I remember traveling by subway across Manhattan then jumping on bus to cross bridge over water to New Jersey to visit my former classmate Christina and her newborn daughter. Christina and I were graduates of the Yale School of Drama and professional actresses already facing the brutal day to day of making a barely-living while pursuing a dream. And there, in her characteristically brave and defiant and elegant way, my friend added to her dream motherhood. I will never forget spending the day seamlessly conversing about plays, struggles, diapers, baby cries and music and more diapers.
I also will never forget feeling bathed in Christina’s radiance as I took the ferry back across the water that night. Still raw, still beautiful, my friend had expanded. When she replied to my request for a What She Looks Like profile, I couldn’t be more thrilled. I have to include her intro, because how else could motherhood be described but with this honesty, contradiction and simultaneous enthusiasm:
Most days I just don’t feel like I have anything encouraging, motivational, or inspiring to say about motherhood. But then I’m like, yeah, this is the hardest thing I have ever done, but I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. What’s that all about? So here goes my thoughts…I hope it’s useful. Love you!!!
— Christina Acosta Robinson
I found her thoughts absolutely inspiring in their honesty, grit, and belief. I know you will, too. Let’s dive in….
Name: Christina Acosta Robinson
Parent Status: Daughter, 3 years old
What surprised you:
I had no idea how big I can love, and how strong I can be, how quickly I can become angry, how angry I can get, how loud I can yell, how passionate I can be, how protective I am. And I am surprised at her natural and enormous capacity for forgiveness, how easily she makes friends, how bold and confident she is, how funny and witty she already is. Now that she’s 3 years-old, this is definitely the most fun I’ve had as a parent.
What excited you:
When I was pregnant I was excited about our decision to do a natural birth. I was also excited by the fact that this was the biggest leap of faith that I had ever taken. I knew my health insurance weeks were going to run out before the baby was born, and we couldn’t afford health insurance for the baby after she was born. Thanks to God and Obamacare everything worked out in the end. I actually booked a national commercial in my 7th month–and that was just one of the many miracles that brought us through. My husband kept telling me the baby would bring with her everything she needed. And that’s exactly what happened. It was my first of many ongoing tests of faith.
What you look forward to:
I am really looking forward to her being old enough to bring her to auditions and workshops and rehearsals–because babysitting is expensive! I’ve had to bring her to auditions here and there, but it’s never as much of a big deal as I think it will be. I am always more nervous about bringing her to the audition than I am about the actual audition. Just last week my husband and I each had a callback scheduled at the exact same time. Mine was a very last minute thing–I had a 10am audition and they asked me to come back at 12:30. Well my husband brought her with him to his 12:30 callback and ran into a good friend there who was also auditioning. And he graciously volunteered to watch our 3 year-old for a few minutes while my husband went in to his audition. Things always work out in the end. And if they are not working out, then it’s not the end.
What challenged you:
I remember telling my husband, you know, if there were no such thing as being tired, and no such thing as being poor, motherhood would be a breeze. It’s the kind of tired that only parents understand. It is exhaustion to the point of not recognizing yourself and your reactions. If I could apologize to every parent I ever said I was tired to before I was a parent, I would–because I had no idea what I was talking about. The biggest challenge is having a bottomless well of patience while being torturously exhausted. It’s impossible. I put myself in time-out daily. And call on Jesus often.
What you think people should know:
If you want to have children, you really need to have a good reason. If you just want them, that’s not a good reason. If you want them because you feel like you should because your married and that’s just what married people do, that’s not a good reason. You shouldn’t have them because people expect you to, or because you’re pushing 30, or 39, or 42. You shouldn’t have them because you’re a woman and that’s what your expected to do.
You should want kids because you honestly want to live for someone other than yourself. And not in theory, actually live each and every second of each and every day for this person. You should want kids because you are willing to and mature enough to handle the extremes to which only motherhood can push you. You should have kids because you are honestly ready to put them before everything except God, and your spouse if you have one.
Now, I am not saying give up on your dreams, but if the pursuit of them begins to compromise your ability to effectively guide and nurture your child, then be willing to do what you need to do. You may need to hit the pause button on the career channel. I don’t feel that we have needed to hit the pause button yet, we are making it work, but it is something that I am willing to do if I ever need to. I have said no to many auditions and jobs that just weren’t worth hiring a babysitter for–either because of the role or the money or the distance. It’s actually been a good thing because it has made me more selective about the work I take on, and I like that. My time is more valuable now than it has ever been. So saying no to auditions and offers that don’t really excite my spirit keeps me available to roles that are really worth the effort it takes to make it all work. There is great power in saying no–in being selective. And there is great power in faith–in knowing that as long as you are doing the best you can and nurturing your talents, your gifts will continue make room for you in this industry–you and your family.
I actually booked a national commercial in my 7th month–and that was just one of the many miracles that brought us through. My husband kept telling me the baby would bring with her everything she needed. And that’s exactly what happened.
– Christina Acosta Robinson, Actress NYC
There is great power in saying no–in being selective. And there is great power in faith–in knowing that as long as you are doing the best you can and nurturing your talents, your gifts will continue make room for you in this industry–you and your family.
–..Christina Acosta Robinson, Actress NYC
Things always work out in the end. And if they are not working out, then it’s not the end.
– Christina Acosta Robinson, Actress NYC
What are your favorite quotes? Are you in pause or working through? Whichever it may be, power to you, mama. It’s all profoundly worthy.
More profiles coming soon!
If you are or you know a performing artist professional and mom who wants to share thoughts, answer these questions and shoot them to me at this contact form!