Motherhood 101: London, LA & an Alternate Ending
Yesterday my son had his final audition in London for university. It was intense. He was there from 9 until 2, and was then asked to return at 6:30 to learn of his result. He was warned they would not announce those selected until the entire class has been chosen, so while they were to come at 6:30, they might not know until later. An interesting way to do it I suppose, and also very stressful.
After months of preparation it all boiled down to sitting in a room and waiting for people you don’t know to judge you based on 2 days work, without really knowing who you are. It is all part of being an actor and I get it, but as a mother it is hard. Waiting is never an easy thing for a mother and when you mix the crazy waiting game with strangers judging your child, well no good can come of that.
As my son sat in a room with the other applicants, I sat in a coffee shop around the corner. I just sat there making lists in my head of what would happen when he got in. It never crossed my mind that he wouldn’t. I have been operating for the past 4 months under the assumption he was coming to England to university, so I made a list of what I would need to buy him before he moved here.
After 2 hours, and 3 texts from my son saying there was still no news, I returned to the school and repeatedly walked around the block. I had spoken with my brother in Canada every hour trying to channel my dad for advice and my wonderful brother did a good job of keeping me calm when all I wanted to do was barge into the school and scream for them to decide already. Then my son called.
Important to note that my son never wanted to go to university. He wants to study comedy improve with a local theater company, and start auditioning for work. The only way he agreed to apply to college, was to attend in London. He loves England and English humor and felt putting his career aside for a few years of school would only be of value if he was living abroad. He was going to college for me.
Back to the audition, he walked up to me with a huge smile on his face and told me he did not get in. He then hugged me and said his whole life was in front of him and he was now on a new path to start working and studying in Los Angeles, embarking on his career as an actor. To be honest I was in a bit of shock. It truly never occurred to me he would not get in. Not once, and so I was confused.
Who were these morons who did not accept my son into their program? Had I done a disservice to my boy by assuming he was in all this time? Was he really ok or just acting? Was he relieved to not be coming to England? Was he only coming for me because I pushed him to go to college? I stood there not sure what to say or do, and in the panic of not knowing I said the one thing I wish I hadn’t.
I told this glorious child I was disappointed he was not going to college. That was all it took to change the mood and have him shut down. He told me he was sad he had disappointed me and was sorry. Fuck. He hadn’t disappointed me, yet all he heard was the word disappointment. With one word I managed to ruin the moment. I wanted to punch myself in the face for being an idiot.
The truth is I am never disappointed in this young man. There are levels of disappointment of course, and when he lied about handing in homework in, or broke something and didn’t confess, there was disappointment, but when it comes to who he is as a human being, his treatment of others, and his respect of his mother, I have never been disappointed. He is a remarkable and wonderful person.
He has had a plan for his life since he was little and never wavered from it. He has wanted to be an actor for as long as he can remember and the truth is he is an actor. A very talented one. Not getting into this college in England does not define who he is as an actor. All it did was clear his path so he could go on his way in the direction he is meant to go. Those bastards have no power over his dreams for himself.
Over 2600 people auditioned for this school this year. There were 104 people invited to London, so he had about a 4% chance of making it to the final round of the audition process, and he did. He made it all the way to London and had 2 days of the intense audition process that is a part of the career he has chosen. It is invaluable. That he did not make it in says more about them than him.
The truth is, in speaking with my boy, he is relieved to have it over because now he knows what to do next. He does not need to worry about moving, or being so far away, or missing out on opportunities to study comedy, which is what he wanted. As he performed a comedy audition for his serious theater school, the judges laughed in a real way and he wondered if this was the place for him. He simply wasn't sure.
He may come back next year and try again, or he may not. At some point we need to start respecting the choices of our children and trust that we have raised them well. I learned a lot about my son this week. My dream for him was to go to college. It may be his dream too, just on a different timetable than I imagined, and that is okay. It has to be okay because he is an adult now and I must step back.
I don’t know if my son will ever understand how proud of him I am. I cried when I went to bed last night. Not because he didn’t get accepted, but because he went to sleep thinking I was somehow disappointed in him. For the rest of my life I will never be able to take that moment back and I am truly heartbroken over it. I wish I could go back and never have used the word disappointment at all.
This has been an amazing week. I had the vacation of a lifetime with my son. We saw everything we wanted to see, did all the things we wanted to do, spent time with people we love, and strolled arm in arm down the streets of a city we both adore so much. I have memories that will last a lifetime,and England will forever be ours. It is the homeland of my beloved father, and now our happy place.
When my son is a successful actor he will have a residence in London. We will spend lots of time here and it will become a second home for us. We will look back at this time in his life and remember how simple it was. God willing we will not remember how I managed to rain on his parade. For the love of God. It didn’t rain for a week in London yet I managed to make it rain? That is talent people.
We are in London until tomorrow afternoon and have had a wonderful time. When we get home it will be a whirlwind of senior night, prom, and graduation. My son will go on a vacation with his friends, and head to Canada to see my family. He will then buckle down and start living his dream. I will love him, support him, believe in him, encourage him, and be thankful to be able to watch it all happen for him.
To my son I want you to know that I love you. You have meant more to me than anyone or anything in my entire life and it is not possible for me to be prouder of you, or happier for you. Mazel Tov on a job well done! You wanted to audition in London and you did it! I cannot wait to see where your career takes you, and I will be sitting in the front row watching it all happen for you my darling boy.
Whether it is community theater with seats for 10, the Broadway stage, a movie set, or a television soundstage, I will be there. I am your number one fan and top cheerleader. I am not now, nor will I ever be disappointed in you, unless of course you don’t take me to the Oscars as your date. Then there will be disappointment and Jewish guilt on levels of epic proportion. Know it my child. Know it.
Watching your children become adults and make decisions for themselves is an interesting thing. As parents it allows us the opportunity to sit back and see we have done our jobs well and they will be okay. This trip has shown me what I have always known, my child is wise, mature, aware, funny, kind, and talented. My son will do remarkable things because I have taught him to keep the faith.