Stage moms are an enigma. You realize that they are one of life’s great mysteries when you sit and really ponder who they might be as people, because there are no clues whatsoever since whoever that elusive personality was or is, has been taken over by the notion that their child has the makings of a star. Partners are neglected, hobbies abandoned and any other offspring who don’t possess that je ne sais quoi star quality are relegated to second favorite—or worse. Stage moms are on a relentless quest for stardom, exposure and attention for their talented, precious little diamonds-in-the rough that you’ve never heard of (but by god, if they get their way, you will hear about their daughters).
If you’ve ever asked yourself if you are a stage mom, here are 15 signs of a somewhat common disorder known as 'stage momaging,' so you can confirm your status.
15 You fill your time with your child's activities
Your kid is constantly en route to rehearsal. You’re out of bed ridiculously early—before the sun rises—to ensure they make ballet practice, exercise class or whatever it is they're into. School is an interruption, really—a necessarily evil—time wasted on reading books, math and learning (your child won’t need any of that because he or she is going to be a star). Who needs grammar, physics, Sir Isaac Newton and crap like that? Gravity? Pfft. Who needs it?
After school, there are more practices, rehearsal and auditions. Well, maybe school’s not a complete waste because while they’re away you can spend the time sewing costumes, harassing casting directors and posting head shot portfolios to Facebook and Instagram in case a William Morris agent comes trolling around your pages. You never know!
14 These are the words of your daily vocabulary
‘Casting director,’ ‘agent’ and ‘audition’ (always auditions—so many auditions!). ‘Take one!’ ‘Take two!’ “Take thirty seven!’ (Argh!) ‘Can you be happier?’ ‘Can you be sadder?’ ‘Can you be a bit happy and not so sad?’ Of course, you know exactly what all this direction means since you live and breathe it. If only your budding Jennifer Lawrence or Liam Hemsworth would channel your interpretations onstage!
Here are some other words you hear when you climb onstage to demonstrate what they want from your famous little bean-to-be: "Mom—uh, Mom. We’re the directors." ‘Uh, Mom can you stay off camera?" "Cut! Uh, Mom, I have to ask you again to stay off camera" and "Cut! Okay, Mom? Can you go wait in the communal dressing room, you know with the extras and crew—off set?"
13 You borderline harass casting directors
Okay, so maybe no one has ever called security on you. You haven’t gone that far—but it’s taken tremendous willpower to hold yourself back in more than a few instances. You used to be way, way, worse but now you’re only down to 20 texts a day. That’s not much, we mean come on. People just need a little nudge sometimes to remember you’re alive and keep your little starlit dumpling on their radar. Being a pain in someone’s ass is the price a casting director pays. Why not edit a video of your charming little superstar going through their day from dawn 'til bedtime, post it on YouTube and send the link to every casting director you ever met in your life. Why not?
12 You have jazz hands carpal tunnel syndrome
There are no gestures show folks execute that make you cringe with embarrassment. You see cliché nowhere, ever. Everything is fresh and original if done under hot lights—that’s the criteria, that’s where you come alive. You can do the box step and jazz hands with the best of them and often do. In fact, you do jazz hands so much from demonstrating the art of it to your little one, that you have jazz hands cramps. It’s like carpal tunnel syndrome for stage moms. You even keep a pair of those drugstore tensor bandages around for those times when you overdo it and bench yourself and swear off from doing jazz hands for a few days to recoup (which is torture!).
11 You sit through scenes like this
You sit through these and actually, genuinely (with every fiber of your being), enjoy them. While a scene like this is torture for anyone who did not beget one of the little performers—you (you stage mom, you) genuinely revel in it. You have friends situated at every possible angle filming your kids and you later spend hours editing the tireless footage into a running narrative which you post to YouTube and all over the interwebz, certain that this will be the performance that finally gets your kids noticed! Listen to how Junior killed the second verse of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." Little Emma’s rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" was sick. You create many different online aliases to heap praise in comment sections and all your friends better ‘like’ it or they’ll be dead to you.
10 You Photoshop pictures like this
Seriously...and you could do it all day. You’ve become an expert at it. If something doesn’t come out perfect, if one of those confetti's falls the wrong way, a balloon strays, a belt is crooked or there’s any lipstick on your teeth that you didn’t catch before the camera’s click—you’re on it like a comet with your re-touching tools. You even signed up for those Photoshop courses they run in the evening at high schools but you were already so well versed that you taught the teacher some new tricks. Then, you asked for a refund but they refused, though agreed to hire you to run next semester’s course but—are they kidding? Do they not appreciate your purpose in life? Evening gigs cut into prime audition times for your budding Justin Bieber/Ariana Grande.
9 You consider this a child in her natural habitat
This is how a child should look. You believe that nature can always be improved upon. There is always room for improvement—whether you’re a stage mom or mother nature. There is no bad face day that can't be fixed with four coats of mascara over false eyelashes and some blush. Your child has a chest-sized makeup case on wheels because carrying it is out of the question. Your monthly makeup budget could feed a small family for a year. There are makeup stains all over your child’s feathers and frou-frou—and that’s how it should be—the way nature intended. This is the picture you hang on your fridge and aspire to—for your child’s sake (it's the equivalent to dieters posting pictures of slender women to their refrigerators for ‘thinspiration’).
8 You're kind of like Svengali, though you might not know what that means
That’s because Svengali is one of those 20-dollar words that people use to show off and hey, you don’t find traditional education in the classical sense important—so the Svengali reference might escape you (voice class, acting lessons, etc. is the kind of schooling that really matters).
Just in case your curiosity has been piqued, Svengali is a character from George Du Maurier’s 1895 novel, Trilby, who takes charge of a budding singer, propelling her to stardom, manipulating and taking advantage along the way. Sound familiar? Never mind. Who wants to look like Svengali, who has the most extreme case of cataracts on record and is in serious need of an industrial-strength makeover? Where are those Queer Eye for the Straight Guy guys when you need them?
7 You do know what 'vicariously' means—you've heard it often enough
And you finally just googled it to find out what that word meant. You were not offended. It doesn’t seem to be an insult. You do live for your child. He or she will realize your dreams. They are not a separate individual with their own wants and needs—they are merely a conduit through which to express yours—the ones you didn’t realize, the ones you left unsatisfied. Well, maybe that’s going too deep, but if you can’t be the one under the hot klieg lights with your name up on the marquee, let the next best thing happen—let it be your mini-me. You will stand back and bask in their reflected glory. Be famous by association. Hey, it’s fame all the same.
6 This may not be your child's closet, but it's not far off
You had to take two extra jobs to afford her pageant stuff or her clothing budget. She has to have a skirt in every shade of blue (indigo, sky blue, pale blue, navy and pastel blue), every shade of green under the sun and every color on that color wheel they hand out in art class. You, stage mom extraordinaire, have all that covered. Her closet has busted out, broken free and her clothes have taken on a life of their own—first taking over one bedroom and then another and now they’ve taken all the bedrooms on the upper floor of your home. Your nickname for upstairs now is ‘the closet.’ Everyone sleeps on pull-out couches in the basement and living room. The sacrifice is worth it!
5 You have a competing closet of your own
Of course, you need your own amazing closet to make your appearances alongside your little superstar-in-the-making. You have to establish yourself as a personality as well if you want to get noticed. It’s what you really always wanted for yourself and are merely projecting your dreams onto your child and trying to convince your son or daughter that these dreams of yours are their own. It’s a curious mind trick that takes time and perseverance but you have all the time in the world. Besides, you look good in a furry Stetson and all the accoutrements, while you dress your child down for the cameras, when you’re invited to appear alongside them. Let them look like a hipster geek for the day and not steal your spotlight, for once.
4 You've got all the moves down in case your child forgets
You are more than ready, willing and able to cue them! And how could they miss your cues as you are swinging your arms like a deranged traffic cop, miming their choreography without missing a move and do not hold back, down to the artful finger points? Hot damn, the director should have hired you. You smack the people sitting in the seats around you with your vigorous and theatrical fanning gestures but you don’t even notice, so lost are you in your child’s routine that nothing else exists. You have never felt more alive than right now! These moments are what you live for! Like a gambler right before the roll of the dice—this is how it feels to be alive!
3 You swear you exert no pressure on your baby!
The weight of the world is on your baby's shoulders—and you put it there. It’s for a good cause though. The thing to do is look at it like charity. It’s selflessness on your part for the betterment of your lil' Bubba who has the chance to do your life over again for you. You are enabling them to do a kindness—and the recipient of that kindness is you. See? It closes the circle. The circle of life. How it should be.
You’ve sacrificed for them (so much!) and these brief and shining moments onstage under the hot lights is your reward. Your child's every performance is your fix—and just like there’s no crying in baseball, there’s no crying onstage, either—unless it’s on cue.
2 Your child has a tantrum as soon as you pick up a camera
Sometimes, your little ones just get so tired of posing for you, stage mom. Will you ever be satisfied? Will there ever be enough pictures in the world to satisfy you? You are like an artist searching for that elusive masterpiece through the lens that constantly eludes you and you must keep trying to get it right. Your subjects are squirming, tantrum-throwing little uncooperative devils that won’t take direction. How to rein these unruly little tyrants of your fates in? Everyone has a bad day. Just offer to buy them a new toy to get one more picture. You know that the next one will be the defining image that will catapult your little starling into the stratosphere with all the other stars (where he or she belongs!).
1 You have a bunch of pictures like this
Doesn’t everyone? And if you don’t have a picture like this of you with your kids, you’d better get one stat because they won’t stay young forever. You can say of your own child: "I knew them when..." or "Here we are before they hit the big time and left me behind, before they finally filed for emancipation to free themselves from my stage momaging." But let’s not get ahead of ourselves!
So put on a glittering cabaret showgirl type costume, dress your little munchkins up in tinfoil, sequined or glittery outfits, hire a professional studio photographer and seize the moment. You don’t need anti-frizz pomade for your hair—you’re perfect just as you are.