All the World’s a Stage: Balancing my Hobby with My Family


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I learned the value and magic of the performing arts from a very young age. I started taking ballet when I was four. I appeared with my mother in my first opera at about the same age (as the little boy in Madame Butterfly… all I remember is my shoe falling off onstage and my wig being really itchy). I joined a children’s choir in fourth grade and spent a few years juggling Christmas concerts with the Nutcracker before deciding to focus all of my attention and extracurricular hours on dance in middle and high school. I was lucky enough to attend a fine arts magnet school where my passions and interests were not only supported but applauded and encouraged by my teachers and my peers alike. In college I shifted gears a bit and became a theater major. I spent summers teaching at art camps.

The performing arts were not just part of my life, they became part of my identity.

But then I got married right out of college and moved to Athens where my husband was pursuing his MBA. I started working two jobs, at a restaurant in the mornings and a dance studio (teaching ballet) in the evenings. I was proud to be using my knowledge to teach, but I never considered performing myself. I figured that door was closed to me when I had decided against moving to New York to be a “starving artist.”

When my oldest daughter was less than a year old, I saw that a local theater was having auditions for Carousel, directed by a friend of mine. Against all logic and nearly paralyzed with fear, I decided to go for it and was thrilled to be cast in one of the leading roles. Being back in a performance space, spending late nights at rehearsals and weekends painting sets, was like a breath of fresh air. I felt like I had rediscovered a lost part of myself. “Why did I ever stop doing this?” I asked my husband in wonder. Thankfully his support was unwavering and enthusiastic. He knew that this made me a happier, more complete person and therefore a better spouse and mother, even when the schedule got a bit grueling.

It has been over five years since that performance of Carousel. I did many more shows with that group in Athens, building a little family for myself within that small theater. When we learned we would be moving to Chattanooga, I knew that finding a new theater community would be vital to my happiness in our new home. I’ve been very fortunate to have performed in two shows at the Chattaooga Theatre Centre and one most recently with Artistic Civic Theater in Dalton. Both welcomed we warmly and the performances were fun and gratifying.

People are always surprised to discover my hobby, especially if they know I have three small children. They ask me HOW I can do it: how can I learn all the lines, spend so many nights at rehearsal, stay up so late, invest that much time and energy in something other than my family. My answer is twofold. First, my husband. I could not possibly do any of it if he weren’t willing to step up when I am in a show, and if I didn’t know he would be there to help me run lines, and watching proudly on opening night.

Second, how could I NOT do it? I have found something that restores my soul, that makes me feel special and unique and accomplished, that feels like a gift rather than a burden even on the longest of tech weeks. I have found people that love and respect me, a community that supports me onstage and off, and friends that will last far beyond a curtain call.

I hope that I am teaching my children to follow their passions. I want them to commit their time to worthwhile and fulfilling endeavors and seek out “their people.” I hope as they get older and are able to watch my shows that they are proud that I am doing something to challenge myself. I want them to see me stepping out in front of people bravely even when I am afraid or nervous and taking the risk of rejection in pursuit of a unique opportunity. They will know from very young ages the value of the arts not only in their mother’s life, but in their own, and even, I hope, in the world.

Do you have a hobby that enriches your life? What do you think it teaches your children?