Friday, October 09, 2009

Shakespeare of Moms -- by Robin

Just have to quickly share (for those who have been waiting on pins 'n needles)....our basement passed final inspection this week. What a huge relief!

Moving on.....I had an interesting experience two nights ago. At the suggestion of a writer friend, I signed up for an acting class through my local adult ed program. She thought it might be beneficialbecause I aspire to write a play, and she has written some in the past and is working on others, and has found it helpful with dialogue, understanding what makes good theatre, etc.

The class began this week, and there are 14 of us, all ages, backgrounds and varied levels of dramatic experience. The instructor quickly asked each of us if we've taken acting and when. I was readily brought back to my college days. I attended Hofstra University (undergrad), and was a French minor. One of the classes I took and loved was a French drama class where I actually performed a scene entirely in French. I was so proud of myself at the time, and it was such a challenge. To this day, I fondly recall the experience and the satisfaction I got from it.

This week in the class, she started out with a variety of exercises in an attempt to get us comfortable in our own skin. Each of us was asked to stand for one minute in the room, to be observed by others, and to do nothing. Not smile. Not react. Not move. Not make eye contact with anyone. Do absolutely nothing.

For many, doing nothing was one of the hardest things they've had to do. I wasn't sure how it would feel for me. When I did it, I felt like I was blinking because my eyes were tired. I fixated on a particular poster in the room and tried to meditate so I wouldn't dwell on the fact that I was the focal point of the other students. I was afraid I'd feel overly self-conscious. It was a seemingly long minute.

After the exercise, we gathered in groups of four to share what we observed about each other. And, not one person said I blinked. I was surprised. And, they said I wasn't overly rigid, didn't rock, or do anything I had been concerned about.

This was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me.

It's so easy to judge yourself and reach conclusions about how you're perceived that may be far from the truth. And, especially if it's something that makes you feel somewhat insecure or challenged, the feelings can be all the stronger. While I'm a Leo, and sometimes enjoy attention, other times, I prefer not to be the focal point.

Imagine how as mothers it's so easy to pass self judgment. We have high expectations for our performance, yet, if you're a new mom or have one child, we have had no prior training.

The acting teacher spoke of our working on scenes for our next class, and that for those without acting experience, she'd recommend a scene close to us as people versus a Shakespeare. This made sense. Either way, we'll be stretching ourselves, and those who are so motivated, can work their way up to Shakespeare.

For me, that is not an aspiration. And, surprisingly, it made me aware that I don't need to strive to be the Shakespeare of moms either. While I embrace my role as a mom, it's certainly not always easy. But, what in life is? So, why does it make sense not to take on a big acting role right away (with no formal training), yet as a mom, we want to be at the peak of performance?!

It's ok to aim high...and we should...but we're human. We deserve to cut ourselves some slack.

Stellar Shakespearean actors aren't born in a day. And, the same holds true for us moms.

PS -- Take a listen to my interview re: later in life parenting!

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