Thoroughly Modern Mammy Maria highlights the importance of still doing what you are passionate about during motherhood
In 2004, I took my little brother and sister to audition for the Letterkenny Musical Society’s ‘Sound of Music’. Both got parts as 2 of the 7 kids, and somehow, I ended up playing Liesl.
13 years on, and apart from the 2 shows where I was on maternity leave, I’ve spent the first week of March each year on stage in An Grianán Theatre with my other family.
Obviously, I have my hands pretty full with Mini Me and Princess, but having sat in the audience last year, I was determined to get back at it this year. And a lot of people don’t get why I bother.
Some actually disapprove…imagine!
“Is it not time to be giving up the shows?”
“What about your poor weins?”
“God that’s a lot of effort.”
Honestly, I’ve heard these lines this week…often from people I love dearly.
Yes, I have 2.4 children and yes, I have a job.
Yes, I’ve left them once a week to rehearse since September. (My dog is a wonderful babysitter)
Yes, I’m going to spend the next 6 nights in the theatre.
Yes, I’m off my head.
Yes, it’s a big commitment.
But it’s also one of my favourite things in the world. It’s something I do with my closest friends each year. It’s the one week The Him and I spend LOTS of time together as he’s been backstage as long as I’ve been on it.
I’m not the only parent on the stage.
It’s fun. It’s exciting.
It makes me happy.
And when Mammy’s happy, everyone is happy! Isn’t that what they say?
Today, the side door to the stage will be rolled up, while our set is built. Lighting rigs will be hoisted at head height while the crew work on them. The familiar voices of Hubby and the Producer and the Director will be calling instructions to each other, co-operating and working together. The chaotic canvass will, in just a few hours, be transformed into a completely believable Oz with a yellow brick road onto which the cast will step.
The sounds of the cordless drill…the smell of fresh wood and sawdust…the muffled conversation of the sound guys from the auditorium… it will be beautiful.
It’s music to my ears.
Yes, of course I’ll miss my two girls this week.
She and her sister are the most important thing in my world.
They are my show.
They are my production.
They are the choreographed chaos of which I’m most proud, and I’ll direct them through life with the more dedication and love than I could ever put into a show.
But they are also only a part of me.
Yes, I am their Mammy… but I’m still me.
I’m still the Drama Queen who lives for the stage.
I still love the theatre.
I still get goosebumps when I hear someone hitting that note.
I still get so carried away watching my closest friends on stage, that I cry because I absolutely believe the pain they are conveying.
And so, standing here today, I don’t feel guilty admitting I’m excited about going to Oz.
The theatre and Performing Arts are part of life in our wee family.
My girls will grow up in rehearsals for shows.
They’ll see the stress and work and time and effort that goes into this “hobby”.
They’ll learn confidence, respect, organisation skills from watching Mammy and Daddy do it every year.
They’ll learn what “commitment” means.
They’ll experience the fruits of the long months of hard work, and they’ll learn that if you want something to happen, you must work to make it happen. No one just hands you stuff. You’re NOT entitled to ANYTHING.
They might even perform on stage with me at some point.
Maybe they’ll hate it all. That’s OK too.
But if I can’t continue up to be who I’ve always been, just because I’ve been blessed with two little darlings, I’m not doing anyone any favours.
So this week, I’ll let my family tuck in my babies while I play dress up and enjoy the show that we’ve busted ourselves to create.
On Saturday, I’ll be super nervous as my Mini-Me sees me perform for the first time, but I can’t wait for her to see that you’re never too old to play and that you CAN do anything if you put your mind to it.
As I write this, there are a handful of tickets left for Tuesday night. If you’re in the audience, I do hope you enjoy. And don’t forget to clap. I’ll be the old, crabbit Aunt Em…looking unglamorous and grey and slightly haggard.
And next year, whether I’m on the stage, in the wings or in the audience…
I AM Still Stage Mum