This past week I had one of the more infuriating encounters I've had in a while. I was standing among a group of theatre people when a certain actress' name came up in the discussion.
Rather than talk about her recent performances, members in this discussion began to comment on her parenting skills.
"I don't know how she can do a show with her kid at home?", one said.
"Right?!?! It's so selfish. I mean, spend some time with your kid", the other replied.
"I just feel bad for her kid, you know?", another person added.
At this point, I just left the group and walked to the other side of the room. Normally I would have berated these people on the realities of trying to juggle work, family and love of theatre but I would have caused a scene and it wasn't worth it. But it certainly got me thinking.
Now I should mention that this post doesn't apply to those who rely on theatre for their income. This is more related to those who don't, which is what caused this group of morons to condescendingly judge a single parent or parents as a whole.
Having a child can be one of the great joys of your life. But should having kids mean you have to cease participating in your passions and hobbies? Absolutely not. If anything you should keep doing them to show your children how it can positively affect them as well.
As a father of a 3-year-old myself, I fully plan on showing my son how theatre can help his confidence, communication skills, etc. Not to mention seeing the look on his face when he gets to see his first show in person. With everything that having a 3-year old requires, I don't know how single parents do it all, but you know what? They do it and they do it very well. And we should be praising them rather than criticizing them. Society already tends to look down on single parents. As theatre people, we can be better than that.
It's not like they're leaving their kids, cold and alone, starving or wandering the house without supervision for rehearsals. Because that wouldn't be just horrid parenting, it would also be illegal. And no, parent with a thing called, a conscious, would ever do that to their kid. Despite what their involvement in theatre might suggest to idiots like the ones mentioned above.
So to all the single parents out there who still are involved in theatre: keep it up. The fact that you're able to balance everything else in your life and still do theatre is a testament to you, not a negative indictment on your parenting skills.
And if you keep showing your children your passions for things like theatre, I promise, they'll be better because of it.