May 28, 2019
The whirlwind of May is coming to a close. We just wrapped up our homeschool co-op's five show run in four days of The Family Von Trapp, an adaptation of The Sound of Music.
May has become synonymous with drama season in our house, for better and for worse. So much of May is invested in the production and I miss May for what it once was. The season we dropped school work and headed outdoors for gardening, lengthy farm visits, and longer hiking adventures.
Oh, but that was many years ago now. I hold those memories dear in my heart, but there is no going back. Plus, it wasn't all roses in May. We were either moving or preparing to move during a string of Mays on the Gaspe Peninsula. And the frequency of those moves contributed to an early mid-life crisis. So yeah, not all great memories.
Life changes. Things don't stay the same. I'm pretty sure I'll look back on these particular Mays, when our kids were teenagers in a homeschool co-op musical theatre production, with nostalgia and fondness. So I do my best to be present for the experience, which is easier said than done.
I've talked about the production in past years, and I don't want to re-hash all of that here, but it was a significant part of May, so it deserves some telling.
The show is the main focus of the entire month, for our homeschool co-op and the families involved, on top of the other school year-end activities. And during the actual week of the production, which was last week, the schedule is 12 hour days, not including the commute through the nightmare of Montreal roadwork and traffic.
It's a fundraiser for our co-op, and a chance to showcase the disproportionate talent of our relatively small group of homeschool students and recent graduates. For those gains it costs a lot in time and effort for everyone involved, not to mention the inherent emotional minefield, navigated by parents and kids alike, of auditions and role assignments for a group of close-knit, mostly female, teenaged students.
The production bonds and solidifies our community, it brings everyone together in a way that only hard things do. It's hard for everyone but some of our members, children, young adults and adults alike, have more energy and enthusiasm for the process and enjoy it more. I am not one of those people.
In the first years of our involvement I struggled a lot with the commitment of time and energy required from the drama families. I had a lot of internal resistance to how things were done and felt so disorientated by the intensity of external pressures, deadlines, and schedules. Something I hadn't been used to in our homeschooling context up until that point.
Four years later I've learned where and how to set my boundaries with involvement, especially necessary with working. I know what to expect so I'm less disorientated by the demands. And I've learned to adopt a posture of conditional surrender (I surrender, for a set period of time), instead of internal resistance, to the whole thing. Resistance is not only futile but also a waste of precious energy. I adopt a head-down and get-through posture.
This was my best production season yet in terms of how I felt about my involvement. Did I say the same thing last year? It definitely pushed and stretched me, as it always does, but not into the depth of negative feelings I've had in past years. Partly because every year we make improvements and things run better, there's less to be negative about. But also because I've learned some coping strategies.
I wish I thrived in this dynamic, but I don't, I cope. Coping is better than not coping but it's not me at my best. It's me getting through.
The level of activity, the atmosphere of the venue, the driving, being with so many people all week long, and the shift into survival mode during those days of the actual show makes me feel numb. A deadening of my senses seems to be my coping strategy, it's how I get through.
This week that numbness will subside as routines are re-established. Like every other family in the play, I really need to go grocery shopping to restock our empty fridge. There was an invitation to a mom's nordic spa day this week. Part of me wants to go, but a stronger part of me wants and needs to stay home, knowing I'll reach equilibrium sooner having the week at home and getting my life back in order.
After taking last week off I will dive back into work, though with this post-production hangover it's hard to imagine the creative juices flowing once again, but previous experience tells me they will.
Previous experience, which I force myself to recall and remember when I feel discombobulated and out of sorts, also tells me that after each upheaval and disruption, life does finds its equilibrium once again. Usually it's a different equilibrium because things are always changing, but we will land there, for a couple weeks at least, maybe even a month if we're lucky, until the next big push, production, or change in routine.
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