Being a parent and an artist is both a tightrope walk and a tug of war. Especially when your children are young and you are the primary caregiver.
This was one of the reasons we set out to make This Sinking Island family inclusive:
to create an inclusive, welcoming environment for parents who are artists, artists who are parents, caregivers who love art, kids who like seeing theatre with their parents, etc.
On a personal note, it was important to me that children also be welcome in the rehearsal room to try and ease the burden of arranging and paying for childcare. Of course, bringing your kids to rehearsal comes with it's own perils....
Nora, age 3, strolling through rehearsal.
The weekend before the Uptown Arts Stroll performance of This Sinking Island, we had a five-hour rehearsal not far from my home in Washington Heights. My original intention was to only have the kids there for a couple of hours but when the sitter came, my youngest wouldn't leave. So they stayed the whole time! Sometimes they were great audience members, other times they just wanted to sit on my lap or interrupt me, or they wanted to play where the actors were working. In the best moments, they were a litmus test for the work that we were creating: every once in a while the girls would poke their heads into the rehearsal space, intrigued by what was happening.
The biggest challenge, of course, is trying to be fully present as a director but also being aware of and responsible for my kids (even though I had a great sitter who was with them).
By the time we got home, after a post-rehearsal meeting with our Dramaturg and Theatre for Young Audiences Associate where I plied the girls with Mac & cheese and milkshakes (#choices), I was exhausted. And full of doubt: Had I made the right choice? Did I compromise valuable rehearsal time? Did I ask too much of the kids?
And then my 4.5 yr old, Lila, unexpectedly came to me and gave me a huge hug. Then she told me the following (and this is a direct quote! I was so gobsmacked that I immediately wrote this down!):
My favorite part of being at rehearsal was being with you and watching the actors do their show and watching you be a director. You can be anyone you want: you can be a mama and a director because you love being a director and a mommy.
I am not kidding! She really said this!!! I melted. And then so did she. Like, total meltdown, screaming crying, refusing to go to bed.
This is part of my new reality but hearing those words from Lila meant so much.