I LOVE my job. It’s not work, it’s “werk”. And it is not lost on me how fortunate I am to have made a career out of something I’ve been passionate about for 93.38% of my life. Just to be clear, I’ve been dancing since I was three so that’s an exact calculation. Even my mind was blown when I sat down and did the math. 31 and ¾’s years is a long ass time to do anything.
With that said, this time of year never gets easier. I spend the offseason (at minimum, all of January) hanging out with Rinn in the evenings. Getting him ready for bed, reading stories, tucking him in, simply being present in his life from dawn till dusk; you know, pretty average parenting stuff. All while listening to him express to me how much he loves having me home at night because one of his favorite hobbies is manipulating my already tender heart.
Then February comes around and with it, a new season. “Goodnight”’s and “see you in the morning”s happen at 6pm when Travis and I leave for the theater and the nights we are able to read legitimate bedtime stories are whittled down to one per week.
Enter ‘parental guilt.’
Where my mind is in a constant battle with itself over whether “I should be home with my son because he’s only small once and he’s definitely going to end up in therapy someday with abandonment issues because I chose dancing over being his mom for four hours every night” and “but you’re setting a good example in that true happiness lies in pursuing your passion; and he keeps putting holes in the knees of his pants pretending to be a transformer in battle and pants aren’t free.”
I’ve been living in that state of mind as of late; wondering if perhaps I should be making more personal sacrifices so that Rinn has a parent at home when parents are typically at home.
It wasn’t until I was putting on my costume for our Elton John set the other evening that I realized that maybe my life is right on track.
On October 11th, 2002 my sister was tragically killed in a car accident. I think most of you know this but it’s not exactly something I lead with when meeting new people. And if you’ve ever asked me if I’m an only child and I responded with a “yes”, please don’t confuse that with lying. For 17 years now I have been an only child; explaining how that wasn’t always the case and discussing my loss is just a little to painful and personal for small talk. I trust you understand.
The Elton John costume I’m speaking of consists of cutoff jean shorts, a windbreaker and a variety of vintage band t-shirts (Bowie, Def Leopard, ACDC, etc.) Add our stage makeup and our uniform fishnets and basically we look like a gang of 80’s groupies. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I dig it. My t-shirt in particular features the late, great Janis Joplin and while it wasn’t Dolly Parton, I was simply content to have a female musician on my chest.
Upon closer examination I noticed the date on the t-shirt: “OCT 11”
Coincidence? Maybe. Chance? Could be.
But in my experience, fate is too often mistaken as fortuity. So I consider this a sign from the universe that I’m exactly where I need to be in this moment. Much like the time I was weighing a job offer while cleaning out my closet and from the shelf fell a suitcase with a luggage tag featuring the show whose contract I was considering. Talk about being hit over the head. Or how our Elf on the Shelf was named “Elvis” four years before Travis even entered our lives. I still think I might be a prophet. The list goes on.
So maybe I need to absolve myself from this perpetual guilt of feeling like I’m short-changing my child. It’s not as if I wake up in the morning thinking “how many ways can I screw up my kid today?” And honestly, he never fails to brag, “my dad is Elvis and my mom dances” and if he had it his way he would be in the audience at every show.
The universe will speak, you just have to be willing to listen.
So maybe this is our path, after all I have a t-shirt to prove it.