Stage mothers. The very mention of them make people cringe. And yet, everyone asks me if I like being one. So, let’s just get one thing clear: I am not a stage mom. If you ask any director Sam has worked with around town, I would hope they would agree. I never hang out at rehearsals or offer staging advice. (Although, I did recently offer some marketing advice to a local theater: advertise to the Jews).
My own short lived theater career started at age 5 with a starring role in Mazel & Shlamzel at the West Bloomfield Jewish Community Center (I was Mazel.) I went on to such exciting roles as the dad who stands on the table and yells in “Hair” and the voice of the drive in movie in “Grease” at Camp Seagull in Charlevoix, MI. I was also the dad in “Flowers for Alegernon” at North Farmington High School (my exciting stage presence required people to recreate gender roles for me.) There was also a horrifying audition for “Speed the Plow” at Michigan State University that I cannot even go into now, but let’s just say I didn’t realize you had to be a theatre major to audition.
My theater highlight was when I was double cast with a young Elizabeth Berkeley in the Forest Elementary 3rd grade production of “Anyone For the Moon?” in which we were both cast as Phoebe, the secretary to the President of the Moon. Shortly after, Elizabeth and her parents moved to Hollywood to pursue her dreams of being an actress. My mom told me not to be jealous of her, nothing would ever come of it. Soon after she arrived in CA, she was cast in “Saved By the Bell” and I was left in Detroit trying to figure out how to create a new role for myself on “Growing Pains” (Kirk Cameron’s long lost sister?)
Why do people call us stage moms? Because our kids do something they enjoy? My 4 year old is obsessed with legos. He has declared he is a Lego Master. Will they soon call me “Lego Mom.”?
My 9 year old daughter recently started doing competitive cheerleading. I hate it, mostly because she’s little and she’s the flyer and I am worried they will drop her on her head. Also, her required look is a giant poof hairdo with gallons of makeup. But, when she recently competed for the first time and her team placed first in their division, I saw a look on her face that I had never seen before on her. It was sheer bliss. She had found her “thing.” It was the same look I saw on Sam when he appeared on stage in his first show at age 4, in “Into the Woods” as Royal Trumpeter #4: pride and happiness.
I guess that’s what we all want for our kids. For them to find the thing they love. The thing that makes them feel like they have their place in the world. (I know a lot of adults who are still trying to find their “thing.” For you I say, keep on looking. You will find it.) Maybe we would have a lot less angry people out there if they felt pride in something they can do and a place to belong.
So, don’t call me stage mom. And I won’t call you soccer dad. Deal?