Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Vicarious living

Although I struggle against it, I feel like I'm living vicariously through my seven-year old daughter, if only just a little. She's a budding actress/model/singer (I say trying very hard not to sound like a typical pretentious stage mother). She does commercials, voice overs, a little catalog modeling and she wants very much to be a famous singer someday.

When I was her age, my favorite activity was listening to records and dancing around my living room. My second favorite activity was singing while my mom accompanied me on the piano. I went to theater camp during the summers for ten years and by my senior year of high school, I was taking dance lessons seven days a week. I did everything - ballet, jazz, tap, modern - you name it. I loved dancing (and singing and acting) but ultimately, I dropped out - maybe I was too scared of rejection to keep going, maybe I realized that I just wasn't good enough (by what standards, I'm not sure).

After college, I went to New York to work in the entertainment business - I guess I figured that I could at least be near what I loved, even if I wasn't going to be a performer. I worked at a talent agency, then for a commercial production company and finally for a small television production company. Eventually I decided to go to law school and get a "real" job. What I really wanted to do at that point was be a movie producer but, again, fear won out and I went with what I knew - my dad was a lawyer, half my high school graduating class went to law school. Besides, I hate math so I figured business school was out of the question. (There's that fear-based decision-making again).

Fast forward many years and here I am with a talented daughter. Although it may be hard to believe, from the time she was about two years old, she'd point to children on tv and ask us when she would get to be on tv. She'd point to kids in magazines and ask when she'd get to be in magazines. We were hesitant at first. It's a lot of work schlepping around to auditions and we figured it was a huge longshot for her to get any work out of it anyway. Making money isn't the reason to do it but it's expensive and time consuming and it's nice to get something out of it.

Finally, when she was about five and she still really wanted to do it, we took her to see an agent who agreed to represent her. It was slow going at first but things really ramped up this year and she's been working and auditioning a lot. She recently filmed her first national tv commercial - the holy grail of commercial work. One good national commercial that is played a fair amount can go a long way to paying for a college education.

So now we get to the part about me living vicariously through her. She has an opportunity to audition for the Asian tour of Sound of Music. When I found out, I was really excited about the thought of her getting to tour Asia and while getting paid, no less. My husband, always the voice of reason, pointed out that we needed to ask her first if she even wanted to audition. He was right, of course. If she wants to stay home and have a "normal" third-grade experience, that's ok. It wouldn't be the end of her career and it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

But I was disappointed at the thought that she might not want to do it. That's when I had to face the fact that this is her life, not mine and although I can encourage her to do things that I think would be exciting, she may come to different conclusions. And that's ok. I don't think I'm the only mother to do a little vicarious living. I know my own mother did it (and probably still does, a little). It's human nature. The important thing is for me to foster my own identity and interests. Just because I'm (gasp) 40 years old, doesn't mean that I can't return to my creative roots in some way. I may not be able to tap dance like I used to, but I can write and I can do other things that satisfy my urge to be creative. Hopefully it will help me keep my vicarious living in check.

1 comment:

Big D said...

Why don't you and I take a dance class together after the new year? Will that partially satisfy your urge to be creative? Just keep the laughing to a minimum and let me lead!