In the week leading up to Mother's Day, we'll be sharing a handful of personal essays written by The New Victory Theater/The New 42nd Street staff members. We gave them instructions to interview their moms about how and why the arts were integrated into their childhoods and received back these touching stories! For young mothers and parents looking to introduce their own children to the arts, join us for Baby Rave happening May 7-18 at the Duke on 42nd Street! Happy Mother's Day!
by Siobhan Santini
To describe my mother in just a short blog post is doing her a great injustice, but I'm going to have to try. My mom, in a nutshell, is a 4"11 ball of fun. A born-and-bred New Yorker, this Latina firecracker that I call “mom” has truly been way more than a mother to me. I can also proudly say that she is my best friend. She is one of the funniest and sweetest women in the world. If my mom has arrived, the party has begun. My mother makes friends everywhere she goes. She literally has contacts on her iPhone that come from her morning commutes throughout the years.
Most importantly, my mother made my childhood one of the most amazing experiences. Looking back now, I don't think there was one holiday, weekend, or maybe even weekday that didn't have an adventure. Mom also had a strong impact on my goals and aspirations in more ways than she realizes.
As a young high-school student, my mom went out of her way to take creative classes. She joined a sketching class as well as a printing class. She always speaks with excitement about her craft expertise. I am grateful that she shared her love for crafts with me when I was younger. To this day I cannot celebrate a holiday without doing a craft, making some kind of sweet, or having a themed manicure take place. She and I always get excited to tackle creative projects and she is always my go-to gal pal for any crafty fix-it.
Mom was quite the mover and shaker back in her day (and still is today). My aunts and uncles used to lay on the bed with their PJs on, watching my mom get ready to go out dancing. They looked to her to teach them The Hustle, and she was always ready to entertain them. Though she was obviously talented, she never took dance lessons. They were available, but not like they are today, which is why I wanted to ask her why she put me into dance classes throughout my childhood. "I just wanted you to have what I didn't have,” she said, “to be exposed to more and to be more cultured." And that's exactly what she did.
When I was around 5 years old, I was enrolled in dance school. I remember it very well. It was Janet's Dance Studio in Brooklyn. My mom and dad would both sacrifice their time to take me to class every Saturday morning. Every summer there was a big recital. With that came financial sacrifice for costumes, photo shoots and a copy of the recital tape of course. As I got older, the classes became more intense, and I had more costumes and more class days during the week. I also got accepted to the School of American Ballet in Lincoln Center, and my parents never missed a beat: my mom made sure my bun was neatly on top of my head. She didn't take me to every class, but she was always very present, cheering me on.
During my lifetime here in New York, I have seen so many different kinds of shows, and I have been introduced to all forms of the arts. It's my parents I have to thank for that. I even have them to thank for my job at the New Victory!
It is because of my mom that I have been, since I was little, singing along to movies like The Wizard of Oz, West Side Story, Grease, The Wiz, and that's just to name a few. If these films are on, and my mommy and I are in the same room, a reenactment will take place.
When I asked my mom what advice would she give to herself about raising me, she was at a loss. I would even go as far to say that she was slightly angered by the question. She said, "Ay Siobhan I don't know! Why would you ask that? I wouldn't say anything, because I would be scared it would somehow change how everything is and was. I don't have advice because I like how everything went and who you became. I guess I wish I could've spent more time with you."
Well, mom, that was beautiful, and I am here to tell you that you have given me everything in my life that a little girl could ever want. I never ever felt that you weren't present. In fact, I look up to you because of what a powerful working woman you are. Thank you for being amazing.