I am a stage mom. Now, I know to many that has a sour ring to it and lacks the cache and acceptance that "soccer mom" or "student of the month mom" might have.
This article isn't intended to be a comparison of what mom job is better and deserves more gluten free brownie points. This is an article about listening to your child and embracing their feelings. Sometimes their very big feelings.
To me, part of the mom description includes listening to your child. I love hearing what my children have to say. I do admit that I am basically done hearing about Ariana Grande and what her favorite foods and colors are. But I listen. What my children have to say matters and that is important. They are worth being listened to and will grow up knowing that what they say counts.
When my 10-year-old was only three she became fascinated with performing. She wanted to be "in" the TV. I thought it was cute and left it alone. After a few months of her pretending to be everyone from Dora to Mickey Mouse and a newscaster, I asked her if she'd like to try to be on television.
I explained the process of meeting agents, taking classes and auditioning in my best age appropriate language. My daughter was over the moon with excitement and couldn't wait to get out there and hit the pavement. Point is, I listened. She wasn't interested in ballet, soccer or mad science. Performing was what she wanted and like anything else we tested the proverbial waters. I am proud to say seven years later my daughter is a working actor and I am a mom that listened. (I am also a mom that has spends an inordinate amount of time driving to auditions but that's a different article).
Today, I took my younger daughter to an audition (she has the acting bug as well). It was a call for 3- to 5-year-olds. I noticed a little girl crying. She was scared to go into the room to audition. The mom got very upset with her and gave her a smack on her bottom and rushed her out of the waiting area. It was heartbreaking. In retrospect, I wonder if I should have gone to help the little girl or the mom. Should I have spoken to her about the demands of show business or how important it is to hear our children? After my daughter was done I couldn't find the mom or her little girl. But, here is a letter from one mom to another.
Dear Mom of LIttle Girl,
I couldn't help but notice the tears and fear on your little one's face as she ran to you expressing her fear of auditioning. I saw your frustration and disappointment. The bright lights of show business can be very intoxicating. But please, listen to your child. Maybe she isn't ready for a rooms full of strangers asking her to act happy or pretend to be eating a hot dog. Maybe she would just rather pretend to be Elsa and dance around the living room. This is a challenging and demanding business. If she wants it she will let you know. It broke my heart today to see you squash her feelings and dismiss her fears as if they didn't matter. She was scared and didn't want to audition. Maybe she will be ready next week or next month. Hear her, she was loud and clear.
A veteran stage mom.