Allison Page contemplates theater babies.
There’s not much I’m afraid of – sure, I don’t enjoy flying very much, I tend to avoid strange men on the sidewalk after midnight, and I don’t often play with needles I’ve found on the ground – but for the most part I’m ready for a lot of life’s challenges…except for arguably the most ‘natural’ of those, if you’re a lady – MAKIN’ THOSE BABIES.
I went back home for a wedding recently, and the topic turned to child bearing.
Some Girl: I mean, I want to have kids, but it HAS to be before I’m 30. I mean, I don’t want to be like an old mom.
Allison: I’m 29.
Some Girl: Well…you know what I mean.
Naturally, the gears start turning and I think, “She’s right! I have to make a decision about this! This baby cave in my guts is not going to be functional forever!” – but that kicks off so many other thoughts. My life is extremely hectic. Often times I leave for work at 9:30am and don’t return (except maybe to change clothes) until after midnight. I run from work, to a rehearsal, to a writers’ meeting, to a show on a fairly regular basis. What happens to my careers? That must sound so selfish, I realize that. And then that thought leads to “Well if I’m that selfish, I just shouldn’t even have the little buggers!” which leads to “But…what if it’s the best choice I can possibly make? What if, like people say, it’s the best thing I ever do?” which leads to “I suppose I could still write if I had a/some kid/s, but would I have to give up performing?” which leads to “Well, I have friends who are actors and have kids and they’re still at it,” Which leads to “ Yeah, but they perform significantly less frequently now.”
And about the time that I was falling down the rabbit hole, I found out that my sister-in-law is pregnant. My brother is having a kid. This is not something I ever imagined. Then I realized…oh God, I’m going to be an AUNT! What do aunts have to do? I’m so far away! They’ll probably send it here to hang out with me for a week when it’s 7 and I won’t know what to do with it! It’ll go home swearing and talking about terrible things that I accidentally let slip! It’ll burn down their house when it gets back! OH GOD, I’M CALLING IT, “IT”! That’s terrible! And then I realized I’m Auntie Mame. I am, aren’t I? I don’t even like musicals! How did I become Auntie Mame?! Wait…Auntie Mame is pretty cool right? I’d hang out with her. It doesn’t matter – the point is, either way, the topic keeps being brought to the forefront.
When I was a kid, my best friend was the girl who lived next door to me, just down the country, dirt road. Our whole lives I was always falling desperately in love with someone or other. I’ve always been too romantic for my own good. She was very focused on her studies and turned down every guy who even looked in her direction. It was pretty common for our group of friends to say that I’d be the first to get married, the first to have kids – all the sentimental stuff, while they would be busy achieving something or other. So imagine my surprise when one day she meets a guy, marries him, and they have a son. It all happened so quickly. In fact, at her wedding, I was dumped in a text message so I got drunk, danced with every man in the room and left. So while she was doing the most adult thing ever, making a commitment to a man for the rest of her life – I was doing a drunken interpretive dance to Katy Perry’s Hot ‘n Cold while everyone in the room watched. And now, just like my sister-in-law, she’s pregnant! AGAIN! I’m beginning to feel like everyone thinks I’m delaying my adulthood just to be a self-centered actor. I’m not even going to say that they’re wrong. Because, really, who knows? What I DO know is that children terrify me. I don’t know how to talk to them, I’m scared I’ll say something sarcastic that they won’t understand and they’ll think I’m serious and they’ll freak out. I guess I’ve probably held a baby, like…once. What if I have no maternal instinct? What if I’m just a horrible monster?! Cut to me sitting at a bar a couple of months ago, when the topic turns to offspring…
Allison: I really don’t know whether or not I want to have kids, I’m up and down about it all the time.
Allison’s Friend, to the group at large: OMG can you imagine Allison having children?!?!
So apparently I’m not the only one who isn’t sure I can do it. I change my mind about it every day. I flip flop over the subject, turning it around in my mind, trying to see if there’s anything there I haven’t thought about yet. But I still just don’t know. What if I’m not cut out for it? What if my selfish desire to make people laugh, or make people think by being part of some moving piece of theatrical art isn’t best for some…tiny human being? Will I just give that up and let it go? Will that make me bitter? Or will I be bitter if I’m 70 and there’s no one to carry on my legacy…if I ever had one? More importantly – when will I be able to afford an apartment with an actual bedroom in it?
Performers with or without offspring – please feel free elaborate on your own feelings about this adorable, tiny-faced topic.
You can catch Allison tomorrow (Thursday, September 26th) at Booksmith in the Haight as part of Shipwreck, for which she has written something filthy that children should never hear.