The other day I was walking down the street, and I saw a father and son ahead of me. The boy couldn't have been more than two-years-old. He was holding his dad's hand while quickly stepping and bouncing over cracks in the sidewalk. He giggled and shrieked as kids of that age will do.
Walking behind them, I thought about my son. I wondered if I had spent enough time with him when he was that age.
And then I started to cry because I don't know that I did.
My full-time job requires a lot of travel. It's not uncommon for me to spend around 100 days away from home in a given year. That's 100 days not getting to hang out with him, 100 days not seeing him grow, 100 nights not getting to tuck him in and tell him a bedtime story.
Knowing that, brings a lot of pain. But what keeps that pain at bay is knowing that what I'm doing, my job, is providing for him. As honest or delusional as that thought might be, it's what get me through it. I'm sure(hopeful) that an 18-year-old understands that, but not a four-year-old. Nor should they have to.
I imagine my feelings are the same for performers, crew members, designers, etc. Whether it's working eight shows a week, out-of-town tryouts, national tours, late night tech rehearsals, that's a lot of time away from families. A lot of bedtime stories they don't get to read.
While they might love what they do on stage or behind it, I'm positive that some wouldn't hesitate to give it up to spend more time at home. Or wonder if it was all worth it for so much time missed.
This thought is why I'll never criticize an actor for skipping the stage-door. Maybe they just want to get home to get rest in order to be a present-parent the next morning. I'll also never say that seeing a particular show was a waste of my time because I know what was entertainment for me, was a job and time spent away from home for others. Poo-pooing on that is insulting.
So here's a thank you to all the theatrical artists that spend so much time away from their loved ones to provide a couple hours of entertainment for the rest of us. And a big thank you to their families for lending them to us for a little while.