Looking in From the Outside

I have once again come up against the misunderstanding I face at least once every year. It comes from different sources and is worded slightly differently from time to time, but the lack of understanding is the same.

Take 2 Summer Youth Theater is in it’s last week of rehearsals, with performances of Disney’s High School Musical this coming weekend.  Since our church sponsors the theater, our performances and such get announced in church services as a way of encouraging our members to support the teens involved.

After yesterday’s service – where we were promoting the upcoming performances and encouraging people to buy tickets –  I heard a variation of a familiar statement – “It’s nice that your husband lets you play around with all this theater stuff.  After all, it must keep you away from him and the kids quite a bit. He must be a very understanding man.”  *sigh*

First of all, my husband would never dream of seeing this as something he “lets” me do anymore than I would have the attitude that I “let” him play golf.  Yes, we have to discuss our various “extra” activities and make sure that we are not dumping an overwhelming amount of responsibility on one another.  In those discussions, we have both been known to “negotiate” the timeline to make sure that all responsibilities are handled, errands get run, kids get where they need to, and we still get to play.  But neither one of us has the right to give or withhold permission for anything!  To add an extra level of humor to the statement, my husband was the one who had the idea for Take 2 so I’m really helping bring his idea to life!

I don’t “play around” at theater.  Yes, it’s a hobby I indulge in but I also take the work seriously, striving to become a better performer myself and seeking to help young people develop their own skills.  And I will be involved in three shows during this coming school year, all of which come with a paycheck attached so in those cases, it’s a job!

As for the keeping me away from hubby and the kids – for the first half of the summer, hubby was coaching a baseball team and I was supervising two students interns who were directing the middle school show.  Even if I had been home every night, hubby was either at practice or a game nearly every night so we were both busy!

As for the kids, my youngest daughter was one of the students interns so she and I were working on the middle school show together.  The three still living at home are all in the High School/College Age show so we are together at each and every rehearsal.  (Confession – LOVE all the chances I have had to share theatrical experiences with my kids!)

Side note:  my four kids were born in just under five years and hubby spent many years working for UPS and his shift had him in bed by 7 or so every night.  Add that to four little ones and I stepped away from community theater involvement for MANY years.

I’m really not angry.  I’ve heard this statement – or variations of it – for years.  The truth is, theater is something I participated in long before I was known as “Jim’s wife” or “Esther/Margaret/Janessa/Jay’s mom” (pick any child because they’ve all been used numerous times!) and it’s a hobby I am thrilled to have a chance to share with my kiddos.  I have never forced any child of mine to be involved in a theater show but they know that once they commit, they are seeing it through to performance.  (Believe me, there has been at least one time I can remember when a couple of my kids regretted being involved in a particular show and wanted out – mom said no!)

I do appreciate the concern for my family conveyed by statements like the one I mentioned at the beginning of this post.  There are even times when I have to look at what is going on in the life of my family and NOT take advantage of a particular theater opportunity because it would cause an unmanageable level of stress.

I will continue to enjoy theater and share it with my kids whenever possible. I will continue to smile and say, “Yeah, my hubby’s a pretty great guy” every time someone hints in a not so subtle way that they think I’m wrong to be so involved in the world of performing arts.  Most importantly, I will strive to remember that I cannot judge the actions/activities/involvements (or lack thereof!) in another family because I don’t know the whole story!

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