Author Topic: Are there any AEA SM moms?  (Read 4395 times)

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BayAreaSM

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Are there any AEA SM moms?
« on: Jul 06, 2010, 09:38 pm »
Hi all -

In my 6 years as an AEA Stage Manager, I've yet to come across a female SM who has had kids. I've met guys, and several actresses, but no female stage managers. I'm turning 31 this November, and my OB/GYN has told me that 35 is my cut-off for child bearing. I was kind of all for it, until my husband brought up a good point: the hours. Would I really want to be working 12 hour days while my child is growing up? I didn't really think of it that way because with my current gig I am a resident SM and only work long hours during tech and performances. Otherwise, it's just Monday-Friday 9am-6pm, which isn't all that bad.

So, has anyone out there done it? Was it hard? Do you recommend it? I really want advice from people in my field, because those that don't do this for a living really don't understand it, the hours or the requirements.

Many thanks,
Les

Jessie_K

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Re: Are there any AEA SM moms?
« Reply #1 on: Jul 07, 2010, 04:11 am »
I personally do not have any children and have met only a few female SMs with children.  However, I do work with one now.  She has two teenage children and worked as an SM, TD or PM throughout their lives.  She even took them on tour with her.

I asked her how she did all this and she simply said that she did what she needed to do.  Of course it was hard, but parenting is always hard.  She managed to balance being a mom and choosing priorities at work.

If you have kids, your priorities will shift no matter what kind of job you have. 

dallas10086

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Re: Are there any AEA SM moms?
« Reply #2 on: Jul 07, 2010, 08:47 am »
I'm not AEA but I do SM on a regular basis and I'll be the first to tell you it is very hard and takes a lot of juggling from yourself and anyone willing to help you. I have one 2 year old and a husband who works in a field that requires odd and unpredictable hours; right now he's at the age where I can't take him to rehearsals and keep him busy with crayons and a coloring book, so I've had to scale back on the amount of work I can take on outside the usual 9-5. Sitters can be expensive and I can't rely on family to watch him nightly on a regular basis.

But believe me, when he gets old enough he'll be coming with me and he'll learn rehearsal etiquette very quickly! And from my own childhood I've learned kids can sleep anywhere :) If anything he'll have an appreciation for theatre and for my contribution to a production.

nmno

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Re: Are there any AEA SM moms?
« Reply #3 on: Jul 07, 2010, 09:55 am »
It definitely feels like they are few and far between... 
I am not a mom, but my good friend is.  She has a toddler (3 years old now I think) and works as the PSM at a well respected children's theatre (a job she took when she knew she wanted kids but before she had one).  Her position there is definitely more flexible than the previous LORT PSM position she had - she doesn't stage manage as many shows, she has AEA ASMs so typically hands over the call once in performances.  She still makes a decent living. Her husband used to be a TD but now works a 9-5, so he is able to do parent duty on Sat-Sun and evenings without question.  As a children's theatre, she obviously has an understanding work environment when it comes to needing to bring her in to work (although it only happens occasionally).  Grandma came and lived with them from the first year and 1/2.

The other moms I know of work in NY on long term, where I imagine things are made easier by consistent schedules. Or they took a hiatus from SMing during the younger years.  I imagine once they get into school, things are a lot easier.  If hubby works 9-5, you are there in the am (and maybe even when they get home from school) and he's there for eves/weekends.

It's been a while since I've worked out there, but yeah, I can't think of any actively working AEA SM moms in the Bay Area.


hbelden

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Re: Are there any AEA SM moms?
« Reply #4 on: Jul 07, 2010, 11:04 am »
I'm not a mother, but since every household is a two-earner now, my experience is not as dissimilar as it would have been twenty years ago.  I certainly couldn't have made it happen without a solid partner and a group of friends in place for support.  We also found ways to share the chores - my wife didn't mind pumping, so we always had bottles in the fridge and any middle-of-the-night jobs were mine; then she took care of the kid in the morning so I could sleep in.

For babysitters, since we live almost on the USF campus, we've built up a stable of four or five college students who come regularly.  We work out the schedule around their classes; and we tell them that dependability is what we require.  They also work cheaply. 

Also, I've found all the bay area theatres to be extremely child-friendly - I was second ASM for THE KING AND I when my baby was born (four weeks early! really had thought that we'd figured out the schedule) and I had the full support of the theatre and performers when I had to leave at the start of the first day of tech.  N was born during the second day and I was back at work the third day, happy as a lark.

Of course it's hard, but I'm not certain it's harder on SM's than it is for any other person.  Video chats on the computer are a great boon to us working parents.  Also, I get mornings with my daughter almost always, and can often work mornings at her pre-school, which I love.  We get a lot of things that regular 9-5ers never get to see.

Hope this helps.
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jaslada

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Re: Are there any AEA SM moms?
« Reply #5 on: Jul 07, 2010, 11:37 am »
I am not AEA - but I do SM regularly. I am the mother of 3 girls- now ages 29, 27 & 23. I took a break from working in theater about 18 years ago. I was out for about 6 years.  We had relocated south. My husband traveled for his job. It was just too hard to balance our schedules. I ended up working part time for a talk radio station. I was occasionally on the air and even voiced a few commercials. It worked for everyone. I returned to theater when the kids were older...they came to rehearsals..learned all kinds of theater stuff. One went on to earn a BFA in Performance. I will most heartily agree that your priorities do change when you have children- but you can make any situation work. There are always tradeoffs. I remember one "Take Your Child to Work Day" when I was in tech on a show. I took my oldest. She wrote a very funny essay about the process. Her teacher returned it to her with the notation that "theater is not a REAL job"...Yes- the teacher & I had some words- yes the teacher was educated...My daughter learned all kinds of lessons from that experience!

loebtmc

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Re: Are there any AEA SM moms?
« Reply #6 on: Jul 07, 2010, 12:28 pm »
It's a running theme - the SMs I know with kids take them along to rehearsals and techs etc - even put them to work when they get old enough.  Sometimes they relied on backstage crew or actors not on at the time when they had to take care of something NOW, and sometimes they had help from family or partner or fellow SMs who weren't working for 10/12s and other unconscionable situations for (especially younger) kids

Their kids are all theater-savvy now, are not afraid of technical things, are problem solvers, and feel comfortable (even at home) wherever they land. Overall, despite stressful moments for all, it was a good thing

babens

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Re: Are there any AEA SM moms?
« Reply #7 on: Jul 07, 2010, 11:14 pm »
I know that one of the former PSMs for the Broadway production of Cats had her daughter while working on the show, and continued on with the show for several years afterwards, as well as continuing to work as a stage manager on a good number of Broadway shows after leaving Cats.  So while I don't know how she did it, it definitely can be done.

Dice451

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Re: Are there any AEA SM moms?
« Reply #8 on: Jul 08, 2010, 09:09 am »
If you want a child, then go for it.  You'll figure everything else out.  Will it be easy?  Probably not.  Which would you regret more?  Having the child and readjusting your life, or not having a child and realizing later that you should have? 

I'm not AEA, and I SM community theatre about once a year.  Not as rigorous of a schedule as professional theatre, but I wanted to give you my take since I am a mom....I have a 5 year old daughter and I'm pregnant with baby #2.  I stay at home during the day, and rehearsals are generally 3-4 times a week for 2-3 hours.  I stage managed earlier this year--rehearsals were during my 1st trimester, and performances during the 2nd--and I found that "morning sickness" (which I didn't have with my daughter) affected my work.  My energy and stamina were way down also.  I was fortunate that with this show I could sit in the booth, call my own cues and run the light board during the shows.  (Last year I was backstage, helping to move furniture and props on/off stage)  This was one of the easiest shows that I've SM'd, but in some ways, it was the hardest.   Our all day tech was difficult since I was dealing with the tail end of the nausea.  Peanut Butter, which I normally like, is a nausea trigger for me right now....and one of the characters had to eat a PB sandwich.  I couldn't even watch that part of the scene--thank goodness there wasn't a lighting cue there. 

Taking time away from the baby/toddler/young child will be more difficult than when the child is older.  As the child grows he/she will need less constant attention/supervision.  But then the child will get into soccer, dance lessons, etc.  You and your husband need to make sure that you're both willing to give the needed time to the child, whether it's chauffeuring to/from a lesson, or just spending time playing. 

My daughter actually got upset this year when my show ended and I was home more in the evenings....she wanted the one-on-one time with Daddy.  :)

And about the age 35 cutoff....unless there's some specific medical issue with your body that your ob is concerned about, please don't take that as a deadline.  Lots of people have had children past 35....I'll be 37 in October.  (Baby is due in late August)

Bottom line, do what's right for you, and your husband. 

BayAreaSM

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Re: Are there any AEA SM moms?
« Reply #9 on: Jul 08, 2010, 03:11 pm »
Thanks to all of you who have written. I really appreciate your comments and personal stories. As far as my "cut-off age" - my doctor says that more complications can arise and birth defects are more common after passing 35. I just had a close friend have her first child at age 40 - the baby is healthy now, though she was born 1 month premature, and my friend was hospitalized for 1 month before birth and 2 months afterward. Perhaps she is a special case, and everything will be fine for me if I hold off a few more years.

You've all given me something to think about, and I thank you.

Balletdork

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Re: Are there any AEA SM moms?
« Reply #10 on: Jul 09, 2010, 09:55 pm »
I'm in your same boat! And have frequently wondered the same thing. Most of the MOM's in the business seem to transfer into admin or the costume shop when the babies start!

Of course AEA SM's can't bring children to rehearsal; the rules, the rules! 

Finally I'm realizing that my night rehearsal schedule may actually be better than a normal 9 to 5 schedule! The intended Father teaches at the local university (also theater) but he works traditionally 9 to 6ish, and I generally go 4 to 11... which actually only leaves a couple of hours 2 days a week~ better than most traditional family schedules as far as daycare and babysitting. So I figure at least until age 5 and school starts we're actually going to do pretty well! I'll get the full days and Daddy will get the night shift. Of course tech's will be more challenging, but in 3 years we've only been in tech at the same time once! And it was because he was working in my theater!

KIT over this issue- I'm curious how this works for other working SM's!

BayAreaSM

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Re: Are there any AEA SM moms?
« Reply #11 on: Jul 10, 2010, 05:10 am »
Quote
Of course AEA SM's can't bring children to rehearsal; the rules, the rules!

Exactly! That was my big concern as well. Though at one particular Lort Theater I worked for, the actors and actresses were bringing their kids to rehearsal all the time because they could not find/afford sitters. We didn't feel it was a good idea to leave them in the green room unattended, so the kids were in the rehearsal hall, though generally just 1 kid per day. I distinctly recall having a 4 year old on my lap while I tried to give line notes. I guess this theater had kind of grandfathered this activity into it's system, since it had only gone Lort about 1 or 2 seasons prior to my working there.

I may have to hold off for a few years regardless, as my husband is looking to pursue his PhD and I really don't think we can go down to a single earner family, with a reduced income since he'd be studying rather than working. Though I would still love to hear from an AEA SM who did have kids while working. I appreciate Heath's answer, but I really am looking for what the woman went through.

Thank you all!

loebtmc

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Re: Are there any AEA SM moms?
« Reply #12 on: Jul 10, 2010, 10:56 am »
I will see if my friend (who raised 2 daughters working on some pretty decent contracts) will contact you privately (she isn't on this board) - one good thing, she raised girls who aren't afraid technology or non-traditional roles.....


Jill Woodward

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Re: Are there any AEA SM moms?
« Reply #13 on: Jul 10, 2010, 11:05 am »
I'm glad I'm not the only person who has had this concern (though I still have a while to go until I have kids). It's a also a huge relief to see that it is possible, even if it's not easy.

NomieRae

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Re: Are there any AEA SM moms?
« Reply #14 on: Jul 10, 2010, 04:56 pm »
I love this topic as it has been a question I've had for awhile as well as raising a family is also a priority for me. Hope the thread keeps moving forward, can't wait to hear more!
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Tags: parenting