The trials of motherhood have been turned into novels, poetry, and war stories for friends. But if you are an actress, it is natural to write yourself a play. That is just what Amy Wilson has done, in her one-woman show, Mother Load. An Upper West Side mother of two, Wilson has been on Broadway, in movies and on sitcoms, but she characterizes her favorite ‘productions’ her two sons, Seamus, 2-1/2, and Connor, 4.
Wilson, who grew up in Scranton, PA, the oldest of six children, says she “used to be good at everything,” and was shocked to find herself questioning her abilities as a mother. She contrasted her own parenting style, one of constant worry that is prevalent in New York, with that of her mother, herself the oldest of eight: “Nothing rattled her,” Wilson says.
“What we do is overwhelming enough without worrying about doing more,” Wilson observes, but says many parenting magazines set mothers up for failure. She comments that conflicting advice, like “warning that an exersaucer is lethal and advising mothers to relax,” can make you “wig out.” She calls the show “a hilarious exposé of the cutthroat world of competitive parenting,” while admitting that she sometimes falls victim to it.
The stress goes all the way back to pregnancy; Wilson says she read expert advice in books, deciding that she “would gain only 25 pounds, would wear no frumpy maternity clothes, would have no drugs and no episiotomy at birth…and it didn’t happen.”
She characterized her small-town upbringing of one where she played outside until dark, and never went to a museum or the theater. Her sons, on the other hand, are regulars at the American Museum of Natural History (“dinosaurs!” she sighs) and at children’s theater around the city. “My kids have passports; they’ve been everywhere in the Caribbean on a direct flight from New York,” she says. Wilson believes that “the good outweighs the bad,” but adds, “Diversity is not as easy to come by anymore on the Upper West Side.”
In describing motherhood as “the most competitive job in New York,” Wilson is quick to point out that her show is not only for New Yorkers or moms. In fact, she originally wrote the show for a theater in Pennsylvania; people there “enjoyed the show in a different way,” she says. And she’s had single men tell her they identified with the show. She points out, “I really enjoyed The Nanny Diaries, which wasn’t my life.”
Wilson, who is pregnant with her third child, admits that she still reads all the advice she can get her hands on, but “with a seasoned eye.”
The 75-minute Mother Load, which runs through Saturday, June 16, has special Wednesday morning matinees so moms can drop off kids at school, see the show, and still make it to the afternoon pick-up. Their kids will have no idea that their moms spent the day laughing at their predicament.
Where: Sage Theater, 711 7th Avenue, between 47th and 48th Streets
When: Wednesday-Saturday 8pm; “Moms’ Matinee”, Wednesday 11am, Saturday 2pm.
Tickets: $45 at www.ticketcentral.com or (212) 279-4200