In Support of Being Selfish...

It’s been a while. Again.


I imagine a lot of writers are returning to their blogs this month with that same message. Except they were squirreled away for the month of November killing it at NaNoWriMo. To all of those writers: I hope you won.  I hope you wrote 50k words of brilliance that you are now feverishly editing, sending to betas or CPs, and generally feeling great about.


I was busy NOT writing.


In late September, I happened upon a Facebook post from a local theatre. They were casting a production of “It’s A Wonderful Life” and needed women to fill some minor roles. I thought about how much fun that would be and how close this theatre was to my home. (5 minutes!) And then, like I always do, I looked for the inevitable conflicts.  After all, Halloween to Christmas is a CRAZY time for most families. Christmas concerts. Meetings. Obligations. But there were none. Not one conflict during the run of the show.


I immediately got a pit in my stomach.  Not a bad feeling – it was that, “I’m about to make my life so much harder, but I think I HAVE to do this,” feeling. I emailed the Director. I probably don’t even have the time to audition, let alone do this play, I thought. The Director emailed me back within minutes, asking for a headshot and resume. (I’m a little embarrassed to tell you I had to quickly rework my theatrical resume, including changing the name and weight, since I hadn’t done a show since before I was married!) But I sent it over, and broke the news to my husband that I might be doing crazy thing. I assured him the chances were probably slim since there was really only one role in which I was interested. Right on cue, the Director’s reply dinged on my phone, offering me the very role I coveted.


Ok, God.  I hear you.


So I did this incredibly selfish thing. I signed on to play the coquette, Violet Bick, in “It’s A Wonderful Life.” I was terrified. Nine years is a long to be away from any hobby, but it’s a lifetime to be away from the stage. However, I’m happy to report it really is one of those “riding a bike” things and the first time I walked in the stage door, I swear I could hear “As If We Never Said Goodbye” playing the air.


Being back on stage, and in the company of amazing actors and crew and theatre family was incredible. But that is not actually what this post is about.  (I know, talk about a long walk for a short drink…) It is about a mother, doing something so ridiculously selfish.


As a stay at home mom, you could easily assume that I have all the time in the world.  But I don’t function well if I’m not busy. (Go listen to the song “Frantic” by Jamie O’Neal and this is pretty much me. HERE.) My commitments have always furthered my family or my community in some way. Choir practice? Yes, I love to sing, but it’s in service to the Music Ministry. Preschool Board? Those ladies are a hoot, but it’s about my kids’ school.  MOPS? Love the brunch, but it was socialization for my preschool-aged kids. And with each of these commitments, I went in as Emily Ramquist, wife and mother.


Now those are two titles that I am fiercely proud of, but they are by no means ALL of me. When I walked into the first rehearsal for the play, I was simply Emily Ramquist. No one wanted to talk about playdates, or diaper creams or ask me to serve a committee. I still found myself reverting to making conversation about my family, and that is fine.  But that wasn’t where my value was in this group.  My value was in my ability to say my lines, make them work and follow direction. And although I can’t quite explain it, it gave me back a piece of me that was lost somewhere in motherhood. It reminded me that I am worthy, talented, and deserve things that bring me joy that have NOTHING to do with my family.


I wish I could give every mother I know the time to do something like this. I wish that they could take the time to remember who they were before maternity pants and sippy cups. Not because we shouldn’t value this time (I am incredibly thankful to experience motherhood and to stay home with my babies), but because it has made me a better mother.  It’s trite, but the adage, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” is so very true.  And I think as moms sometimes we think we are doing things to fill that cup that actually only empty even more.


So Moms, be selfish.  Take the time to value yourself outside of motherhood and your marriage. It doesn’t take away from your love for both of those roles. I promise, it will fill your cup and give you more to pour out for your family.


And to my “Wonderful Life” family: thank you for accepting me, supporting me, and making my first venture back onto the stage so fun. I can’t wait to work with you all again.

Emily Ramquist