Recently, a comic I'm friends with wrote on Facebook that he had to turn down a major career opportunity because he had a young son. He felt it wasn’t worth losing the time spent with his child even if his child might not even remember it. I applauded him for making such a strong choice. I did the same many years ago when my son was four. When I decided to get pregnant, there were not many female comics in stand-up comedy. The thought of having a kid was considered career suicide. Since I have always been one to go against the grain, I proudly said, "Screw what everyone is saying, I’m having a baby." I continued to do comedy on the road until I was eight months pregnant and was informed by the airlines that I wouldn’t be allowed to fly. I guess they were terrified of someone having a baby midair. There aren't enough cocktails napkins to clean up that mess!
After I had my son, I was itching to go back on the road. Without even thinking about it I brought him along -- everywhere. I brought my son with me on college gigs, bars, clubs in Vegas, I mean everywhere. Around the time he was nine months old, I had to start leaving him at home with my husband. It was killing me to leave him to go on the road but I was the primary breadwinner at that point. "I am woman, hear me roar." Thanks a lot 1970’s for making me feel I could do anything. Except they never mentioned the actual pain you feel forging ahead in your career and leaving your kid behind. It'd kill me when I'd leave early in the morning to catch a flight and my son would start sobbing “please don’t leave, Mommy.”
I eventually found a steady gig in Vegas for a summer and was able to bring my son with me. I took advantage of the "night-time daycare," we lived in the hotel and played in the pool everyday -- it was heaven. At the end of the summer, I was offered a contract for a year. My husband and I decided to go for it. One year turned to three, which turned to five at which point I left for another gig in Vegas. 10 years had passed and my son was no longer a baby.
Seven years ago we moved back to New York City. I'd been out of the comedy scene for a long time. A decade does wonders to a lady who wants to stay competitive in her field, I'll tell ya. Not only was I out of the loop, the internet had exploded and so had my competition. Could I have made different decisions to keep my career path stronger? Absolutely. Would I have changed sacrificing gaining ground in my career over spending quality time with my kid, not a chance. I know I did the right thing every time I see my son smile. (Awwwwwww. I know.)
Plus he's going to end up taking care of me in the long run anyway, right? At least I know I've got that long-term investment working on my behalf.