Monday, April 16, 2007

Everyone's a Stage Mother

My daughter, a future Broadway star, is suffering from post-production depression. Her run as Annie Oakley in Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun started and ended in the school play last week. Now she spontaneously bursts into tears, and continually rereads a note sent to her by her leading man who wrote, in his wiggly 11-year old manuscript, “your voice knocks my socks off.”

Mourning the ending of a production that consumed nearly every minute of her days for the last months, she’s finding that she needs to find a new something-to-look-forward-to. This pIay has been her work and her love, and now she’s feeling a little lost. I could be cynical and scoff the troubles of the poor, unfortunate 12 year old, but I understand what it is to pour your heart into something, and then to feel empty afterward when left with only memories. And however wonderful the memories may be, they don’t fill the space in your heart that grew when so filled with the love of your labors.

Take parenting, for instance. What a realignment of the heart that takes! With just one look at a tiny, wrinkly, gurgling, needy creature life is reprioritized indefinitely. Parenting stretches the heart to its limits, filling with love, worry, hope and dreams. So for 18 years or so parents are expected to be in rehearsal, working hard to perfect every little piece of their production. Opening night comes, and all we can do is hope to be a member of the audience from time to time. This show should be able to run itself, no longer really needing the production team that made it successful. Thinking back on the baby, the little girl, the child we knew, we have great memories, but I sometimes feel a great loss too.

So my 12 year old daughter has had a taste of a very adult lesson of life: to love something means to give away a part of yourself.


Cora Spondence said...

That's a great analogy and a great thing to learn at any age. The worst thing is that being older or going through it more never makes it easier. The best thing is that it makes love all the more precious.

MJ said...

SO well written. This post makes me appreciate the show and look forward to parenting, all at once. She's so lucky though to have found something she loves so much...

LJ said...

This is such a sweet post. I empathize with her post production depression. It really is strange how things become huge parts of our lives in very short order.