Collaborating with theater companies is interesting. They love to rehearse. And I mean LOVE to rehearse. 6-10pm, 5 days a week, or 6-10pm 4 days a week AND 10 am-5pm on weekends at least 6 weeks at a time. And I get it, they need that rehearsal time. But this rehearsal schedule is BRUTAL for me and my family.
During a recent theater collaboration, Buddy spent a lot of weekends at my in-law’s house. First it began on Saturday nights because I would rehearse late and then have to be back at rehearsal the next morning. And my husband, well, for the most part, he isn’t the stay home and make a meal and take care of the kiddo type of guy. All I can hope for is that he doesn’t give me a hard time when I drop the kid off with him on my way to the theater, he feeds him a decent meal, and that puts the kid to sleep at a decent hour. For now, that is all he can (or will) handle. And my Saturday nights sans child, I usually spent them on a date with my husband. Because, even though I was exhausted, this was the only time I have to spend with my husband all week. If we do not have a date night, I will see him less than 15 minutes a day for a 9-10 week rehearsal and performance run, and that schedule is really problematic for a marriage.
At first, Buddy loved staying at my in-laws. All the unhealthy processed foods and sugar he could ask for, unlimited cartoons. It was fun. But that can get old after a while. Once the Thursday-Sunday performances started, the once a week sleep over at my in-laws evolved into both Friday and Saturday nights. My husband started waking up with the kiddo to make him lunch and take him to school on Friday mornings so I could sleep in. But the two full days of watching the kiddo without me in the house (I was also taking a technique class every Saturday morning before the show) was not something the partner was up for. Buddy grew tired of Nana’s house and he started to miss me.
The last Friday of the show’s run, I woke up around 6:30 am to walk Buddy to the bus stop with my hubby. It was then I told him he would be staying at Nana’s house again that weekend. He started bawling “NO MAMA!!! WHY?!? WHY, MAMA, WHY?!?!? I MISS YOU!! I MISS YOU MAMA!! NOO!! WHY?!?”
My son missed me. Yet I hadn’t gone anywhere.
I felt guilty, like I was a terrible mother for not spending quality time with my son when time is sacred and childhood is precious and fleeting. I also felt resentful, bitter, and angry that I was sacrificing so much time away from my family for so little pay and so much unnecessary drama that oftentimes accompanies theater productions. I promised myself then and there I would never again commit to that type of rehearsal schedule and for so little pay. It isn’t worth the sacrifice.