How Working in Hollywood Prepared Me for Motherhood

Ever since I was seven, I had big Hollywood dreams of becoming a writer and director. When I moved out to Hollywood 18 years ago to pursue those dreams, the only job I could find was as a receptionist juggling seven phone lines. Then, I worked in a mailroom where I ran around town to deliver scripts, pick up lunches, and buy toothbrushes. I was actually handed a run slip with a used toothbrush attached. I think writing ‘Oral B’ in the comments section would’ve sufficed.

Next, I worked as a production assistant (PA) on a couple of TV shows where I kept creative adults hydrated and fed around the clock. If there were an Emmy category for Best PA in a comedy series, sub-category, “not screwing up lunches,” I would have definitely won. During those assistant years I kept reminding myself that these jobs were all in preparation for the BIG studio movie I was going to write and direct.   

Yeah . . . no. It did, however, prepare me for motherhood. Here are the similarities I have found between working as a Hollywood assistant and being a mother:

Pleasing the Boss

It was a good day if I didn’t get yelled at for some inane thing I did or didn’t do. And it’s a good day now if I can keep a child from crying. Both take skill. Simply put, a tear-free and tantrum-free day is a good day . . . whether it’s a baby or a boss.

Mind Reading

Sometimes a boss would mistake me for a mind reader. My college degree was in TV/Radio, not telepathy. Once I was told I was not taking enough initiative when it came to feeding the writers. I’m supposed to guess when they’re hungry? Of course this conversation from years ago makes complete sense now. Until kids are able to speak, you’re constantly guessing what they want by their gestures, whines, and cries. It’s a never-ending game of charades, which looking back, would’ve made some of those stressful mind reading moments at work more enjoyable.

You’re Always Cleaning Up Someone Else’s S**t

I did so many dishes and stocked so many fridges as a peon, that I let the dishes pile up and my fridge go bare at home. Whether it’s poop, toys, food, noses, hands, clothes, etc., the cleaning is never-ending. There is no secret night PA I could pawn off these chores to. But it’s not a bad idea to find one . . .

Post Traumatic Beeper Disorder

This affliction occurs when you think your beeper (or a mobile device of today) is blowing up when it’s not. As a PA, I was on call 24/7. On hiatus, I frequently grabbed my hip thinking my beeper was going off, but I wasn’t wearing a beeper. Now, instead of phantom beeps, I hear phantom cries. I shoot up in bed, or run in from another room, or stop whatever it is I’m doing because I thought I heard a child cry. When in reality, the room is silent. Insurance does not cover therapy for this condition. Trust me, I’ve asked.

Working Overtime

It’s everyday, in both worlds. Only in Hollywood, you’ll sometimes get paid for it. Job security in any business is hard to come by, but my kids can’t fire me because no one else is lining up at our door eager to wipe tushes or wake up at 5am. Looking back at where I started and thinking about where I thought I would be, I’ve realized that sometimes the original dream you were chasing turns into a different kind of dream altogether.

Your legacy might not be a blockbuster movie or hit TV show (for now); instead it might be really cute kids who love you unconditionally. And the weekend Hollywood house parties with booze are now weekend bouncy house parties with organic apple juice. But if you can survive the workplace, then you can definitely survive motherhood!

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Tags : confessions   motherhood   career   humor   

Katherine Stemp
Motherhood should come with interns. Just the way they pass out those baby caps in the hospital, you should get a pack of run slips and a post production assistant.
Elodie Nilsson
I can relate so hard! But looking back on those just seems like it was so much easier!