The past two weeks were tough. You went to Chicago with your Daddy to celebrate your Pappy’s 70th birthday. I stayed in Los Angeles to work. When you came back I was in prep for a shoot, which meant that instead of compensating for our time away from one another, when you returned there was even more time apart. I wasn’t there to put you to bed. We missed our usual dinners together. And your Daddy was a superhero and did all the preschool pick ups instead of me.
You did not like this. You threw a couple of fits of Hulk-ish proportions. But mostly, you looked sad and clung to me when I was actually around. And while I enjoyed the extra snuggles, they settled like shrapnel in my heart knowing that they were rooted in feeling like your Mama wasn’t there for you.
But there’s something you need to know. I am a reluctant villain. It’s just as difficult for me to be apart from you as it is for you to be away from me. When people used to ask what superpower I wanted, my answer was always telepathy. It’s part of why I became an actress…I finally got to decide exactly what was going on inside a character’s head! These days, though, I’d love the ability to create a clone of myself. That way Tamara #1 could be interviewing Captain America on the red carpet while Tamara #2 was helping you pick out your PJs, reading you your Sesame Street comic book and answering your questions about why Oscar likes smelly socks. Unfortunately, my superpowers are somewhat limited at this point and I haven’t yet quite figured out how to be in two places at once (paging Stan Lee…).
Even though it’s a challenge, I need to do these things. To commit to the work that I do, to connect with the artistic part of myself that I (mostly) put on hold for the first three years of your life. It’s important because it makes me happy, and because I want to be a good example for you. I want you to grow up strong and independent and passionate about what you do, whether that’s your profession or an avocation or raising a family. The best way I know how to teach you this is by attempting to model that behavior to the best of my abilities.
Another confession: I’m still figuring it out. This career/life balance thing is very much a work in progress. Sometimes the pendulum swings too far in one direction, only to come back too far the other way. Sometimes I’m out of the house too many nights in a row. Sometimes I need to get out of the house more. I hope you can have some patience with me as I experiment. It’s the only way I’ll be able to find my way to achieving balance.
Most people have an image of what they think they want both their family and professional lives to look like. But what I am learning is that until you are in the thick of it, you just don’t know. Baby or Career Success arrives on your doorstep, and all preconceptions go out the window. The person who always wanted to be a regular on a TV show probably never gave a thought to the fact that achieving this means they will rarely be home for supper with their kiddo. Someone who thought they’d happily pass up doing a play so they could be SuperParent and spend weekends taking their kids to soccer practice or dance class may realize they’d rather be at rehearsal than playing chauffeur. Some people think they’d never be the type to have a nanny. Others think they’d never be the type not to have a nanny. You just don’t know until you’re in it. Even Thor had some unexpected reactions to the idea of becoming a king (that’s all I’ll say…no spoilers).
Whatever pictures you create for yourself, I hope that as you go through the different phases of your life you can let go of judgment and instead lean in to whatever your experience is. Try to pay less attention to the way you thought it was supposed to go, and instead focus on what’s happening in your heart and your gut. Ask yourself the hard questions about what is making you happy, now, today, and how the ways you spend your days support or detract from that. There will always be practical considerations, but if you can connect on a deeper level with the answers to the bigger questions, they’ll provide some guidance for the nuts-and-bolts decisions you have to make.
And of course, if you can figure out how to freeze time, that might take care of some of these balance issues…no pressure though…