They say nothing really prepares you to become a parent. And they were totally right. When they say you are completely unprepared for parenthood, they weren’t joking. Nobody warned me about everything my first born threw at me. I am still trying to pay off that sleep debt she put me in.
I thought I knew everything about kids. Being the oldest of 10 grandchildren, I babysat all my cousins. When I became pregnant, I read the books and blogs. Worst of all? I judged other parents. But no matter how much you think you know, along comes this tiny little person and they somehow annihilate every bit of confidence you had in your parenting skills.
Despite all of that, a joyful little surprise was how much my theater degree prepared me for motherhood. Who would have figured that my being an actor would make me a better mom? My audience just became very small, in size and number (and extremely critical but hey, thick skin, right).
Here Are Five Reasons Being an Actor Helps You Be a Better Mom
I literally have a degree in make-believe!
And I can use it! At the drop of a hat, my kids will bounce into the living room with a complete backstory and I’ll have to jump in with very little information and play along! Theater games and improv classes have nothing on the imaginations of a 3 and 6 year old. Except the rule “never say no” doesn’t really apply to anyone except me. They can say no to any scenario I come up with but I’m not allowed to. But I’m not the director so I’ll just shut my mouth and take the note(s). Also the floor is lava, all the fkn time, LOL.
You are a master storyteller!
We all have that one book that our kids want us to read every night. Whether it’s Goodnight, Moon, The Book With No Pictures, or The Oxcart Man, it all gets repetitive and downright boring after awhile. So what do you do? Change the voices! The intentions morph into something only I know and I entertain myself and the kids. Best of all, the kids love it…well, most of the time, LOL! “Mommy don’t do that voice, you’re not Mittey Mouse, otay?!” Oh, but I am, Mickey Mouse. (thumps chest) Right here.
Emotional meltdowns? Easy.
Been there, done that. Graduated. Worked in a bar. Seen it, heard it.
Several things will prepare you for toddler meltdowns.
- Acting class. We’ve all had our own meltdowns in front an entire classroom of people either judging you or empathizing with you. Or rolling their eyes at you when your performance was having a cringey day. We get it.
- Trying to get seen at an Equity call without an appointment or asterisk because you have to learn how to manage your own meltdowns as the line in front of you gets longer and longer and longer until you’re pushed out the door onto the street weeping.
- Serving the general public at your survival job. All those years of keeping a smile on my face when in reality I wanted to tell these entitled customers to fuck all the way off was real good training for dealing with toddler temper tantrums. Toddlers are tiny Karens without the credit cards.
LOL you think I’m joking but I am not. Scream at me because I won’t let you have another cookie? Let me tell you about the Karen AF bachelorette party I had to deal with at 2am one night, your toddler whines won’t move me.
If there is any proof that being an actor makes you a better mom, then this right here is it!
You Are ready for the long game.
I’ve said this before, but parenting and acting are a long game. You invest your whole heart into your children every single day, but you won’t see the payoff until they’ve grown and start to make their own choices. A career in the arts is similar. The big payoff from an arts career doesn’t come right away for most of us, but hopefully we’ve made the right choices. In both cases, we expect this. There is no shock to the system.
Raising children is a rich treasure trove of life experience from which to draw and color your work.
As actors, we are used to taking inspiration from our own lives and using it in our performances. Every experience we’ve lived in real life, whether joyful or painful, can be conveyed through your character’s arc, ensemble or otherwise. I’ve always loved ensemble work because you can create a new character every show if you wanted to! The imaginary person you sing all your audition songs to can change, and with it, the meaning and intention. Singing about loving your children instead of loving your partner takes the song to a whole new depth. Screaming at another character because they’re acting childish? Impose your children’s spirit onto that person and see where it takes you.
My children teach me how to be a better actor
My children inspire me and fill my life with joy, heartache, laughter and, though we don’t like to admit it, pain. I consider myself a pretty imaginative person, but my imagination has expanded ten fold and my wit is quick (and now child-friendly hah!). My kids remind me to let go, play, and laugh. My appreciation for the little things has grown and best of all, I’m learning how to be a child again and reclaim some of that youthful joy and innocence that I thought I had grown out of. I’ve learned to not let what others think of me affect my life because that’s what I want to teach them.
When I see my kids living freely and honestly, even if it’s a tantrum in the grocery store. It reminds me that being my true self, acknowledging my real feelings, is healthy. They already know what they’re feeling, but it’s my job to help them communicate effectively, and isn’t that what a good actor is also supposed to do?
Yes, training is good. Training is essential. But don’t ever forget to live. Raising your kids is probably the best performance arts training you’ll ever have, so enjoy and relish it. It’s the stuff your life is made of that makes you a better actor, and a better mom.