Now, for most people, theatre and parenthood don't mix. That was my story for a very long time - hours and hours spent in a rehearsal room, late nights and long days, raucous cast parties that lasted well into the wee hours, sleeping in, all the stuff I loved about my job - none of that seemed remotely compatible with raising a youngster. Not to mention the fact that the arena in which I forged my career path - Regional Theatre - meant that for 10 years, I was literally living out of a suitcase; six weeks in one city, two weeks home, three months in the next city and one week home, etc., etc., lather-rinse-repeat.
For much of this time, I was based in New York, and if that city doesn't cure you of wanting children, nothing will. The pace is so hectic, and there is so much to see and do, kids would just get in the way, right? Right?? But I couldn't shake this nagging feeling that, deep down in my gut of guts, I still wanted to be a mother.
My whole self, however, was wrapped up in being an actor. Though I've never been on Broadway (which, for most non-actors, is the erroneous validation that you've "made it") I was living the dream: I was a *working* actor. I was playing leading roles in major theatres across the US. My friends envied my career. I worked with fabulous pros who went on to win Tonys, Emmys, Pulitzer Prizes. As the years ticked on, however, one thing was clear: the machine of audition-job-rehearsal-opening-closing doesn't stop - it will never stop. There will *always* be a show coming up that I will want to do. If it was important to me to have a child, I would never be able to do it unless I got off the wheel and made the time to do it myself.
By the time my wonderful, loving husband and I found each other, however, getting pregnant proved more difficult than we'd anticipated. I had spent my 20s starting a theatre company, my 30s on the road; I was closing in on my 40s, and feeling a bit nervous. With him working a 9-to-5 job, and my erratic rehearsal and performance schedule, we barely saw each other. I made the difficult decision to stop performing altogether so we could focus solely on starting our family, but I took a full-time retail job, which almost made it harder for us to be in the same place at the same time (as I've heard is helpful if you're trying to get pregnant.) After two years of fruitless effort, we finally sought help, and after 2 tries, hit the jackpot. My pregnancy was high-risk, but with the help of an incredible team of doctors looking after me, and the love and support of my amazing husband, I became a first-time mother at 41.
I don't know when I'll go back to performing again. I do know, however, that my traveling actor's days are over. I can't imagine living out of a suitcase, in another city, with a baby in tow. People certainly do it, and more power to them, but that's not for me. Right now, I don't even want to do a show that would take me away from tucking my child into bed six nights a week, and prevent me from being with him all day on weekends. I give huge kudos to those parents who have found a way to make that schedule work for them. I couldn't do it. I've waited too long for these precious, fleeting moments with the baby I never thought I'd have.
Tonight, as I thumb-type this, my beautiful son is sleeping next to me, one tiny hand under his head and the other on his belly, his sweet little face calm and serene. My wonderful husband is curled up behind me, snoozing contentedly. I'm wide awake, though - amazed by how lucky I am - that I get to be *this* child's mother - that this beautiful boy will look to *me* for the whys and answers of the world - that in 20 years, it will be a picture of *us*, from *now*, to which he will refer his friends, and say, "Yeah, that's my mom and me when I was a baby." It boggles my mind.