As I’ve shared here…and shared again...one of my biggest pre-motherhood passions was theater. I was the teenage girl who stood in front of a mirror and choreographed dance numbers for fun on Friday nights and gave up my summers to rehearse 8 hours a day for musical productions. To say I was “a little bit bitten” by the theater bug would be like saying March in Michigan is “a little bit torture.” No, it was full-on obsession.
When I met Stephanie Precourt–many of you will know her as the cute-beyond-belief creator of Adventures in Babywearing–I knew I’d like her because we had so much in common (large families with one girl after several boys, similar parenting styles, we even live near one another!) But after meeting Steph and having a few conversations it came out that we have even more in common than I knew: we are both theater lovers who had put that part of ourselves on hold to raise our families. And while we both love our families and wouldn’t change anything for the world, still…we both miss our pre-motherhood passion.
Or should I say ‘missed’? This May, Steph is producing and directing the Valparaiso, Indiana production of the Listen To Your Mother show (created by the also incredibly awesome and talented Ann Imig)–and I’ll be one of the cast members, reading an essay I wrote about what I learned about motherhood while attending a mom & baby yoga class.
I was so impressed by Steph’s initiative and guts, producing a whole show all by herself after years away from the theater. It’s such a fantastic illustration that moms can pursue their passions when the season is right, even after time away. Stephanie very graciously answered a few questions about her theater background, motherhood, and how she got involved in this new production–I hope you’ll find it as inspiring as I did.
Meagan: Can you tell me about the role theater played in your life pre-motherhood? How did it make you feel back in those days….did you think it would always be part of you?
Stephanie: I grew up in the theatre. From as far back as I can remember I was in church plays and musicals as my Mom was usually the director. Then in third grade I got involved in a children’s community theatre guild and was hooked. I just knew I was meant to be on stage. I was involved in theater in high school and college, as well as community productions. I went to college in Chicago with the idea that I would someday have my own children’s theater. Then, like life happens, I got caught up in other things and grew farther away from my theater dreams.
Meagan: And then you had children, and like many of us a lot of your pre-motherhood self got put on the back burner. Did you miss the theater? Did you find yourself, like me, sniffling over Youtube videos of productions just knowing that would never be you again…ahem…I mean, tell me how it felt for YOU.
Stephanie: I think because theater feels so much a part of me, like another limb, I would feel wistful for the days I had the freedom to commit to hours and hours of late rehearsals and performances. I couldn’t *not* feel it, but I tried to hide it and ignore it. Especially being an attached parent and breastfeeder, I felt like there was no marriage between babies and theater. And I always thought I won out of the deal, because here I am with my four beautiful babies. I mean, I felt like I had to choose. In the back of my mind I always thought, maybe when they are all grown up… but then I’ll no longer play the younger roles; I’ll be the old lady they need to cast! Or maybe the director.
Meagan: Ha! I can relate, there. I remember I had the exact same thoughts when I was younger, “Well, I can always do theater when the kids are bigger, but then I won’t be able to play the ingenue or the young romantic lead, I’ll be…the old lady.” Of course, in my head back then, the “old lady” roles were anything 40+. At some point I stopped being disappointed about that and started looking forward to it!
Stephanie: I totally know what you’re saying, and actually as I’ve matured I realize–whether in watching movies or live theater or even reading books, etc.–I find the older, more seasoned characters the ones I now want to play. Funny how it works out that way.
Meagan: So now you’re getting back into the theater, with this production of “Listen To Your Mother.” What made you decide to take the plunge and re-acquaint yourself with this important part of your life? Did you feel any hesitation or face down any obstacles? Did you feel the need to justify it to yourself or your family?
Stephanie: I basically jumped in head first, eyes closed! But I am so glad I did. I think I just knew I had to do this. And the timing was right. I hit a point in my life where it was increasingly important to me that my children see me doing something I love outside of our family/home. Upon viewing last year’s Listen To Your Mother show, I immediately contacted Ann and wanted to be involved. It more than spoke to me, it breathed inside of me. I feel a lot of hesitation and obstacles AFTER the fact- just because it’s hard work and a ton of pressure to make sure it all works out okay. I mean, it’s all on me! But, not everything you love and succeed at in life comes easy. This is all well worth it, and the harder I fight against the pressure, the prouder I am of what I’ve accomplished. It’s no small feat, and I am doing it. I am so thrilled that I can combine my two “choices”- motherhood and theater (on top of writing.) It’s basically a dream! But it’s real. And I think some people might not take me seriously at first but it’s only because they might not understand the project. I know without a doubt that after seeing the performance, everyone will be blown away. I am banking on this.
Thank you so much for joining us today, Steph! I know you’re right that Listen To Your Mother will be a huge success–and if you are anywhere near the greater Chicago area, I hope you will come see us in action at 7 PM CT on Saturday, May 7.
Okay, readers, time for you to jump in: what pre-motherhood passions, hobbies or interests have you put on the back burner? Is there a way to re-introduce them to your life now?