Friday, August 17, 2012

Reaching For The Stars

Reaching For The Stars
By Laura Bradford

Aside from being a mom, working toward a dream and having it come true has been one of my biggest joys in life.

I remember, quite vividly, the day the writing bug bit. I was ten years old and playing at a friend's house. It was raining and we'd had our full of Barbies and back-up-dancers (don't ask). At a loss for other entertainment options, we decided to write and illustrate a kids' book.

That was it. I was hooked.

Now, before your eyes glaze over at the thought of yet another why-I-became-a-writer blog post, this isn't one of those.You see, now that I'm a mom, I'm getting to see the whole "bug" thing from another perspective.

Sure, the kids had their "I wanna be a (fill in the blank)" stage when they were little. At that time, Dear Daughter # 1 entertained a host of options--bus driver, garbage collector (she thought it would be neat to ride on the outside of a truck), and the ever popular dance teacher. But by the time she was ten, she began to say one thing and one thing only...

She wanted to be an actress.

At first, I assumed it was a phase like the garbage collector had been. Then, as she got into high school and kept saying, "actress", I began to worry. I mean, who out there doesn't envision their "actress" child waiting tables for years and years?

Friends told me to talk her out of it.

Family told me to talk her out of it.

But it would be rather hypocritcal for me to try and talk her out of acting when my dream of being a writer wasn't a whole lot easier. So I stepped back, said a few prayers, and made the decision to let her try.

A few months ago, she came to me with information about an intensive week-long theater workshop in NYC. The program enabled her to pick a concentration (acting, dance, or vocal) and study with professionals in the field (working professionals--broadway dancers, broadway singers, tv actors, etc). The cost was blink-worthy, but her thought process was sound:  by putting herself in that environment in a way no school production ever would, she could get a real feel for what life might be like as an actress.

So I said another prayer, scraped up the money, and made the arrangements (including securing a place to stay via my aunt's apartment).

Monday was her first day. She worked with actors, practiced scenes, took notes, and soaked up the experience like a girl with a dream. And in all my seventeen years of being her mom, I don't think I've ever been more proud of her (and that's saying a lot). She has seized hold of this experience with both hands and is making it her own.

Tonight is the showcase, where she'll get up on stage in a real Broadway theater and do the monologue she's been preparing. And there I'll be, sitting in the audience, knowing that the first part of her dream has just taken flight.

This kid has heart and passion for her dream.

This mom has all the confidence in the world she's going to make it.


  1. Hurray, Laura! For your talented daughter and for your own belief and encouragement of her dream!

    I used to do life coaching, and I can't tell you how many of my clients were middle-aged people with "successful" careers that simply were not what they'd ever wanted to do. They'd given up their own unique dreams at the insistence of parents and were now trying to chisel their way out of frozen lives. You've just ensured that your daughter will never be one of those people.

    I know three people who wanted to be actors when they were starting out. None of them have given Meryl Streep or Morgan Freeman a run for the money. But then, in every field only a few make it to the pinnacle of success. Two of these three are professors of theater and directors now. The third is a successful screenwriter, playwright, and teacher of workshops out in LA. All three live happy lives, still immersed in the theater they love--and they're not waiting tables.

  2. Reading this made me smile. Bravo to Dear Daughter #1. I'll be clapping and cheering for her as well.

  3. Stand up and cheer loudly!!! My nephew & niece majored in Theater/Costuming/Lighting & Technology at Florida State [I think?]... Anyway, their grandmother had visions of them working a Grateful Dead roadies... Not.. He's a Technical Director of a theater in Florida.. She's now working in a totally different arena and is with a clinical trials cancer institute..

  4. Linda, I couldn't agree more about finding what makes you happy, rather than just a job. I know she'll hit her tough times with it, but, in the end, it will work out because she'll be doing what she has a passion to do.

    Dru, me, too! :)

    Girlygirl, I'm already watching the clock until I get to go watch her do her thing!

  5. Tears - I'm so proud of DD#1 and you for supporting her in her dreams - Cheering for her tonight in Illinois. I think being able to take risks and find yourself is so important as a kid - she'll remember this for years.

    Dreams are fragile, they need love.

  6. Love that line, Lynn: Dreams are fragile, they need love.

    It really does mean a lot when you have someone who a) listens enough to know your dream is important and b) cheers loudly from the sidelines when it comes true.

  7. I too have a daughter who's interested in musical theatre. She's been acting on the stage since she was five. She's now eleven. I told her, "Follow your heart, no matter where that takes you. You just have to decide if your dream is worth making no money because that might happen. Know that I'll always back your decision but also know you're not coming back home to live with me."

  8. I got chills reading this. Getting to live their dream supported by the person who means the most to them is the best gift anyone can give their child.

  9. Ksmill7, I hope your daughter sticks with it if it's her passion.

    Aimee, thanks.

    And by the way...saw her perform her monologue tonight and she KNOCKED IT OUT OF THE BALLPARK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was so proud of (and happy for) her. Yay!

  10. That's fantastic, Laura. I can only imagine how proud you must be. And power to you for instilling that "go after your dream with all you've got" mindset in your girls from such a young age. That is one of the most powerful tools a parent can give a child. You ROCK!!! :)

  11. This was so wonderful to read, lucky girl to have you for a mom and vice versa. Marilyn

  12. Thanks, Maura and Marilyn. She makes it easy to be a mom.