to rehearsals, and voice lessons, and artistic meetings. And last week, she went backstage at The Lion King with her babysitter, where the cast oohed and aahed over her.

She is doomed to a life in the theatre.

I try to keep things in perspective. Really I do. When she sits quietly in her high chair and listens while I teach a voice lesson, when she crawls over to the piano and stretches up to reach the keys, when she claps during the Oscars, I remind myself that while it’s adorable, it’s not necessarily, at not-quite-10-months-old, an indication of her interest in a performing arts career.

And anyway. Even if she was interested in performing. I would know how to control myself. I am a very healthy, relaxed, go-with-the-flow kind of Mommy. I could never be one of those crazy stage Moms that you see all around the city. “His agent likes this shot the best, but I don’t know. I think his lips look too red in this one.”

So when I saw a casting notice on craigslist for a student film matching Lily’s description exactly, I knew I had to reply.

OK, not exactly. They were looking for a boy. But if there were any shots where the audience would be able to distinguish her gender for certain, she wasn’t doing it anyway. She looks like a baby. All babies look like babies. They’re androgenous. So, she’s perfect. And I sent an email that said so.

I immediately pictured how much fun we would have at this film shoot. Lily loves cameras. Looking at them, smiling for them, she just loves cameras. What a fun day that will be! And anything that’s fun in this city that we don’t have to pay for is a gift. Soon, I imagined telling our friends and family that Lily got the very first part for which she ever submitted. I went to bed excited to tell Ryan that his daughter was going to be in a movie. I checked my email one more time before falling asleep. After all, it’s a student film. Students are up late. And I just know that when they see my Lily, they’ll cast her immediately.

Except, that was a few days ago, and I still haven’t heard. No big deal, they really wanted a boy. So then why do I keep checking my email, expecting to hear that she’s been cast?

The other night, I checked my phone- again- and when I saw-again- that there was no email offering Lily the role, I got really frustrated. Far more frustrated then the situation warranted. But then. In a moment of clarity that John Bucchino brilliantly calls “a glimpse of the weave,” a subconscious thought came so close to the surface I could almost hear it.

Maybe it was the voice of an angel. Maybe I was too exhausted to fight my subconcious. Maybe I just needed to take a clonopin. But whatever the source of my clarity, there it was.

“I just need something to work out. I just need to be chosen.”

After months of financial struggle and job hunts, I was putting my need for validation and control on my teeny daughter who doesn’t know what a student film is, let alone that she’d been submitted for one. I could suddenly see myself standing over Lily with false eyelashes and a weave on Toddlers and Tiaras. Those mommies aren’t so different from me.

So I caught myself. And I get it. And I’ve backed off in my head, and the whole thing is really very silly. And I’ll still joke about knowing what Lily’s career will look like. (“The Lion King,” then “Hairspray,” regionally somewhere, then a break for high school…) And I know I’ll never really be a crazy stage mom, because I’m far too level-headed, I care way too much about my daughter, and anyway I know too much about what’s effective in this business to try and pull those shananigans.

But the next time Toddlers and Tiaras is on, I might look at those women with less judgement and more understanding.

Although. If I start talking about spray tans- intervene.

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