Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Working Girls

So I've been working.

Before I jump into that I'll catch you up on the last few weeks: Luciana has 2 teeth and is sitting up. And while she can sit, her favorite position seems to be any sort of backbend she can get herself into, which often results in her looking rather like an infant Cleopatra, draped dramatically across my legs. A girl after my own heart (although let's be honest, the girl owns my heart).

And we are adjusting to a whole new kind of day: Mommy at rehearsal for 6 hours 6 days a week kind of day.

What happened: I auditioned for a wonderful play and got cast. Then I cried. And cried. And cried. And almost said No. Left to my own devices, that might have been my answer. But that's what angels, in all their incarnations, are for. I spoke to the woman who leads my Mamas' Group. I spoke to friends who'd gone back to work. I spoke to my husband. I spoke to people at the theatre. And I asked for the willingness to trust my gut despite the horror stories my head wanted to tell me about how hard this was going to be and how my relationship with my daughter would be wrecked. I imagined how powerful it would be for both Luciana and me for me to create an incredible balance of mothering and doing work I love. After being reassured by everyone on the list above that Luciana would be great, and after getting really quiet with myself and discovering that my answer was leaning Yes, though that was the harder answer to give, I accepted. And while I have all but disappeared from my life outside this house and the theatre, I can tell you it was the right decision.

What I will say about it a week into rehearsals:
The first 2 days were SO HARD. She was crying, I was crying. And this is not even with me leaving her all day--we've worked it out so she's at the theatre with me. But just going those 6 hours without more than 15 minutes at a time with her, and worrying that she was going to suffer being away from home all that time made it a very very very tough first couple days.

Since then, and we had Day 7 today, she is THRIVING. We have all morning together, then she comes with me, I see her and feed her on breaks, and the rest of the time she's with either my mom or the phenomenal babysitter we hired. When I do see her she is laughing and babbling, and after we drive home and I cuddle her and put her to bed, she sleeps beautifully --not tormented, this one. As one of my best friends said to me, Luciana's world is getting bigger. She's having the chance to form deep relationships with other people, as well as learning that Mommy ALWAYS comes back.

And as for me, I get to see that this is harder on me than on her: Luciana really is doing beautifully, and I can tell just by how she is that she's not "holding anything against me" or feeling less close to me or having baby stress because she's not in her house all day. My head can get into those fears, but if I check in with my daughter they're just not true. So I'm working on letting them go, and I'm diving into the huge gift this project it. It's my old life meeting my new life. I've never done a play as a mom. I am still figuring out where I work on the script outside of rehearsals, because every moment I'm not working I want to be with my girl. I've pretty much forfeited exercise except for walking with her for the month of rehearsals--I don't want to take the morning time away from her to go get on a spin bike. I've had a couple spells during rehearsal where I am SO TIRED I'm not sure I'll be able to get my lines out in English, and then I do, and I get inspired by what's going on around me, and then I get hit with these moments where I realize I'm living the dream. And I am profoundly grateful to everyone who contributed to this experience being possible.

So what is my point with all this...

The decision to work or not work as a mama, or when to work as a mama---that is, if you don't have to, which lots of people do-- is SUCH A PERSONAL ONE. If you'd told me I'd be doing a show in January I'd have bet our house you were wrong. I just didn't think I'd be ready, she'd be ready, and in fact after I initially auditioned for this one I decided I wasn't ready. I cancelled another audition and planned on taking myself out of the game for a few more months. Then things happened and here we are. Some fears beyond the ones I already mentioned were people judging me as selfish since I don't HAVE to go back to work yet, me somehow damaging the incredible closeness I feel to Luciana, my life feeling totally out of control, sucking in the play because my responsibilities as a mom are so big.....those are a few. NONE of these fears (except for people judging me and I can't know if that's happening or not, so I've chosen not to care) are being played out. I am having a gorgeous time, and I'm able to because Luciana is having a gorgeous time. I love working in my field, and I know that after this I get to be home again for a while.

Some things that are really working for me to anchor our relationship:

making sure we have time every morning where we just PLAY. Not get dressed, not pack the toy bag for the day, just play together.
telling her every morning that we'll be going down to the theatre, that I'll be working, that I'll see her on breaks, that I'll be thinking of her constantly, and on breaks talking to her as well. I know she understands me on some level.
When we get home in the evening, thanking her for being so willing to go on this adventure. And holding her really really close for a really really long time.

I told myself as I was preparing for this process starting that this was Luciana's and my chance to write a beautiful story about this time. We get to tell the tale of mama going to work doing something she loves, and everyone living happily ever after.