Part 1: The Wife’s Perspective
Once there was a wonderful day. I was sitting in my kitchen, feeding my adorable baby adorable organic apples and spelt out of adorable recyclable jars made from other recycled jars. My phone rings, and I discover that my voice has been cast in a national television commercial about butter, and I’m going to need to call the SAG office in Chicago to find out about my status so I can make sure I get paid what will surely be mountains and mountains of butter money. Babies! SAG office! National Commercial! Spelt! Why I’ve finally arrived. I’m gonna make it after all! (Twirls in street, throws hat, gets hit by cop on Segway.)
Then there was that other day. One more child added to the mix, largish hill (whose mountain status was downgraded by Hugh Grant) of butter money long gone, and I am at the agency reading one line about, what, deli ham? Corrugated financial solutions? Babysitter money gave out in Gurnsey, so I’ve got both kids with me. My now somewhat less adorable preschooler is on the floor of the lobby eating a non-organic happy meal made from recycled cow feet. Child number two, who has chosen today to cling to my bosom like a traumatized koala, is in the sound booth with me.
Agent: “Whenever you’re ready.”
Me: “Why can’t my financial solutions be more corrugated-“
Agent: “Hang on. What’s that sound?”
Me: “I think I bumped the microphone.”
Agent: “No, that’s not it. It’s like a rustling or a munching.”
Me: (Bumps microphone) “Like that? That sound? Yeah, I just bumped the microphone.”
Agent: “No, it sounds more like a toddler eating soundproofing foam.”
Me: “What? No. What?”
Agent: “Like, a lot of soundproofing foam.”
Me: “You’re not going to call me again, are you?”
Agent: “Pretty much no.”
(Shoves children out door, drops hat in snow bank, gets dizzy and has to sit down.)
So what are the perils and pitfalls, the joys and wonders of being a two-actor family with young children?
Well, for starters, this is supposed to be a “joint” piece written by my husband and me. I’m standing at the kitchen counter in my pajamas trying to type quietly so no one realizes I’m on the computer and barges in demanding to watch “Fuzzy, Fuzzy, Cute, Cute.” Caleb, my husband, is in a hotel somewhere teaching a group of corrugated financial solution representatives how improvisation will change their lives (AND IT WILL!!!!) He’s writing his part on his breaks. I’ll be writing my part while the kids are building a blanket fort or chasing rainbows or tuning up the lawnmower or whatever. Then, tonight, after the children are fast asleep in their beds we will sit down over a cup of Ovaltine and try to cram both pieces together into something cohesive.
Now, I haven’t spoken with my husband lately, but I suspect our versions of “what do you have to do to make ends meet” (which, by the way, until recently I thought was “make ends meat”- like you know, you only make enough money to afford ends meat- presumably the stuff left over after the monocle-wearing set have departed the butchery) will be very different. He is working his ass off, traveling all over the country (and not the good parts) doing whatever he has to do to keep us in fancy preschools and Crocs. Meanwhile, I recently quit all of my “extra theatre jobs” because, as it turns out, after paying the sitter I was basically breaking even. Kind of. Oh, and also I was super bad at everything I was doing.
Once, a friend of mine who had a young child was asked by some random lady, “So do you work?” Her answer was basically that she was going to stay home full time and work as much as possible. Response? “Oh, so you mean you’re going to be bad at everything?” What a B U Next Tuesday. Guess what? It turns out that bunt was totally right. I am that bunt now. Apparently we can have it all, but we’re probably going to be pretty lousy at most of it.
My biggest challenge seems to be that I’ve got too much work. I’m just too popular and in demand! (Adjusts tiara, shines diamond shoes.) But really, it’s a problem. I come from hearty, Midwestern stock, and my motto has always been “If someone will pay you money to do anything remotely related to your career, do it quick before they find someone else.” It’s not a great motto.
You want me to teach inner city dogs to express themselves through slam poetry? Sure. Dress up like a taco at the boat show and hand out racist literature? Absolutely. (Because it’s the taco that’s racist, not me.) And since I have been dividing my time between work and these children I have noticed a marked decline in my ability to give those random, one-off jobs my all. “Did that racist taco seem like she was just phoning it in to you?”
Therefore, as we slide haphazardly into year five of “Parents Who Are Also Actors: The Interactive Socially Conscious Puppet Musical!!” I have decided that I will not take every job offered me so I can focus on raising these children and doing my one, sort of full-time job that I am super lucky to have and for which I am eternally thankful on a daily basis, and which is, by the way, for a company run by supremely intelligent, generous, and attractive humans who also smell good. (And who apparently haven’t yet noticed my aforementioned impaired job performance. Until now. Crap.)
But seriously you guys, my work/life/existence deal is pretty awesome. I can’t really complain (well, I can complain, and I will, but just because there’s nothing good on TV). I get to spend lots of time with my kids who, despite their constant needs, are keepers. I’m rollin’ in a GRAND Caravan (That’s an extra foot of storage space in the back, yo). When I do go to work it’s with my awesome husband for an awesome comedy theatre filled with awesome people doing awesome stuff that is fun and ridiculous and vitally important. And if every once in a while I have to dress up as Sacajawea and sell maize chips at Cub, that’s not the worst thing in the world. It’s not like I’m working at Blockbuster.
As far as “getting by” goes, I think we do what everybody else in the world does- what we have to when we have to and hope that it’s mostly stuff that doesn’t suck too bad or leave permanent scars on the children. Now if you’ll excuse me, it appears someone has pooped on the Slip N’ Slide. Good day to you.
(And yes, I do realize that I just wrote an entire article about being a married couple and only mentioned my husband like three times. Apt. APT!!!!!)
Part II: The Husband’s Perspective
Once there was a wonderful day when I was able to spend time within the walls of my home. Then, I became the artistic director of a self-funding theatrical institution. I am told I have children, and that they resemble how my wife remembers me to look. My days are filled with all the adventure that comes from extemporaneously mining all the humor that incentivized wellness management and other such topics have to offer. I would tell you more, but I have to find out why I received this bill for acoustical foam.