About 10 years ago, I went through a really traumatic experience that resulted in PTSD. I didn't even realize that I had developed PTSD until a few years later when things were just different.
I started to notice that even my shadow scared me. I was afraid to do the things that I used to do. Like jumping into a lake, I couldn't do that anymore. I couldn't do things that, to me, a normal person would have felt like were normal. I don't know, I couldn't even go drive in a rain storm because the idea that life is so fragile that literally at any moment things could change was terrifying to me. So that became my own demon to battle, I will probably struggle with it for the rest of my life. Like, just when you think you've healed, you've beaten it, and you've become this different person, things change.
I decided to start a family, so in doing that, all of the things that I was afraid of for myself, became things I was afraid of for my son. Even things like when he climbs up on rocks, my heart starts pounding. And I'm sure most parents are like, "Oh my god, is my kid going to fall? Is my kid going to slip?" But for me it's not that I'm afraid he's going to slip and hurt himself. I literally in that moment picture him slipping off the rock, busting his head open, and I'm not seeing what's happening right in front of me anymore.
I'm seeing what's happening in my head. Instead of seeing him having fun playing with his friends or his dad on the rocks, I'm seeing him crack his head open and bleed to death. And I'm seeing the paramedics rush to the scene. And I’m seeing myself fall to the ground and cry. And I'm seeing me have to call my family members. And I'm seeing me have to bury my kid. And I know now that's not normal.
Then, on top of it, to have people around you saying, "Oh, boys will be boys. It's just grass you have to let him fall, you have to let him learn. If he doesn’t fall, he'll never learn." And in the meantime, that's the most terrifying thing I can think of. Like, my son busted his lip open when he was a little over one year old. And the little tiny bit of blood I saw sent me into the biggest panic and everyone that was there with me, my family, everyone, was like, "Calm down, you're going to ruin this kid if you teach him to be like that." And then it caused me to stop for a second and think, like, "Holy shit, I might actually ruin this kid if he sees me be like this."
As a mother, you kind of put yourself to the wayside and you forget to take care of yourself. You forget that you count, too, but I also feel guilty. Like I can't even take ten minutes at the end of my day to sit outside by myself, because what if my son needs me? What if my daughter needs me?
You're not just a caregiver, you're more than that. And I took a huge leap of faith and went to audition for a musical at a place where I've done countless shows over the years, and that has always been challenging for me. I've always been a little bit bigger so it's hard to keep up with these young thin dancers, and sometimes I feel like I have to work twice as hard to pull it off. None of that was different as a mom.
After the last show I did there, the director told me when I auditioned, "Hey, you know what, you're audition was great, but you're getting old so I don't know how I'd place you in this cast with all of these young 18 year olds." And then it turned out the next day that one of the guys he cast backed out and he offered me the guy's role, and I took it.
So going into this audition last year was like, the most terrifying thing because I have total mom bod now, and there's no coming back from it and I don't really care. I love my curves, I really couldn't care less. But I walked into this audition and there's all of these fresh out of high school, thin girls doing these crazy fucking spins and I looked at my friend and we were like, "Fuck. What are we doing here?" Like, for real I legitimately almost turned around and walked out of the audition, I thought there was no way, I didn't have a freakin' chance.
But I wanted to do it to prove to myself that I could still do it. That there was still someone inside of me, even if she was kind of hiding behind motherhood, that she was still there, that I was still this different person, that I still had something about me that I considered to be valuable. Not that being a mother isn't valuable, it certainly is, but you lose yourself in that. So I went into this audition thinking there was no way, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I had been thinking about it for a while, I love the show, and so I did it.
And I practiced, practiced, practiced, even though every time I sang to myself in the car I thought, "There's no way, I'm pushing 30..." and it turned out I was the oldest person in the cast. The callback list went out and I was called back for the part I auditioned for, which was a lead. And again I was like, "Oh my god, there's no way." So I go to the callback, and I see the other girls that are called back for this part and I was like, "Oh, that's cute, they called me back for this. How sweet, they were just trying to not be mean." Looking at these other girls I was thinking everyone else is better suited for this part than me. But I went to the callback, I did what I had to do. I felt good about my audition, I thought it was a strong audition, but the whole time I couldn't stop thinking about if my husband cleaned my son, what did they eat for dinner, I couldn't get out of mom zone long enough to enjoy the moment.
And then the cast list went out and I didn't get the part I wanted, but I still got a really great part and I remember sitting down with my husband that night and having the conversation about, "Can we do this? Can I work full time? Can I go to rehearsal until after work and be there until 9:30? Can I miss kissing my son goodnight for that long to do this?"
And he said, "You need to do this." So I said, "Alright."
As we went through the rehearsal process, things were tense because he was struggling to do everything by himself at home, but he did it. And I did it.
And the director even asked me at one point to roller skate on stage and I remember looking at her and being like, "I'm almost 30 and I have a child at home and I still have mom bod and you want me to hold a bubble machine while I'm in roller skates on stage?" And there were different cast members that were like, "Do you want me to do it so you don't have to? I'll skate if you don’t want to." And I remember saying to them, "No, I have to do this. I have to do this, I was given this challenge, this challenge was sent to me, for me, and it's exactly why I'm doing this."
And I did it, and I didn't back down from it. I joke and say I'm kind of a flake, I flake out on my friends sometimes. But it's because I compare myself and think, "I can't be as pretty as so-and-so." Or if we get invited to go hiking, I'm worried I won't be able to keep up and I don't want to look like a lazy fat lady, so I'm just going to stay home.
But that show, I did it. And I remember saying to my husband after the show closed, "I needed to do that to prove to myself that I still could." It's not that I wanted to be selfish, it's not that I wanted everyone to see me on stage and pat me on the back. It's because I needed to prove to myself that if I could wanted to, that that part of me was still in there and I could still do it and I could keep up.
I still felt guilty. Because you're thinking about, in this thing that I've done for myself, how much could I have done for my kids? I know not all mom's feel that way, but I do.
I think society kind of tells you that when you become a mother, that's who you are. And in a changing society where we're allowing women to be individuals, it’s not just our job to stay home and cook and clean and raise the kids while our husband goes to work. They tell us you have your house and your white picket fence and all of that which is really like, from square one when you're born as a female, you are trained that. You don't get an opportunity until you’re much older to think differently. Like, girls when they're little aren't playing scientist or astronaut, they're more often playing house. So I'm sure a lot of mothers feel guilty when they take time for themselves, because we're not taught that it's okay.