I spent this Mother’s Day helping my older daughter Claire move out of her college dorm and into her first little house. We took a break in the early evening to swing by location for the music video my youngest, Dove, was shooting with her fiancée, Ryan McCartan, for The Girl and the Dreamcatcher.
It was the perfect encapsulation of what being a mother feels like to me: showing up consistently for the chop-wood-carry-water that is parenthood, punctuated by moments that remind you of why it’s the best role in the world. I got to spend the evening with both of my girls, and witness them engaged in the business of growing into themselves.
I was reminded again of the bedrock truth that no child star, no successful young performer at any level, gets anywhere without the incredible, and often heroic support of their parents—and frequently, it’s really the mom who carries that extra load. Driving across town for years of dance lessons, voice lessons, acting classes, and auditions. Helping kids memorize lines. Sewing costumes. Selling cookies at the concessions table to raise money for the new sound system for their kid’s theatre. Listening to 10,000 versions of the song/monologue/routine their child is learning. Finding money for the headshots, taking on an extra job to pay for the lessons. Being there to help soften the disappointment when a dreamt-of role isn’t won, when there is no callback.
Most of the professional young actors I know personally—who range in age from under 10 to almost 30—would be quick to tell you they could not possibly be where they are without their parents, and especially their moms. The moms sit in the lobby, the green room, the stands, and the audience. They are often backstage. They are the underwater piece of the iceberg—the 80% we don’t see—the literal foundation on which their child’s success, at any level, is resting. They are invisible to almost everyone but their kids—who always know who is there supporting them.
More than anything, I think, mothers hold the space for their children’s dreams. We see the possibility and we contain it for them, creating a space mentally and emotionally big enough for that dream to grow into. Feeling that space gives our kids the courage to move forth even when there is no evidence whatsoever for any odds of success.
Most of us aren’t actually hoping for stardom for our kid when we sign them up for dance class at the age of three. Our kid just wants to feel the joy of music moving through them. And when they play Toto in the local Wizard of Oz, it’s not because they are designing a path to Hollywood—it’s because the play of being another character, and working collaboratively with others, is joyful for them.
To me, there is no greater thing for a mother than seeing their kid joyful in what they do and who they are with. The light of that joy shines on everything around it, and makes every late night and long day worth it.
Here’s to all the mothers out there—holding the space for their children’s dreams, and doing the very real work to make them possible. Mother’s Day doesn’t always look like brunch on a Sunday—sometimes it looks like a lot of boxes moved, and staying at the music video shoot until it wraps at 3:30am.
To all the moms out there in whatever form you take—biological, adopted, or moms by declaration– I honor you, and am proud to be part of this amazing tribe. See you backstage!
My book, The Hollywood Parents Guide, available on Amazon contains everything I wish I’d known when Dove and I started this journey, and will save you untold amounts of time, money, and stress. Full of information you MUST know, it also features stories from parents of other kids who’ve made it!
Or book an hour consulting with me to come up with an individualized plan that takes your own unique needs into account. For about the cost of an hour with a professional acting coach, you can get your questions answered and a road map to help you move forward toward your dream.
Invest a little in your kid’s future today.
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