On Art and Motherhood: The First, I’m Sure Not the Last

by Esther Emery

Like the rest of the MOXIE babes, I’m collecting junk for Junk City.  Here’s Milo playing in the junk pile.

He had a terrible morning.  No, that isn’t quite true.  I had a terrible morning, for which I blame him.  He’s just on the cusp of sleeping through the night, and this morning he only made it to 5am.  I am a morning person, but I work at night.  5am is unkind.

And that’s why, on my third cup of coffee before breakfast, I’m having a conversation with myself:

QUESTIONING VOICE (QV):  Why theater? 

ME:  Because my love of the art form is passionate and bone-deep.  I can’t imagine my life without it.

QV:  That isn’t really a reason.

ME:  No?

QV:  That’s an addiction.

ME:  It’s too early for this.

QV:  So, shut me up.

ME:  I can’t.  You’re in my head. 

QV:  Oh, dear, sorry.

ME:  I aspire to create excellent theater because I believe that excellent theater enhances lives.  I believe that our work at its best engages a collective of individuals in a passionate relationship with their own humanity.

QV:  That was canned.

ME:  No, it was prepared.  There’s a difference.

QV:  So it’s more important to you to “enhance the lives” of strangers in a completely intangible way than it is to personally guarantee financial stability for the people you love, including the child you brought into the world?

ME:  Yes.

QV:  Don’t you wish you had health insurance?

ME:  Well…

QV:  Doesn’t it bother you that you are financially dependent on your husband, even though you’re a working mom and a feminist?

ME:  Well…

QV:  Are you sure that you aren’t staying in theater just because you’re stubborn?

ME:  Of course. That’s ridiculous.

QV:  But you do know that you are stubborn?

ME:  What does that have to do with anything?

QV:  I’ll ask the questions, here.  After all, my name is Questioning Voice.

ME:  Oh God, did I name you that? 

QV:  You’re the playwright. 

ME:  That’s an awful name.

QV:  Are you truly prepared to constantly reevaluate your priorities to balance these two great labors of love over the next eighteen years and more?  Your art takes everything you have.  And parenting takes everything you have.  How the hell is this going to work?

(thoughtful silence)

(more thoughtful silence)

ME:  I need another cup of coffee.

Comment, ladies and gents.  I know you all have thoughts about this.