Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Mostly A Mom

Back in the day when I was working as an actress (some of the time), I had a boyfriend who had a few married friends. He was a couple of years older than me and as his friends approached their thirties, they began getting married and starting families. At that moment in time, marriage and kids weren't even on my radar. I knew I wanted a family, but I was focused on my career and didn't feel I was ready to lose any focus. He was also an actor (the last I would date) and he said that he felt like all of his friends get married, have kids, and then give up their careers. I couldn't understand why anyone would do that. He looked down on their decisions, and saw them as giving up on themselves. At the time, I kind of agreed with him.

A few years later we both got married to other people. Soon after I had my daughter, and thought I could maintain my already challenging career. I brought my newborn with me to an audition and it seemed instantly apparent that I wasn't comfortable with multitasking motherhood and the entertainment industry. I was sensitive to having her around such a dismissive culture, so much of which is based on looks. I felt this impulse to protect her and keep her away. I chose to put my career on hold. If I said I never looked back, it would be a lie. I still work in fitness and have maintained part time work in that field, but I do miss acting. I just don't miss the industry.

Presently, I am trying to figure out what my next steps are. I am toying with the idea of going back into acting, but I also love being a full time parent, and have gotten very comfortable not dealing with the kind of rejection that comes with being an actor. Not to mention how terrifying it is to put yourself out there after years away. I used to be so confident, but my confidence is shaken and covered in dust. I've never let fear get in the way of anything I have done in the past, but I am resisting jumping in.

There are many things that I could do besides acting. I have never felt a shortage of ideas to reinvent myself. I am writing, I am teaching, I am volunteering my heart out at my kid's school, but I still feel like a non-practicing artist. I also feel like I could find a lot of careers that would be less self-serving, but I am mother raising two humans, and that has felt pretty selfless for the last nine years. When I think about not returning to acting, I hear that snide comment my ex-boyfriend made and it makes me mad. He was so wrong. There is so much meaning in raising children, and for some people it's hard to juggle it all. I am one of those people. I may still hold a torch to my old career, but I never regret focusing on being a parent. I just think I feel a slight fire starting under me now. I might put it out, but I might just make it burn higher.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Look Up!

This is going to be a learning year for me. I hope every year will be a learning year, but if I don't learn about time management and boundaries this year then I don't know if I ever will. My friend pulled me away from a conversation and reminded me that I asked her how I could extricate myself from conversations when I needed to go. I'm pretty sure she won't be there to help me out next time though.  I have a hard time transitioning from one thing to the next. I enjoy losing track of time, but I don't have the luxury of doing so very often. That's why Saturday mornings you are not likely to find me on the soccer field. I am trying to stay away from weekend sports activities as long as possible.

Leaving on time for everything is my goal. I don't like that running late feeling at all, but I also love squeezing as much life into my day as possible. I only get one go at this, and it is already going too fast.  I hear "slow down" and "hurry up" in my head all day long. I am supposed to take my time, but also be time efficient. It's very confusing and I don't remember learning it at school.  The one quote I remember though is"Failure to prepare is preparing to fail." That one stuck with me. I just didn't really get the tools down for the preparation part, but I managed to not fail somehow, at least where grades are concerned. 

Interruptions are much more frequent now then when I was a kid. I didn't have a phone, or a computer to send me texts, emails or anything else that signals me to stop what I am doing and respond. These dings and dongs have triggered some serious addictive habits in me and I don't like how dependent I have become on communication this way. As I sit here and try to write this I keep stopping to pick up my phone to see the texts come in. It's hard to ignore it, but it's on my list of goals to at least not look at it every five minutes. Of course that to do list, is on my phone so there is that, but if I can remember how to use a pen and paper I should transfer it. I did learn how to write in school. 

I am the first to admit that I have taken on a bit too much. I need to practice saying "no" and clearing my plate more than I have been. I carve out quiet time every day, but not enough. I spend a lot of time with my kids, but a lot of that time is spent planning for them instead of being with them her and now. I need to stop ignoring my kids because my head is in a screen, and instead ignore my time sucking light box and look at my kids. After all, they are not going to be standing there waiting for me much longer if I keep looking down. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Future Is Female

Yesterday was Oscar Sunday, and we got to attend an award show. We love watching award shows on TV, we have snacks cuddle up and vote on who we think will win. We taped it yesterday, and when we sat down to watch my son didn't get the memo that you don't talk through the whole thing. He asked us questions, blocked our view, and interrupted punchlines. We eventually paused it and after he went to sleep we let our daughter stay up and watch the rest with us. She was really interested in why there was only one woman nominated for best director, especially because in her world there are no gender boundaries yet. The award ceremony we had been to earlier was for her where she received a medal for a film she made.

Only five women have ever been nominated for an Oscar in directing. Out of those five only one, Kathryn Bigelow, won. For ninety years of these awards occurring, that number is shockingly low. Greta Gerwig was nominated for Lady Bird this year, and although my daughter hasn't seen the movie, she is fascinated by the director. A few summers ago when we were back east visiting my parents, my daughter discovered iMovie on my phone, and she hasn't stopped making little shorts since. This fall, when our school had an arts contest through the PTA, she wanted to enter. She could have done any kind of submission, art, music, dance, or photography but she chose to enter for film. The theme was “Within Reach…", so she made a short about kids being able to be whatever they want when they grow up. She cast all of us, directed it and shot it on her own. She won for the City, then the district and got second place at the council level. 

At the ceremony yesterday, there were over 80 kids being honored for all of their hard work and talents. Out of that group there was one little girl who won a third place medal, a second place and a first, for three different categories. She was the only person there who had entered multiple categories, let alone win. The fact that she was a girl too made it all the more impressive to me. Nothing stood in her way. My daughter looked at me and said she didn't know you could enter more than one category. I could see her head planning for next year already. 

For all the limitations we feel as women, and for the inequality and unequal pay, we are paving the way for our daughters to demand more. I know the drop in female self-confidence doesn't really start to happen until closer to adolescence, but from what I see in the peers of my daughter, we are doing our best to offset that lack of confidence. I don't know if my daughter will continue making films, and follow Greta Gerwig's footsteps, but I do think she and her friends will do so much more than women have done before them.