I found out I was pregnant with my first child in the bathroom stall at New World Stages (I was understudying Molly Ringwald in an Off-Broadway play). On our first ten minute rehearsal break, I rushed to the bathroom to pee on a stick I had bought on the way to the theatre. I squealed aloud at the shock of the double pink line and did an impressive solo happy dance in the stall. Unable to contain myself, I called my sweet, curly haired husband - collect. I told the operator the call was from, "Your Baby." I thought I was so clever! My husband didn't get it. I had to scream over the operator, "Get it? Get it? YOUR baby ... YOUR BABY!" - until he finally accepted the charges. I could hear his smile through the phone. It was the best phone call of my life.
Eventually my costume stopped fitting, so I borrowed Molly's maternity clothes and retreated to my UWS haven to plant hydrangeas in our window boxes and drink insane amounts of apple juice.
When the baby came, I was floored to discover a brand new emotion in the world. Loving a new baby should have its own word. It's love beyond love. The birth of my child seemed to negate the negative in the universe. What could be so bad, if this joy exists?
The newborn phase, eternal in the moment, passed so quickly in retrospect. Before I knew it, the grind of breakfast dishes and never-ending laundry replaced the bliss of infancy. The awe of actually being a parent, morphed into the reality of the lunacy of it all. The hilarity of my child thinking the Chinese restaurant on the corner belonged to a lady named Chiney ("Where's Chiney?" he asked. "Isn't this Chiney's restaurant?") was juxtaposed with the intensity of dropping him off at preschool for the first time . In this combination of the humor and heart of motherhood, I discovered a muse: parenthood itself.
Though I had consciously taken a break from my life in the theatre to be a stay-at-home mom, I now found that my mommy-hood was fueling my creative self . During nap time, I started jotting down ideas for sketches about ridiculous lactation consultants and songs about lusting after your toddler's soccer coach. I disappeared to my "office" (a closet where I kept my computer) whenever my husband watched those tv shows where people turn trash into race cars or chase tornados, or things like that. I heeded Oprah's advice and made a "vision board" of my dreams. I moved to the suburbs and upgraded from a closet to a real office. I gave birth to another sweet, curly haired, miraculous baby. And all the while I continued to write - unconsciously (?) focused on the hilarious humanity of parenthood.
While I had once thought that having children would separate me from my life in the theatre, I learned that quite the opposite was true. Ironically, it is the experience of motherhood that gave me inspiration and led me to a new stage of my professional life.
Since having children, my writing reflects the things worth laughing about in parenthood - enough to write a whole musical! In it, I hold up a mirror to my life, and shine a light on the funny stuff. I allow the sunshine of my children's laughter to supersede life's hard knocks. My boys, do indeed, negate the negative.
For me, parenthood has been a tonic. While all the bad things in the world are happening, babies pee in my face, my father-in-law forgets to knock while I'm pumping, and my toddler feeds a can of refried beans to my diabetic dog for "dinner." I find that in the midst of living real life, it is a relief to focus on the sublime ridiculousness and joy of bringing up children. Now if you'll excuse me the oven timer just went off and there are two tiny astronauts in the living room who need me to count down 'til blast off.