This Mother's Day, Young Actors Theatre take a moment to appreciate our full-time staff who are also full-time moms. Managing Director Catherine Wade, Associate Artistic Director Georgeanna Smith, and Development Manager Claire Bailey give us a peek into their lives as YAT all-stars and as amazing parents.
What are the names, ages, and personalities of your kiddo(s)?
Catherine: Walter is 5. Inquisitive, sensitive, dramatic. Abraham is 3. Curious, fearless, smiley.
Georgeanna: Cosette (Coco for short!) is 18 months old. She's a happy, super friendly, very cautious, very opinionated, slightly dramatic, and hilarious big girl!
Claire: Amelia, 2; shy but silly and thoughtful. Josephine (Joey), 1; very loving but definitely has a wild side.
How has your way of working (teaching method, time management, etc) changed since becoming a parent? Has the way you work with children (or interact with parents) changed since you became a parent?
Catherine: I now know how much all the parents at YAT just want to see their child doing something that makes them happy and inspired. I also know how much communication is important between teachers and parents-- I want to know what's going on when my kids are away so we can have lively conversations!
Georgeanna: For the administrative part of my job, she has helped me not waste time. My time has become more focused, so that I can balance my work with walks, swings, picture books, and practicing animal sounds! As a teacher, I think I have a deeper understanding of how our YAT parents love their kiddos! That has given me more empathy to how hard it must be to watch your student not get the role they want, or not get cast in that Woods show, or feel disappointed. I have a better understanding of how my job is to help our students with the BIG picture of life, not just what would be fun or feel good for the moment!
Claire: For me it's all about getting as much out of the morning as possible. Before kids, I couldn't get anything accomplished before 9:30am, but now I'm out of bed early and ready to go before the sun is completely up. But with this new routine there are downsides (read: I'm completely braindead by 4pm.)
As a parent, I now know I immediately have something in common with every YAT parent. I can begin a conversation with any of them based on our kids and that's been very helpful in getting to know the YAT community. YAT parents have been a huge sounding board for me as I navigate the early years of motherhood. Numerous parents have given me great advice/support on topics ranging from potty training to zoo memberships. I'm very appreciative of all the support I receive from the YAT community and am very lucky to have made so many friends through the process.
How do the tenets of YAT (confidence, creativity, and discipline) shine through in your parenting styles? Or maybe a better question would be: how do you "embrace the process" as a parent?
Catherine: Still working on it. I'm realizing you can't force these things!!!
Claire: My style of parenting is all about balance and letting go, which I guess is very much about "embracing the process". I want my girls to have strong opinions and not be afraid to express those opinions, but at the same time, I'm working to guide them to be good, kind, respectful individuals. It's a balancing act that I haven't quite totally figured out but I think that's what parenthood is - no one exactly masters it (but if someone has, please tell me who this person is and their phone number).
Georgeanna: There are many, many, many times when I am not confident as a parent (most of the time?!) I feel like I spent the first few months of Coco's life waiting for the "real" mom to show up. Was there a momier-mom coming? Nope! It's me! I think that parenting has taught me that inner confidence doesn't mean that you necessarily know what you are doing, it means that you have the courage to be honest, ask for help, try, and know that the sun will still set and rise even when you make mistakes. I am trying to instill confidence in Coco, because I think it's such a great gift. Toddlers are very confident, but I keep telling her every day how much she is loved and how I like everything about her, even when she's acting nuts!
Do you plan on enrolling your kiddo(s) in YAT classes when they are old enough? What do you look forward to for them?
Catherine: Walter is starting this summer- he keeps telling me he isn't going, but HE IS! I hope the programs helps build his confidence!
Georgeanna: Yes!!!!!!!! I don't care if Coco likes theatre (in fact, it would be fun if she was really passionate about something else like science fair....something I know very little about!) BUT, I really think that YAT is a brilliant training ground for kids no matter what they are into. I look around at our students and I want Coco to be like them: confident, courageous, cool, smart, articulate, strong, creative, focused, the list goes on. If Coco could be like you guys, I would be so happy!
Claire: OF COURSE (if they want to, but they will)! I am looking forward to their performances and the feeling of accomplishment that I know they will have at the end of each session. I'm also looking forward to the pep rallies :)
YAT job titles only give a snapshot of all that you truly do here. What do your kids say you do at work?
Catherine: Dance. Make plays. Work. Teaches kids how to make plays. My favorite: Walter just said when I'm gone I'm Rehearsaling.
Georgeanna: Coco thinks "work" means that she gets to go play with my parents' dog or with Grandpa Joe and Grandma Char :) Anytime Justin is gone she says "Dada at work. Dada at work." I work from home during the weekdays, so when I tell her I'm working, she thinks that means it's her time to go through all my jewelry, take all the cans out of the cupboards, and play in her play room. So "work" to her means party time!
Claire: Well my oldest, Amelia, likes to pound on the keyboard of my computer and yell "like mommy" if I ever leave it out and open. So I can only assume she thinks I spend a lot of time on my computer pounding at the keyboard (which I do).
So, babies are dramatic. Tell us about a particularly dramatic funny mom moment you've had.
Georgeanna: I went into Coco's room to get her up from her nap and she had sprinkled poop EVERYWHERE. I mean all over the crib, the wall, the floor, toys. It was across the room. I opened the door and she looked at me all guiltily and said, "Yuck. Yucky. Yuck. No, no." Yeah, thanks, Coco. You are right. Yuck.
Claire: Just the other day Amelia came running inside from the backyard where she was blowing bubbles with my husband and Joey. She was screaming and tears were streaming down her face. I thought for sure she had hurt herself and immediately started to do a checklist of body parts. Finally she calms down enough to tell me "bubble broke". I realized then that she was upset because when she tried to catch one of the bubbles they would pop on her.
What will you be doing this Mother's Day?
Catherine: Sleeping in! Coffee on the deck, starting our vegetable garden, then visiting my mom! Being a mom is definitely the best thing ever. I'm trying to soak up all their littleness.
Georgeanna: We are lucky to have both Justin's mom and my mom in town, so we will probably go to church, eat lunch with my mom, eat dinner with Justin's mom. And I'd love to squeeze in my favorite family date, going to Barnes and Noble (where Coco rips books off the shelves and I put them back up. It's been great for my alphabetizing!)
Claire: I'll be drinking coffee in bed, having brunch with family and wrapping up the day with our weekly trip to Trader Joe's.
Happy Mother's Day to all of our YAT moms and moms-to-be! We appreciate you. We respect you. Have a wonderful Sunday, and we'll see you at the Playground shows next weekend!
And for our YAT students, a note from Georgeanna: "Don't ever doubt how much your mom (or grandparent or parent or guardian!) loves you. I didn't really understand how much my mom loves me until I had Coco (and my mom tells me all the time how much she loves me!) Your mom/parent is in your corner, 10000000%!"