Saturday, 26 July 2014
"... Whilst I can't compare the work of Ionesco or Berkoff to my daily struggles to retrieve a plastic Upsy-Daisy from Yellow Robot Money Box's bottom, I certainly appreciate parenthood's daily Theatre of the Absurd."
They say that nothing prepares you for motherhood, well 'they' are right. The sleep deprived, emotional roller-coaster that is early parenthood is extraordinary. It stretches you to breaking point, thrills you more than any promotion or career success and can have you sobbing into your washing pile at the drop of a hat, or more accurately the splat of the Weetabix blob on your clean-on-this-morning jeans.
I have found myself, however, finding my past incarnation as a producer helpful. Whilst managing a small crew in a studio or on location was, in hindsight, a breeze compared to feeding, dressing and wrestling a highly strung toddler out of the house to get to playgroup, play-date or GP appointment on time, it's not a million miles from it.
In charge of a budget I was often asked by a heat exhausted and volatile crew "Is it time for lunch yet?" "Can we stop for ice-cream" or "Can't we expense ONE more bottle of wine." The last one doesn't apply to my two year old of course but you get the gist. Managing a production team can be like looking after a petulant child; it requires you to have tact, diplomacy, empathy and command some degree of authority to get the best results.
Going back further, my degree in Drama and Theatre Arts has proved invaluable. Not since attending Goldsmiths College back in 1993 have I been required to sing in public, do funny voices or pretend to be a tree. OK, the tree thing never happened (it's never happened on any drama course anywhere in the world, probably) but that's what people assume you do when you study drama so I thought I'd throw that one in.
Inhibitions and parenthood are not good bed-fellows so don't be shy; sit crossed legged on the floor and warble "The Wheels on the Bus" as if your life depended on it, eventually you'll grow to love it. I promise. I can't promise the same about the awful "Bobbin" song however, I'll say no more.
There are also parallels with student life and new-parenthood. As a student I'd often be sleep deprived (due to late night drinking rather than late night breastfeeding), would often crash out with my clothes on and very rarely got on top of my dirty washing pile. Tick, tick, tick.
Theatrical surrealism and new motherhood also go hand in hand and whilst I can't compare the work of Ionesco or Berkoff to my daily struggles to retrieve a plastic Upsy-Daisy from Yellow Robot Money Box's bottom, I certainly appreciate parenthood's daily Theatre of the Absurd.
So on day's when you're knee deep in nappies thinking, why did I bother to get a degree, fine art diploma, career - just get out the Play-Doh and have some fun with your little monster. What raising a child teaches you will make you a better employee when and if you choose to re-join the 'work force', the multi-tasking skills alone will make your new parent-self invincible. Just remember to check for those tell-tale baby-food stains before you leave the house.
'Stay-at-home', 'Part-time' or 'Working', all that you are, all that you have been and all that you will be is going to help shape your little one into the amazing individual they're going to be. Nothing is ever wasted, and neither will you be.