Tonight, as she has for the past few weeks my 14-year-old is rehearsing for her school's production of Moulin Rouge. Soon she'll spend weekends rehearsing, seven hours a day up until the show's premiere in late February. In between she still seeks out and performs at open mic nights, singing and playing guitar. She has one singular dream, to be a pop star and as she puts it "There is no Plan B because that means you have no faith in your dreams." Cue applause and a Z-snap.
Meanwhile, the 12-year-old is preparing to begin rehearsals for her school's production of Tommy. On Tuesdays she takes a dance intensive class to learn steps for the numbers and just to hone her dancing skills for future shows. She's in love with performing and wants to be on Broadway one day, and already has her monologue ready for when she's a guest on Jimmy Fallon. You know, after she wins the Tony.
As for me, I freak out and break out in a cold sweat if I have to address a audience of more than two people. My most vivid memory of taking piano as a child are the intense, week-long stomach aches I used to get before every recital. In middle school or high school, the idea of performing in public was as absurd as walking naked across the senior lawn, although I do remember a few of us egging on a classmate to do just that during finals week. And just our luck - since he was in drama club he accepted the challenge willingly and got all of us in trouble when he started taking off his clothes as the 5th period bell rang.
People always assume that the girls get their performing bug from me or my husband, but nothing could be further from the truth. Sure my husband's in a band, but that was something he started as an adult, and his experiences with any type of organized performing as a child are as non-existent as mine. He does remember playing at some parties in high school, but that wasn't so much for the love of the greasepaint as it was for the love of the unlimited access to the kegger being offered in the backyard patio.
So where do the girls get their career aspirations? I'm thinking there was a mixup at the hospital - I did give birth at a hospital frequented by celebrities, so perhaps some singer/actresses somewhere are actually raising my camera-shy daughters who hate being in front of an audience. Their moms are throwing up their hands because their kids won't perform the duet with them from Miss Saigon, or refuse to enter the talent contest at the local community center. There are tiny sequined gowns going to waste in closets, and their moms go to sleep at night drying their tears with unused pagaent applications.
But whatever the case, and as long as my girls want to pursue these pop-star-Broadway-diva dreams, I'm going to support them in any way I can. Even though I might not understand the desire to put yourself on a stage in front of a bunch of strangers for your art, I can understand wanting to follow your dreams and I'm betting I'll be watching them walk up on a stage sometime in the future to accept an award.
Although, I'm getting a stomach ache just thinking about it.
Marsha Takeda-Morrison is the author of the blog Sweatpantsmom, which is where you'll find her when she isn't driving her kids to rehearsal or freaking out before a presentation.