I was working as a freelance performing arts tutor when I was expecting my first baby. It was a challenging job at the best of times but throw in a bit of morning sickness and suddenly, herding 4 year olds around on a Saturday morning in a village hall in Surrey becomes a bit much. I survived though (with the help of ginger nuts) and avoided vomiting on my tap shoes. In August I was directing a summer school for young performers two weeks from my due date, having a great time, playing drama games and choreographing dances. I had always said, “As long as she doesn’t decide to be born on the day of the show we will be fine”. So during the matinee performance interval I pop to the toilet for a quick visit and what seemed like seconds later my waters had flooded the backstage toilet and horrified cast members watched me pitter patter across the stage out to the car park, leaving wet footprints as I waddled. A few hours later my little girl arrived in the world and I didn’t get to see the final show. My husband did though; from his position in the orchestra pit and as musical director he had to stay and see it through to the end but he did make the birth so all was not lost. A bit of a close call though. In fact if her head had not got stuck he probably would have missed it but that is another, less appropriate story.
So for my second pregnancy you would think I had learned my lesson. I hadn’t. My son was born on the Monday of summer school (a week early) and I was back directing on the Tuesday. This was only made possible with the help of an army of babysitters, the support of the midwifery team and a huge tub of arnica. I was very nervous about telling my midwife I needed to go back to direct the production but as her children were showbiz types she understood. We all survived the drama but then the battles began.
We had been fortunate enough to find an investor to support our fledgling business ‘Lucky Bucket Productions’, a company providing original show scripts to schools and theatre groups. We had written 13 shows for children of all ages and abilities and we wanted to share them with other teachers and directors, fortunately our investor saw as much potential in this idea as we did and gave us the money to publish the scripts and get them out into the world. Well starting your own business is never easy, being with your partner 24 hours a day, seven days a week is not ideal, looking after a baby and toddler is far from a walk in the park. Put all three together and you have some idea of what our household is like. Once the children are awake, fed, cleaned, dressed and settled then we set about doing work. My husband took the lion’s share of the work while I was in my ‘maternity leave’ period and then the juggling began.
Out of the Loop
After a debatable ‘rest period’ I felt out of the loop, frustrated, who were these people sending emails? Why didn’t I know that school was doing that show? Why oh why can’t you put receipts in one place and clearly label the file? An uptight Virgo and a laid back Aquarius working together? Disaster. Eventually we called on the Grandparents to get involved so my husband and I could work together and I could catch up with the goings on. Now we have divided things fairly and we take turns with childcare and work issues. We juggle, like all parents until the children go to bed and then we both sit at our laptops until very late at night when we have to force ourselves to go to bed in order to deal with the early wake up call of the children.
This actually makes it sound quite straight forward but you can imagine it. Our children are in a brilliant routine, which is great, they are really in tune which is perfect you would think. No. There are periods of time when all hell breaks loose. The toddler is hungry, so is baby, the toddler wants attention, so does baby, the toddler needs to wee on the toilet, baby needs a nappy change, the toddler is screaming for no reason, so is baby and my personal favourite, the baby wakes up unexpectedly in the night and lays there quietly and the toddler wakes up too. How do they do that? Anyway, anyone who has ever been a parent knows what I am talking about and anyone who has children just two years apart could have warned me!
There are days when I wish we had an office and others when I realise how lucky we are to be together as a family every day. It is exhausting, it is endless but hugely rewarding as we know we are working to give our children a better future. When the emails and phone calls roll in with enquiries about our shows it is always exciting, when we know our shows are being performed by schools and groups across the country it is so satisfying and with the pressures of work and family life we know there is no danger of me falling pregnant again so that is reassuring.
All of this is with the added pressure of the investment. A brave gentleman took a risk on us and we are not just working for ourselves but for his future too. Why couldn’t I just be a stay at home mum with a husband bringing home the bacon? I could spend hours finger painting and playing in the garden without feeling the need to pop off and write a script or make a phone call or send an email. Surely it must pay off one day? Things are already moving along with the business and we are in talks with some very well known theatre schools and the business was only established very recently. As for the kids? They are brilliant. They never cease to make us laugh even when they are doing their best to wind us up. Our little boy is probably the best baby ever, he smiles so readily, eats anything, sleeps all night and laughs uncontrollably. Our toddler is hilarious, she tells jokes, impersonates family members to their face, sings and dances and is a prize winning tantrum throwing drama queen. I don’t know where she gets it from.
About the Author: Angela is 34 and lives in the South of England with her husband, two children and their imaginary friend ‘Rocket Boy’. She ran her own theatre school for ten years and now she writes, directs, choreographs and produces youth shows. She is also co-director of LUCKY BUCKET PRODUCTIONS who provide original scripts for performance to schools and youth groups. For more information visit www.luckybucket.co.uk or email Anglea on firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep up with Lucky Bucket Productions with Twitter @luckybucketprod and the blog, www.bigshowsforlittlepeople.blogspot.com.