I don’t know about you, but I like to plan things. I’ve got a natural love of calendars and organizational tools. I was an early adopter of the Palm Pilot (does anyone remember what this even was?). Surprises might be fun, but they could also feel nerve-wracking.
Being the parent of a young actor has forced me to get over that.
The life of an actor—and consequently their parent, if it’s a young actor—is like an ongoing master class in patience. In being cool with change. Because this particular life is basically constant change and uncertainty, and if you fight it, you will only end up crazy frustrated. There is no fighting nature, and the nature of an actor’s life is unpredictability.
When Dove was auditioning constantly—before she landed Liv and Maddie—I had to cancel and reschedule a dentist appointment for her three times before we could actually get in. Why? Because every time we had the appointment on the books, she would get another audition and we’d have to cancel and reschedule. Basically anything on the calendar was likely to get rescheduled at least once. This is the absolute norm for stage parents.
Projects show up on short notice, and projects fall apart out of the blue. Scenes are cut or added. Lines and whole pages of script can change even as your kid films, with the writers feverishly debating on the sidelines as the cameras pause. Movies are green-lit and then the funding disappears, and they are back in limbo again. Sometimes whole pilots or movies are shot, and never see the light of day.
Timing is everything, and timing is what is most out of our control.
I used to experience genuine stress when factors completely out of my hands would affect our lives. Now I just build in as much slack as I can, and assume that change of some kind will occur. Part of the trick to living a resilient life is to expect change, and have enough flexibility in your life to accommodate it. This isn’t resignation—it’s reality. Reality has its own schedule!
You may or may not have noticed, but I usually keep to a rhythm where I alternate blog posts and podcasts—this week we “should” have a new podcast. But you are reading this blog post on approaching the unexpected with a zen attitude instead.
My intention for this week was to be able to direct you to my podcast’s new home on iTunes. But when the technical stuff took longer to sort out than I planned, I realized there was an opportunity in the lull– so I decided to take a little more time, and re-brand the podcast series before giving it a proper launch on a bigger platform. Welcome to this week’s particular version of living with the unexpected!
Being a stage parent has made me a better parent, and a better person, in many ways. But one of my favorites is that I can roll with change better than I used to—which is to say I still can experience some stress when the universe throws a wrench in my plans—but it’s much less stress, and I’m over it almost immediately.
Very few things are actually catastrophic. Most of what upsets us is being attached to a certain vision of how things “should” be. But as I look back over my adventures in Hollywood as a young actor’s parent—and in life in general—I notice that most of what may have thrown me was simply events showing up in an unexpected way. Unexpected isn’t inherently bad—and it often creates space for something better to show up.
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