It was 1 p.m. and I was halfway to Charlotte, NC when I got the call from Production.
I was on my way to shoot another Ford commercial, a campaign that had turned into about a dozen commercials, voiceovers and print jobs. (I’m crazy grateful!)
I moved to the Southeast just after giving birth because it was closer to family so they could visit and help with the baby. But also, the opportunities in the film business had really grown here and as a nomadic actor, I had to go where the work was.
This was my 12th commercial shoot with Ford but in the previous year, I had always figured out a way to bring my son with me so I could breastfeed him or pump when I wasn’t shooting. This was the very first time that I was leaving him. And not only was Mama leaving him, but Dada wasn’t there either. I was dropping him off with my mom and sister at her house for FOUR LONG DAYS. And then she said it…
“Hey Megan, we’ve moved your fitting that was scheduled for today to tomorrow.”
Shit. I pulled off the highway. What am I gonna do???
Now, this may seem like a no brainer to some of you…but let me break it down. I had two options:
- I could turn around and drive one hour back to Raleigh, NC where my son was napping after already saying “Goodbye, I love you. I’ll see ya in 4 days.”
- I could drive one more hour and arrive in Charlotte to an empty hotel where I could flip open this laptop and start writing.
I’m a planner people! That’s why I make a good producer. The PLANNNN was to say goodbye to baby, drive to Charlotte, have a fitting, order room service, open this computer and start working on the 200+ emails that had accumulated as well as work on some much needed website maintenance and acting career goals.
Rescheduling was NOT a part of the plan.
I checked in with myself. What was my gut, my spirit, my inner voice telling me to do?
And then it hit me…GUILT.
GUILT GUILT GUILT GUILT MOTHA EFFING GUILT.
Like a punch to the stomach. Like a brick hitting my chest. Like pounds of sand falling onto my shoulders, clouding my judgment, blinding my brain.
I could spend one more whole night with my son and he’d be away from me for one less night. He needs me. I could be visiting with my sister and my mom whom I only get to see three times a year. It’s only an hour away! Why is this even a question?
I called my husband. “Babe – what do I do?” He went through the options with me, which of course, I already knew. But sometimes, it helps to talk through them to hear yourself.
He said, “You have a choice.” Duhhhhhh. Duh. Duh. Duh. I wanted to scream!
The Guilt Monster barreled in and finished the sentence for him, in a very monster-like voice, “You choose your family or yourself. You are selfish or you’re not.”
FUUUUUUUUUCK. When you put it that way…
And then…F&#! you Guilt Monster!!!!
What is this blistering, festering, horrible, gut wrenching feeling of guilt that women go through? Do men feel the same way? Do they put these pressures on themselves the way I am? The way women do? Does my husband feel the same gut wrenching feeling when he leaves his son for work each morning? Has he ever been paralyzed with the guilt of missing his next school event or big milestones?
Why do I?????
I wanted to go. But I wanted to cry. I wanted to be with myself and work. I had a budget to change, a schedule to make, reading and writing to do, and hundreds of emails to delete. I had been gearing up for this work time or “me” time for two weeks.
This guilt is new to me, but sadly and also refreshingly, I am not alone. There are women in top levels of business talking about it. And I’m telling you, it needs to be talked about more. It needs to be questioned, discussed and talked through.
For the next two months, I am shooting a movie in Puerto Rico. I will be on location in Puerto Rico for two months. This is definitely the longest I’ve been away, even from my husband. Two precious months of those special growing, “they’re only young once” years.
How am I going to do it???
Well…I just am.
Do I feel guilty sometimes? Yes.
But I am going to Facetime with my son every night. I’m going to tell him I love him. I’m going to cry from missing him. I’m going to thank my husband and his grandparents for taking good care of him.
I will be ok. And so will he. And I hope one day he will be proud of me.
I didn’t turn back to Raleigh that day. I finished the drive to Charlotte. I sat down at my laptop and I wrote this blog. I was missing my boy, but feeling alright.