As a mom of six, I know firsthand how a parent can get lost in mommy- or daddy-hood. Suddenly, your dreams get put on hold. But why does it have to be one or the other? Why can’t you be a good parent and follow your dreams, too? So that’s exactly what I set out to do and now, I want every parent to know you can pursue a career in acting (or any industry) and still be a great parent. Here’s what you need to know.
1. You will be judged.
No matter how much you believe acting is what you were destined to do, someone will have their opinion and they won’t be afraid to voice it. I remember sharing my decision to pursue acting with friends and other moms, and the response I got was not what I expected. Some asked, “How can you just leave your children like that?” Others said, “Don’t your kids need a mom?” Still others didn’t say anything to me, but definitely voiced their opinions to my spouse, parents, friends, or anyone else willing to listen.
Some people will say these things out of real, true concern for you and your family—no one will see your dream the way you do. But others will say things out of spite, jealously, or just the sheer desire to hurt you. If your dream is not so deeply ingrained in you, you will not survive this judgment phase. Keep pushing.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
Before leaving Tennessee, I read “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. This book helped me tremendously through the judgment phase. My favorite Agreement is “Don’t take anything personally.” This will never be truer than when you first choose to follow your dream and move through the judgment phase.
3. Planning is key.
Prior to leaving for New York, I knew I had to get a lot of things in order. From the kids’ schedules to plans for groceries and meals—anything I could do to make sure the house didn’t fall apart. I made age-appropriate charts for each of my kids that listed what they had to do in the mornings before school, after school, and before bed. I had a family calendar that listed everything from soccer practices to chores. I arranged a regular babysitter for those nights I knew I would need someone, and had another list for back-up in case something came up. I enlisted the help of a close friend to help keep my house clean. Very carefully, I planned out my days and how they went and made decisions on how I could help things continue that smoothly without my physical presence.
Although all of this didn’t replace my physical presence, it did relieve some of the pressure on others in the house to have to pick up the additional responsibilities that I as their mother had done for so long.
4. You can find your voice.
Remember all those times you had to tell your child for the last time that if they didn’t pick up their toys, you were going to throw them away? Or when you told your teenager that she most certainly would not be wearing that out, end of discussion? Remember that voice just before you go out on stage.
5. Know that it’s the hardest thing you will ever do.
No matter how prepared you are, it is not an easy journey. Leaving your family and everything you’re used to is difficult. Traveling becomes tiresome. The work itself is intense. Dealing with the constant roller coaster of success and failure, acceptance and rejection...it’s a balancing act. You can get through it, but it requires lots of discipline. Fortunately, that same fire that brought you here can keep you going.
6. You will be great because you have more at stake.
Let’s face it. You wouldn’t have left your children to pursue something just to be mediocre. You’ve made the leap. Failure is not an option. You will be great.
7. Relationships will change.
The time you used to spend hanging out will now be spent attending classes, reading, rehearsing, auditioning, and writing. You will find yourself so busy that every moment is valuable. Instead of talking on the phone during your commute, train rides become opportunities to study your lines. Couple this with the limited time you have with your friends and relationships are bound to change. As time goes on, you may find you have less in common. You’ll be learning so much and having so many new experiences. Relationships will change, but they don’t have to end, though it will take a little more effort.
8. It’s all worth it.
Living a life doing what you love is always worth it.
Jaydie Tatum has performed roles from Shakespeare to Tennessee Williams on stage. Recent TV roles include a co-star role on USA’s “Chrisley Knows Best.” She has also worked as a print model and competed as a model nationally in the U.S. and Canada. She is currently attending the Tom Todoroff Conservatory in New York City. Jaydie feels especially grateful for the training she’s received from her acting coach, Tom Todoroff, and her dramaturg professor, Dr. Meron Langsner, who encouraged her to write and publish this article.
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