I tip toed in the dark room and kissed my six-year-old son on the forehead before taking my exhausted body to bed.
The next morning before he trotted off to school his eyes widened at my presence, “Mom! You don’t have to work today!”
But it wasn’t true, I was starting my morning work from home and then heading to production set. When I explained this to my little guy his nose scrunched up and he mumbled, “I don’t like you working on movies.”
It was my passion since I was seventeen, to become an actress. After local on-camera training, with my amazing agent, she referred me to an acting coach in New York City. I met weekly with my coach, empowered every time I got off the train and rode the escalator up from the dark tunnel into the busy city. I yearned to be in front of the camera… but then one day, while on set in New York, I realized I wanted to be a part of the action behind the camera. The process felt exciting and I loved the idea of being part of the creation behind the scenes.
I returned back to my Cincinnati roots and attended college for video and audio production. Born a “people pleaser”, my best assets on set was as production assistant, coordinator and casting. I did this, freelancing, for about fifteen years while also working full-time as technical production assistant at a prestige theater company.
But then my son came along.
He was three months old when I went back to set, shooting a three-day commercial, and it became unbearable.
My passion and people pleasing was active, but my heart yearned for the time with my son. Pumping (breast milk) on set was frustrating – I’m not one to take “breaks.” Never smoked so I didn’t have to worry about breaking for that either… and telling a male dominate crew I need to pump was a nightmare. Thank the goodness the coordinator and manager on set were women… supportive women! However, sitting in the bathroom, hooked up to a breast pump and hearing the director from the other side of the door, “Where’s Rebecca?” was stressful, to sugar coat it.
It was my first realization that maybe my lifetime dream career wasn’t right for me anymore.
I stumbled into the role of nanny after much debate on what to do… Battling my brain at what the positives and negatives would be at officially leaving behind the career I worked so hard for.
Then I met a wonderful family to work for, was able to take my son with me, and the situation soon was a no brainer. I officially became a nanny.
For the first couple weeks I internally struggled: Why was I giving up everything I worked so hard for? Was I quitting my career without really trying to make it work?
Then one day, it didn’t take long, I fell in love with the blue eyed baby staring up at me. I couldn’t imagine missing out on watching him grow. I couldn’t imagine missing his firsts. I’d give my life to protect this little guy.
His parents are wonderful, we mesh so well, soon a job organically became a friendship.
And all was wonderful…
Except I kept receiving crew calls… and eventually, turning down those crew calls became difficult. Then the calls stopped. Once my son and the two boys I cared for reached preschool age, I decided I needed to dive back into my original passion.
But it wasn’t the same.
First, I had to reestablish my contacts after five years, many people had moved to New York now, L.A. or now took on other positions in the business. But always being a dedicated, hard worker paid off – the calls eventually began coming in through word of mouth.
They were usually two- and three-day commercial shoots here and there. Always long hours, just the business, and the first couple times I was on a natural set high.
But as things continued… my head, my heart, was always with the kids, especially in the summer. What they were doing? How they were doing? If they ate a good lunch?
And worse, I became that person on set always talking about the kids. Showing pictures, how I missed them, I became so disconnected with the other people still in the business.
I began to become more hesitant accepting work, making up excuses and finding reasons why I should be with the kids instead.
It was a referral, given by a much-respected co-worker from multiple set shoots, that obligated the people pleaser in me to take the almost three-week movie job.
I was coordinator for this production, so was part of pre and post production…
The hours were long…
And after that day when my son told me he didn’t want me to work in movies anymore, I had a strong urge to hang up my career, maybe temporary, maybe for good… I wasn’t sure.
The boys I nanny for gave me a FaceTime call one day, while I was in post-production, and the older of the two said, “I love you, Becca, will I ever see you again?”
When my eyes literally became damp, and my heart unexpectedly ached, I realized my passion was now with the children. The film life could no longer fulfill me in the way it had in the past.
The boys were growing, experiencing so much and I was missing it by working long hours on set. The tradeoff didn’t seem worth it.
The boys I nanny are going to school and I started with another family in between. I love their little girl just as much as “my boys.” Everything she does feels new all over again, because it is, I’m sharing it with a new little person.
I added another fulfillment in my life, on top of being a nanny, writing. It rarely gets in the way of my time with my son, I have a creative outlet and I can still adult to others. I can take my son with me, on his off days from school, and I adore how much pride he takes in pretending to be a big brother. It all feels like a win.
I understand it’s not for everyone, I have a few of my friends openly admit, “I don’t know how you watch other people’s kid(s), man sometimes just dealing with my own…” they complement my patience and love for the children… and you know what? They also have jobs that I likely wouldn’t be able to do. We are just all wired differently… and that’s okay!
Sure, sometimes I’m exhausted after coming home and just want a glass of wine and relax, but I need to make dinner and help my son with homework… however I would put money on it that if you are a mom, similar obligations wait for you when coming home.
The truth is my heart is more fulfilled and I feel more successful than I ever did. There was always something very rewarding seeing a movie or commercial I helped create… but it doesn’t compare to the rewarding moment when you witness lightbulbs go off in a child’s head, something you’ve taught them!
I’m proud that I made a dream of mine come true… (there are more) But these new chapters in my life book are a consistent reward to my heart. Taking care of other people’s precious cargo, the way I do my own, can’t compare to any other feeling my heart has known. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel blessed to have these families added in my life, a privilege that I actually can’t imagine my life without.
My note to YOU: Life is short… live without guilt and live happy. Do what you can’t live without, not what you settle for.
My son told me out of the blue, one hot summer day, while driving the boys to the pool, “Mom, I don’t know why you don’t do movies anymore but I’m glad you don’t.”
I just shot him a grin and shrugged, “I wouldn’t have our life any other way.”