Being and artist and a parent

At Babz’ memorial service a couple of weeks ago, it was mentioned many, many times how, “her kids were her life.” Babz had three children: Aviv, Orpheo and Jordana, and I think, at times, their lives were a little crazy. Babz was a singer with a band, and her kids went with her.

Babz' family at the memorial service. Wendy D photo

It started me thinking about those of us that choose to be artists and parents. What we sacrifice for our kids, and what we can’t…

I have a deep admiration for Christine Willes. I first worked with this talented actress a few years back when she directed a production of Metamorphoses that took place at Pacific Theatre. I was very happy to hear that Christine is going to be in a production that I am doing publicity for that opens Friday at the PTC Studio: Herr Beckmann’s People. When I first met Christine, I was adjusting to my new status as a single parent, and we had some really great conversations about parenting solo and being an artist. Christine made the choice to continue in the arts and to raise her two children. And she did it–by securing quirky character roles in cult series like Dead Like Me and Reaper. Her kids are now grown, but she is a real inspiration.

I am also very inspired by Rachael Chatoor, someone that I met through Babz, but have become friends with on another, deeper level. Rachael is a singer, performer and mother of two children, 6 and 10. Rachael says:

Rachael Chatoor

My life changed when I had a child because I was no longer living for myself.

I did sacrifice for a few years, and as my children grew as I spent every waking moment seeing to them, but later, I learned that I could honour them best by also living my best, most creative life, by chasing my own dreams and leading by example. I do feel that we may sacrifice too much when we only live to serve our children. If we don’t stop doing this then once they are grown and are out on their own, they will wonder “Why isn’t the world serving me”? and they may not be fully able to chase their dreams. If they are never left alone to fill their own time you rob them of the need to create, they just sit there waiting to be told what to do.

How does she manage as a single parent who is out gigging on weekend nights?
I have a great village, there is one free room in my house and I have given it away to a room mate who exchanges child care for it. I also am lucky to have lots of family who will take the kids if I have out of town shows.
For a slightly different (ie: male!) perspective, I talked to my old friend Bart Anderson. Bart is an instructor in the acting program at VFS, and will star with his old Ryerson buddy, Eric McCormack, in Glengarry Glen Ross at the Arts Club opening July 22. He is also dad to Louisa, and his wife, Hillary, who also works at VFS, is pregnant with their second child. Congratulations, Bart and Hillary!
Here’s what Bart says about parenthood and being an actor:
Life has changed dramatically since Louisa was born… to the degree that I’ve forgotten almost all of it!! Gone are those Friday nights home alone, exfoliating, snackin’ on Doritos, watching a movie and wondering when I’d meet that special gal. My life was ready for an overhaul and I welcomed all of it!!
The struggle to keep alive, financially has amplified, and the focus quickly shifted to creating stability (or the illusion anyway). And the love… there is so much joy and love in my life. That changed how I see it all: a bit more compassion and clarity of purpose.
I don’t do as much of the non-paying work I used to before having a family. I would get involved in things knowing there was no money, for all the reasons we do as actors. I’m more selective now. I love collaborating with friends and the students at VFS, I do these kinds of projects when there is time. Hilary is an actor, director and works in wardrobe as well. and we make sure we continue to do projects we feel passionate about.
How do they juggle childcare? Creatively!
We have Louisa in daycare Monday to Wednesday. Hilary has Thursday off, and I get Friday  off from VFS… we have our weekends and our weeknights to play!!
It can be tough being an artist and having kids. But every single person I spoke to echoed the same sentiment: it’s worth it.
How about you? For those of you out there that pursue an artistic life and have kids, how do you manage it? What have you sacrificed? Do you have regrets?

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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

Comments 2

  1. Serendipity…I just made a big artistic and parenting this week about how to parent (I am single but co-parent with my child’s father) and keep being an active theatre artist.

    The last four years, I pursued gigs that were easier to manage: teaching on the side, small roles in even smaller projects, and I was okay, but missing something.

    This year, my brand new theatre company launched it’s first full-length production which I produced and in which I held the lead. It was a big (and sometimes, in my head, overwhelming) project. But it made me infinitely happy in all the ways that artists can describe and not describe.

    The thought of letting go of that because I couldn’t figure out how to keep it going as a single parent (or any parent, for that matter) was breaking my heart detrimentally. So, after some tears, conversations, and, above all, the support of the people around me, I’m going to keep going as both an artist and a mother, full steam ahead.

    I believe it boils down to two really essential elements for all artists, and humans: 1 – if your passion makes you happy then you have to pursue it or your happiness will always be incomplete, 2 – you need a community to support you because just as we can’t parent alone, we can’t be parenting artists alone.

  2. I don’t have children yet but the knowledge that someday I will worries me. Will I have enough money to support them, and myself, while I pursue my dreams? Will I have enough energy? Or time?

    I appreciate you writing about this side of things. I really like the quote, “I could honour them best by also living my best, most creative life, by chasing my own dreams and leading by example.” Very true.

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