In honor of Mother’s Day three women involved in our wonderful theater community share their experience of being a mom during rehearsals and shows. Read more to see their experience in balancing motherhood and theater.
I have been involved with community theater since moving here in 2013. During Starcatcher’s Heathers I got pregnant and the production team was supportive and worked around any limitations necessary. I felt amazing and was able to do almost all the choreography. Physically I was fine, but I was hormonal and sometimes cried at rehearsals.
When we started Starcatcher’s Into the Woods, Lily was two months old. I was unsure about auditioning but was worried I would lose my sense of self if I didn’t participate. Lily was sleeping great and I was not struggling to manage everything because I was on maternity leave.
I was naive about how many changes babies go through during the first year of life. I had been exclusively breastfeeding or pumping so I thought I could simply leave a bottle. I didn’t know how much of a struggle pumping would be or that I would literally be feeding her up until the moment I left (and rushing home to feed her again). Week after week of being late I began to feel like an irresponsible cast member, rather than the dedicated and giving one I had always been. I also felt unable to be the mother I wanted.
Having to watch Lily until late at night put stress on my husband who is an eye surgeon with a demanding job. I had no idea how much work he had to do at home and that after a month or two Lily would constantly cry when I left. My husband would text me or call me begging for me to come home. Lily would only calm down and fall asleep when I would get home to nurse her.
During the final month or so of rehearsals, Lily began to wake up multiple times a night. I was exhausted so it was hard to remember my material and focus. I got nervous about feeding when we began to rehearse a few times a week. I would pump for hours and barely have enough milk to leave her for the night.
Sometimes I would bring her to rehearsals when my husband had to work overnight. This was challenging to take care of her while at the same time learning new material and performing. Once in a while, I would need to step out of the room because she would be fussy, but I am impressed with how well she behaved in general. I am grateful to Starcatcher for allowing me to bring her.
Neither of our parents live in Israel so we had no help with managing any of this until my mom came to visit a few weeks before the show. On the long show days Lily would come to the theater. Even when she wasn’t there I couldn’t fully enjoy being with my cast mates because I had to go into a corner or a bathroom to pump.
Theater began to feel like a chore, rather than an opportunity to do something that was my greatest passion. I kept telling myself to try to enjoy the process, but towards the end it was difficult (especially when I had work, laundry, and dishes piling up). Of course there were moments when I was singing beautiful music or doing fun choreography that I would get totally into performing.
I still hope to do shows, but I would not do it again with such a young baby. I would like to thank my cast members and the production team who supported me. Whether it was holding Lily, giving me words of encouragement, or letting me vent or cry to you, I truly appreciate it. I hope to enjoy the magic of creating theater together in the near future!
The first show I was pregnant in was a musical and honestly, if the woman is up for it, I’d recommend everyone to be in a musical while pregnant! I performed 6 months pregnant and was rehearsing for a few months prior. Having rehearsals, especially the dance ones, made sure to keep me in good shape and good spirits and I think that definitely helped my pregnancy! Also keeping busy is always good, especially when you might just want to sit all day.
Obviously I didn’t do anything that would harm me in any way and I was very careful, even sometimes having help getting on or off things if I needed but overall it was a great experience for me.
The second time I rehearsed and performed pregnant was only hard because I had another child at home, who would sometimes have difficulty going to sleep without me.
This second time though, I performed closing night just 2 weeks before giving birth. That was my limit. (We needed to postpone the original show dates due to corona, so I gave a time limit on my availability)
This was a play that we were on stage for the whole time. I hardly moved any props or set pieces, just to be on the safe side.
Before having kids, going to rehearsal multiple times a week and staying out late was easy, maybe gave me a little less time with my husband but it was totally manageable and fine.
Now that I have two young kids, going out at night at all, let alone at a set time for rehearsal is very difficult. Most days I’m home with my kids alone so if I need to go out, I’d often have to find a babysitter or have my mother come babysit. Being the one who mainly puts my kids to sleep, or need to nurse a baby, it’s difficult to have a time constraint on my evening routine.
I still love being on stage and I’m doing it right now, reviving a show we did before I had two kids, but it has not been easy on my kids. Luckily since it’s a revival we only had five rehearsals and two show days. So it’s only stressful for a couple weeks.
For the future, I don’t think I’ll be back on stage for a while unless it’s a show I absolutely would love to be in (and I can’t think of any such show now). For me, once you have kids, your priorities change and your availability becomes more rare. And the little time you have with your kids at home between daycare and bedtime doesn’t leave much time for other activities.
Layla Schwartz, my director in Avenue Q, was the second person to know I was pregnant, after Hanan.
I was cast as Kate Monster the same week I found out I was pregnant. The phone conversation went something like this:
“Um…Layla, I’m pregnant..”
“Can I still be Kate Monster?”
“Of course – you’re a puppet, what does it matter if you’re pregnant?”
Thanks to the relative flexibility and openness of community theater, I got to play my dream role of a pregnant monster while fulfilling my real-life dream of becoming a mother (which was a long time coming…).
I still can’t believe I was Kate Monster (even though I went back and watched a few scenes this afternoon…), and (little) Dooby still begs me to sing him “There’s a Fine Fine Line,” and begs to one day watch the recording (when he’s old enough).
After having Dooby, I took a step back from theater. I went from being constantly involved in a show, to doing a show every so often – and only in more flexible roles that allowed me to not be at every rehearsal. Stage managing a show here, acting in a smaller part there, and directing my own kids show, Free to Be You and Me, where I got to make up the schedule in a way that rehearsals started after bedtime so I wouldn’t miss too much time with Dooby. But still, there was a period of time where “Mommy’s going to rehearsal” was the excuse any time I left the house without him…even after the show ended.
I loved being involved in theater, and the theater community helped me find myself, but I find the hours of rehearsals and the intense schedule at times fits less with my life these days, working full time and spending the few waking hours I can with Dooby after gan (and soon to be school!).