Cowan Palace: The Show Must Go On (And One Woman’s Quest To Have It All)

Ashley’s back to balancing.

I’ve never really considered myself to be a triple threat. But I’ve always wanted to claim that title. I’m an actor. Who can sing. Who likes to dance (but who maybe should think twice before doing it in public… let alone an audience). But despite my lack of threatening skills I’ve always had big dreams that somehow, someway, I get myself to Broadway. Or Bollywood.

For now, I’m here in The Bay Area and redefining my idea of a “triple threat”. I’m a new mom. Who has just gone back to work. Who is returning to performing in her first show in almost two years.

And I got to tell you, it hasn’t been easy. Honestly, it’s all felt quite heavy and at times, endlessly difficult. But, yet, I still still want to be a triple threat. I still want to have it all!

And I guess I’ve always had that mindset. Back when I was a kid, my mom struggled with the decision to return to work after having my brother, her third and final baby. As the stubborn oldest child that I am, I told her she had to go back to work. Because she was good at her job and it was what made her my mom.

When I cried to my mom asking if she thought my own daughter would resent me for going back to work she reminded me of how insistent I had been when she was trying to figure things out. And how much child Ashley needed to believe that women really could manage a family and a professional life and a personal life. That “having it all” was completely doable.

Ashley Cowan, seriously contemplating if her dance skills will ever get better than “can sort of complete a Zumba class

Ashley Cowan, seriously contemplating if her dance skills will ever get better than “can sort of complete a Zumba class

Yikes. What a boring, weird kid. Thank goodness I’ve grown into such an interesting, normal adult, right?

Though, I do want to “have it all”. Even though I don’t know what that even means.

I returned to work in part because I didn’t really have a choice. You know how expensive San Francisco is. In order to continue living here, Mama had to get back to earning some bucks. I also really like my job. I love my coworkers, I love using my brain in different non diaper related ways, I love having adult conversations, and so on. But, oh dear God, leaving my kiddo to return back may have been the hardest thing I’ve had to do.

And we’ve got a pretty good setup! Scarlett is with an amazing nanny that watches her alongside another sweet baby three days a week while Will watches her Thursdays and Fridays and I cover the weekends while he works. No, we don’t all get a full day off to enjoy together. And yes, I had to excuse myself to cry a little in the work bathroom when I learned Scarlett had rolled over for the first time and I wasn’t there to witness it. But for now, we’re making it work. And our latest theatrical adventure is a play Will and I are both in and our cast has kindly agreed to have rehearsal at our apartment so we don’t have to find a babysitter. Honestly, in my quest to have it all, I definitely lucked out with some of this stuff.

Our first rehearsal as a family! Watch us try and make this work!

Our first rehearsal as a family! Watch us try and make this work!

And yet, the pursuit of trying to be a triple threat is hard. It’s so fucking hard, guys. I’m tired, I’m emotional, I’m everything all at once and fighting to be more. But the show goes on. It has to keep going.

Plus, I still want to do all the things! I want to be the best mom! I want to do well at my job! I want to keep performing! I want to keep getting better at dancing! I want to use a lot of exclamations in my blog!

Striving to be a triple threat is okay, I guess. But learning to forgive myself for not always being the best at it all seems like the real lesson. Sometimes it’s okay to just be a single threat with a thrift store Mary Poppins’ bag of tricks.

Ugh, I don’t know, guys. Stuff is so hard all the time, you know?

Did that Mom just come from a dance class? She looks like she’s working pretty hard.” “Nah, I’m pretty sure she’s just drinking.

Did that Mom just come from a dance class? She looks like she’s working pretty hard.” “Nah, I’m pretty sure she’s just drinking.

Day by day. Breath by breath. That’s kind of how I’m living at the moment. In the meantime, I’ll still keep taking Zumba classes at the gym and waiting for my big Bollywood break.

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