Stepping Into the Spotlight
My children just finished a run in a very dramatic, NSF-anyone production in the big city. We commuted via the BART. We deftly navigated the Market Street nonsense. And let's be clear - there is a LOT of nonsense on Market Street. And the kids fully embraced their small, but crucial roles in the play. As the curtain closed on their time in the spotlight this Mother's Day, I couldn't help but reflect upon how the stage mimics reality when it comes to moms.
Mothers do so much. They care for the home and all of its occupants. Even the plants and pets as applicable. They feed and clean, nurture and guide, play and work. And many do all of those things while also holding down a job outside of the home, earning a living, maybe even serving as the sole legitimate source of income for their families. But very few moms live in a world where they are regularly thanked for their contribution. Or acknowledged for their value. The days just go by, and life proceeds as normal, and meals are served and bills are paid and backpacks are packed and toilet paper is refilled. Moms are like the lighting crew for a stage production. Always there, making adjustments great and small so that the actors on stage can focus on being awesome. Lighting designers are literally paid to make the people on stage look their best. They are quietly in the wings, always at the ready, to make it work no matter what. And the show proceeds and the audience cheers and no one ever says "WOW - that actor was SO lucky to have an amazing lighting designer!!" And I'm sure it is few actors who reach out and thank that designer for their efforts. Lighting designers and moms - the unsung heroes among us, each and every day and night.
But when something does go wrong, in life or on the stage, everyone turns in one direction. Kids aren't clean. They must have a terrible mother who lets them out of the house like that. Lunch not packed - must be the mother. Lost jacket, unfinished homework, bullying behaviors, terrible reading skills - all the failings of a mom. A mom who was previously completely invisible suddenly becomes the almighty, overwhelming force for evil in the household. They can do 99% of everything right, but only get noticed for the 1% that is not up to par. How is that even remotely fair? On stage if the main actor screws up, there is still a bit of hedging.....the audience didn't get it, the staging was off, the lighting was too dark. The actor can always depend on their crew to take some of the blame. And the same in families. Moms absorb much of the blame for whatever is not up to the standards of whomever is watching. Not fair. Not even close.
Mother's Day is at least an opportunity for everyone to see moms in a new light. Like the lights at center stage. Instead of moms being the backdrop for family life and all things, moms are finally the stars. It is just one day, though I am confident that many moms, myself included, enjoy the spotlight regularly as our family accepts the gravity of our station in the home. If moms could be in the spotlight a bit more, people wouldn't have a choice but to watch us and see us and tally our hard work. We would not be ignored. They would listen to our words and experience our emotions. They would allow us to explore and do, and give us the back up (the lighting designers and the set crew) to do so. They would applaud us for our efforts. And be there when we make a mistake.
I am so proud of my little people for stepping into the light. I think most moms enjoy standing in the wings, watching their efforts soar in real time. Being in the wings is not a punishment, but a privilege. Moms understand more than anyone else that when our kids and our efforts shine in the spotlight, it is a reflection of what we work hard for every day. Not being in the spotlight is not an insult. It is an honor. I will gladly enjoy a Mother's Day every so often, to have others look at me and give me a little credit for what I'm trying to do. I'll enjoy the spotlight and the thanks and the accolades. And then when tomorrow comes, I'll get back in the wings, doing what I do, to make the actors in my life look their best. Moms don't need the spotlight. But it sure does feel nice.