I was driving down the Westside Highway taking my 10-year-old to a sleepover at seven o’clock on a rainy Friday night. I was the picture of Mommy-ness; a weekend with play dates and cooking and laundry and enjoying our newest addition, our baby, two-month-old Beatrix. In the back of my mind were the constant worries about money and raising kids in this crazy city, and a lack of auditions, but for tonight, I was in a sleepless haze, content in my role of Mom.
And then my phone rang.
I glanced down and noticed the caller ID “The Producing Office.” Huh? I plugged in my headset and answered. “We have an emergency on the tour of Avenue Q and we need you to fly to Atlanta. Everyone is sick and they might have to cancel the shows tomorrow. I know this is crazy, but can I send a car to pick you up at 4am to get you to LaGuardia for a 6am flight, to get you to rehearsal by 10am to do a show at 2pm?”
Allow me to interject here—for clarity—that I’d done Avenue Q in Las Vegas and had done a few months in the Broadway Company, but I’d never done the tour production. As if defying any good sense, my heart sped up with excitement. I couldn’t lie, after months of pregnancy and taking care of a newborn, it sounded like fun. I was NEEDED! And it wasn’t to change a poopy diaper! Nick, the company manager continued, “Let me know how we can help you.” I wondered if it was possible to negotiate to get back all the sleep I’d lost the night before. That’s what I needed more than anything.
I hung up and looked in the rear view mirror at my two girls. How could I possibly swing this? I called my husband (voice mail) and then my agent (voice mail) leaving rattled, excited, fragments of a message. My agent called back first. “You’ve got to be (expletive) kidding me! Do they know you have a newborn?”
“I know, but they might have to cancel the show!” (I was NEEDED. It was a MUSICAL THEATER EMERGENCY. I wanted a super hero cape.) My agent became all business peppered with motherly concern.
“Get home. Stop talking while you are driving. Make a list of what you need. Call me back.”
I begged my neighbor, Karen to come down and give Beatrix a bottle so I could call my agent. By this time I’d talked to my husband and we’d agreed that both kids should stay home with him. I started with the basics. “I’m going to need a freezer in my hotel room. I’m going to have to pump and I don’t want to throw the milk away. I’m going to need an extra bag allowance for the pump and bottles. I’m going to need help finding a last minute sitter.”
My agent added, “And more money.”
“Oh yeah, okay,” I agreed “But no freezer is a deal breaker. And I’ll have to pump at the theater.” Mommy negotiations 101, prioritize pumping over cash.
My agent negotiated a sweet deal and I—despite the very serious guilt induced panic attack I had while packing (“YOU ARE LEAVING YOUR BABY. THE PLANE COULD CRASH. YOU ARE DESERTING YOUR CHILDREN FOR PUPPETS”) –was excited to bring some much needed money into our bank account.
Then I had a sobering realization. I couldn’t go. My wallet had been stolen that week from a Babies-R-Us in Yonkers and I didn’t have a picture ID. No, (as everyone asks when they hear this story) I don’t have a passport. Numerous miserable phone calls later, I unpacked my bags, put on my pj’s, kissed my kids and settled back down on the couch. They sent my friend Carmen instead, and remarkably, she never went on because everyone recovered from the flu. No musical theater emergency. No cape. No ID. Back to being Mommy.