On Art and Motherhood: Or How I Save Money on Toys

by Esther Emery

Milo’s 9-month-old entertainment picks of the week:

  • The staple gun.  Makes him giggle.  Who knew?
  • The propsmaster banging on things to distress them.  He likes to bang on things, too.
  • The Genie lift that the electricians use to get up to the lights.  Up or down.  Milo watches.  He didn’t know people could fly.
  • The junk pile.  This might just cause total euphoria were he actually allowed to climb it.  Your time will come, Milo.
  • Gel.  It’s a clear synthetic material that changes the color of the lights.  It is colorful.  It is sort of see-through.  It makes the best crinkle noise ever.  Scraps of it fall from the sky.
  • Zip cord.  Washers.  Lumber.  Corrugated plastic.  And a half-dozen beautiful smiling women and men who make faces at him as they cross the stage between projects.  His extended family.

Fisher Price, you’ve got nothing on this.

I wasn’t even a freelance gleam in the MOXIE eye when they wrote their kids-welcome rehearsal policy.  And the first time Delicia brought her kids to one of my rehearsals I responded with a resounding open-mouthed silence.  No, I didn’t actually say anything.  But I was totally thinking it. “We’re theatre people.  We don’t have babies.  They’ll disturb our process.”

And they do.  Especially when “process” refers to that transcendental creative state, not unrelated to religious fervor, in which the artist acts as passive vessel through which inspiration flows freely until a fellow artist or manager foolishly introduces the distraction.  But that’s a subject for another post.

Obviously I’ve had a change of heart since I first met Delicia, and it had more to do with my biological clock and sudden, inexplicable desire to kiss all tiny wrinkly fingers within striking distance than it did with politics.  But I’m proud to practice the politics, too.  Women bear children.  Women create.  We are not fractured.  I am not a different person when I bounce a baby than I am when I participate in a collaborative artistic process.  I do both.  At MOXIE I do both at once.  And so does Milo’s dad.

And that’s how it happened that a party line don’t-speak-until-spoken-to LORT stage manager started breaking the cardinal rule.  I brought my personhood to work with me.  And yes, I drop tasks and pick them up again without warning.  I expect designers to understand what I’m saying over the sound of a Bronx cheer.  I hand a baby to another MOXIE mid-sentence so I can finish an important thought and occasionally sprint across the stage to intercept that truly impressive speed-crawl towards the five gallon paint bucket.  It’s a glorious, messy pile of chaos.  Kind of like parenting.  And art.

Where do you want this, Dad?

You can tell I’m better rested than I was the last time I tackled this subject.  Milo slept straight through from 12:30am to 6:30am.  I practically leapt out of bed to kiss him this morning.  

And I’m also on my second cup of coffee.

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