We're featuring 35+ moms on our site and welcome suggestions on who to feature.NAME: MELISSA ERRICO
MARITAL STATUS: married
SPOUSE'S NAME: Patrick McEnroe
RESIDENCE: Little Italy, NYC
DAUGHTER'S NAME/AGE: Victoria Penny McEnroe, born April 21, 2006
1. Why did you decide to become a mom later in life? What factors precipitated this decision (or dictated it)?
My Broadway career was one of those things that just takes you by the hand and can steer you for decades down various paths and promises and challenges and you completely lose track of time! Also, my round face and curly hair (and shapely bottom) always made me appear more youthful than many of my peers and I continued to be an "ingenue" in the eyes of the top producers and conductors. I was playing Maria in The Sound of Music at The Hollywood Bowl at age 36, when I had first played the role at 26... and I look pretty much the same! I guess the theater is very intoxicating, and it's hard to stop and remember you have your OWN life to look after. The fantasy of it all is NOT your life, but while you are doing it, it seems so important and is too demanding to ever take the time to have a family.
I was 34, and married 7 years, when my OB-GYN actually asked me if I ever wanted a child and I was stunned and almost insulted... I literally hadn't thought about it yet! "Someday, sure," I said! Then, that day and that week and that month, I started to wake up and notice my feelings inside me. I guess an actress sometimes forgets her own needs. She's so busy pleasing others. Someone had to wake me up (and I'm so glad they did!).
2. What do you love about your career? What is most challenging about your career? What was your motivation to record your latest CD?
I love the many colors of my career. And by that, I mean the variety of it.
One minute I can be a woman in the Salvation Army (`Major Barbara,' a serious play by Shaw) and the next minute I can be in frills and lace singing the lead role of Mina in `Dracula' on Broadway. I simply love being able to shift and change and learn about writers and periods of history, and explore someone else's emotions and circumstances. What I find most challenging is the lack of security. One minute you can be the world's greatest star and then the next year, you are out of work and completely lost. I find that very hard on the spirit.
You have to look deep inside yourself and find your value and nurture your desires, and face so much rejection. I read books like "The Artist's Way" and "The Power of Now" and "Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway," and constantly try to renew myself and stay peaceful, never ever becoming angry and jaded, and worse, never becoming inactive. I do believe in being active. I do believe that even if you are walking a little to the left and then a little to the right, that somehow overall you are still moving forward.
Musical theater prepared me to see myself as both a musician and an actress, so over the years I have taken many different turns with these skills - and done a good deal of TV and film, as well as more and more concert work and recording records. If you really ask me what I feel is my greatest love: it's music and singing. When I sing, I feel I can touch people. My heart really is in my voice most of all. And the moments on Broadway and in all the musicals that I have done that I have shined the MOST have been in scenes that are loving, or soothing, or sad or sensual. I am always drawn to ballads and beautiful melodies. My soul really flies when I get to sing a beautiful and caressing song, or something really odd and mysterious. I'm not that type of belting and blow the roof off the theater diva. I'm just not comfortable with what feels like screaming or grand-standing. It's thrilling when someone does that, but it's just not me. I feel a lot of passion, but I'm not really designed to be very loud.
My motivation for my recording "Lullabies and Wildflowers" was to sing to mothers, to offer them music that is for baby but also for mommy's soul. I created a mothers' group out of my prenatal yoga class, and it has grown exponentially, to a rather large NYC adventure, which is called "The Bowery Babes." Over almost three years, I have listened and learned and met so many of my peers and shared this journey of becoming Moms (and many of them had children "later" in life). I sing in celebration of them, and for them and all of us who are on this vulnerable and beautiful path.
3. What have you experienced through motherhood that has also helped you in your work or personal life?
My love of Victoria has made me a very different person. Those hugs and those giggles and the way her eyes light up when she has learned something new... so much of my day is enhanced by these joyful moments. I'm not as concerned with whether the phone rang or how an audition went, or why I'm not in the newspaper much anymore. I have less time to worry about myself (if any at all!), and I find that when I do go to work, I work spontaneously and fast and without much analysis. I just pour my heart into things without filtering myself. I am too tired to worry as much anymore! I'm not as thin as I was, I'm not as prepared as I was, and I'm happier than ever! I want to sing to touch people and to have a wonderful time. What else really matters!? I'll leave perfectionism to other people now.
Also, having a miscarriage after Victoria was very humbling and even further deepened my appreciation of what I do have. I am trying to have another baby (might even be pregnant now, who knows...) and have really discovered that this entire enterprise of trying to become a mother is simply the most vulnerable and emotional time I have ever known. I respect the body more than I ever did. I also feel so much empathy for everyone who has struggled to get there.
4. What is a typical day for you like, managing both work and home life? Do you do any work from home? If so, how do you find that? Are you working more or less since becoming a mom?
When I am not touring, my typical day begins with the computer. Do I have an audition? Do I have an interview for my CD? I refer to my emails and often have a few things to work out. I do this while Victoria buzzes around me, making a mess of my desk. I try to always take her to a morning activity, a Bowery Babes art class or music or gymnastics. The nanny will pick her up from that class around 10:30 or 11 and I will go to a voice lesson or a rehearsal. I should go to the gym. I have meetings or rehearsals until 5 or 6. If I can, I get home by 4 or 4:30 to take her to a BB playgroup, while the nanny makes us dinner. Then she'll eat and I'll check more emails or return calls, and by 7 pm I can't juggle anymore. I do the bath and evening activities and then she's asleep by 8:30 or 9 pm. At 9 pm, I do my interviews for my CD. I try to do one a night, because I can't predict how early she'll wake, and I need to try to get to sleep by 10:30 or 11pm.
When I am touring, I leave for 2 nights and go somewhere like Cleveland or Alabama, have one rehearsal on a Thursday and then Friday a dress rehearsal and a performance for 2000-4000 people and then I'm on a plane again Saturday morning. I leave her with my husband or my mother, and if I'm gone more than two nights I take her with me (if it's on the east coast).
I am working more sporadically now that I am a Mom. I am not clocking in on a Broadway schedule every day and night. I am making recorded music, doing concerts for it with my band (at Bloomingdales, Barnes & Nobles and nightclubs) as well as touring with symphonies to make the better money.
To be busy, I have to be very creative and self-directed now, as I simply cannot sign a full-24/7 contract right now. It wouldn't be good for Victoria and I wouldn't be happy if I couldn't ever put her to bed because I was at the theater. I've had to create a new routine for myself, and it's very hard to manage all the different concerts and the masses of music I have to memorize, but it's the only way. I get to sing and that's important to me for my overall well-being. I have to sing.
5. How do you think being a later in life mom has affected your experiences as a parent (share both good & not so good)? Has anything about being a mom surprised you? What do you most want to teach your child?
I think overall I might have been happy if I started all this younger. I didn't realize how strong I was then, and it is very tiring and difficult physically, which I'm sure it always is, but I had so much strength eight years ago that I was only using at the gym! I do think however that I couldn't have done it any sooner because my head wasn't there. And Victoria is so much better off with a Mommy who is READY for her and totally excited to do this. There's no doubt I appreciate every moment so much.
Also, my husband was a professional tennis player and was traveling endlessly all over the world 10 months a year, and he wouldn't have been able to be home much at all. I was also exploring all facets of the business like film and TV, living in LA or Seattle or wherever we were filming, and there was simply too much flux. Now, we have changed and settled in our goals and some things have become simpler, so a child has a more stable world to occupy. Patrick is the USA Davis Cup Captain and a commentator, but his schedule is more manageable (if still a little crazy!).
Has anything surprised me? Well, I used to have a great Victorian waistline, and that's not quite the case anymore. So, that was surprising. Also, I am surprised how much of it comes so naturally. I love to talk to her and relate to her, and take her to lunch or breakfast and even though she doesn't actually speak English yet, we talk and talk. It amazes me what a private world we have created and how wonderfully honored I feel to be her best friend. I most want her to love herself and to not worry if she fails at something. I want her to know that trying is the greatest goal, and I would love her to not be too hard on herself.
6. Where do you turn to for support as a mom? Who is your support network and community outside of work? Anything online? Others in the entertainment field?
My support comes from my husband and my parents, and of course the Bowery Babes. I am simply in awe of Mia Borgatta, the owner of Lila Wellness Center (lilawellness.com) on Bowery Street, where we all met. She is a prenatal yoga teacher, doula and masseuse, and overall a very wise woman. I do think that she touched the lives of all of us deeply, and helped us to have confidence that we were all capable of being wonderful mothers.
7. What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a mom later in life?
I have no wisdom, but I say there is nothing that should hold you back. I have known so many women who have taken this path, and it invigorates you beyond your wildest dreams. Nothing you have built up will fall because of children. Everything will thrive. You will figure it out for yourself, and you mustn't look too far ahead and worry. Just take it step by step,and eventually you will have traveled many miles.
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