"Everyone's Baby" / by Samuel Germany

 
18ish weeks pregnant
I can't sleep. Could be nerves, anticipation, etc. In nine hours we find out the gender of our baby. We'll also have our first chance to find out if things are developing okay. Angela has been nervous about that, and I think I have been carefully not thinking about it. At any rate, the last time I saw the baby it was just a bunch of pixels. But in 9 hours, this baby will have a name.
We had some friends over for a World Cup game the other day. Two got there early to make some grilled cheese and cookies. While they were being made Angela was looking longingly at the cookie dough. 
"I really want cookie dough, but Samuel won't let me." 
I decided to stay out of it.
"Just a little?" She asked to no one in particular.
Before I could say anything, one of our young friends said, "No cookie dough! That's everyone's baby!"
 
Everyone’s baby...
That really resounded with me, because it seems to be true. Angela and I have always been humbled at how much people have invested in our lives, particularly those at FMT. I suppose it is natural considering how much we have all worked together, struggled together, and achieved together. We are well and truly family. 
I was not able to experience my FMT family from the stage like usual, so I tried to be around as much as possible on workdays and helping out with rehearsals. I've been going to Cedar Valley with dad since I was four years old. If you go through the doors to E-building and keep going straight to those stairs to the second floor, you'll walk my Mt. Everest. I say that because I used to pretend we were climbing Mt. Everest. I would count the steps, and I'm pretty sure I got a different number each time. Dad would put on a movie in his office and go off and teach. They have those motion detectors everywhere in CVC, so I'd have to jump up every once in a while when they turned off.
When dad started FMT I would have blankets, books, and toys up on the landings during rehearsals. Even though dad made sure I had things to keep me occupied, I just ended up spending most of my time watching. Those people were my idols! Randy Johnson, Michael Lyons, Francois Dubois (never learned how to spell that one). I apparently gave my first acting advice as a 5 year old during a rehearsal of dad's first show, Godspell. I told Jesus (Randy Johnson) that he should die with his head down and to the side instead of straight down. And you know what? He took the suggestion!
I made friends there, had my first crushes there. I explored behind the lake, exchanged notes, learned how to dance, learned how to build. I was surrounded by people that took me from incompetence to competence in many areas. 
I really don't like not being in shows because it feels wrong. It's like going to a party with your friends, but instead of going outside you just look through the window. Almost every time I go through the performance hall when I'm not in a show, I'll go stand in the wells behind the curtain or run my hand along the brick wall as I walk back into the backstage area. Sometimes I'll do that as I talk to a friend that's in the show. Sometimes I'll do it alone and remember times long past with friends in other shows. When I see kids chorus members whispering in the well, that was me. When I see teens whispering in the well, that was me. When I see adults whispering in the well, that's me now.
Towards the end of the second act of Hunchback, I always thought about our baby when Quasimodo's parents came forward and his mother sang over him. It's why I cried EVERY SINGLE TIME. One performance, I imagined my baby crawling around on that stage. I want my baby to explore, to crawl in the same places I've walked. But then, unbidden, came the thought of how many people will love my baby
Our baby probably won't be able to spend much time crawling because so many will want to hold it. There are people that ALREADY love our baby. So many have reached out with congratulations and encouragement. Some have even said what they want our baby to call them. I don't know how many have said they can't wait to see me as a dad. I was thinking of this and I cried hard
How fortunate is my baby? FMT started when I was five, but my baby will experience it from the beginning of its life. My baby will get to develop it's own relationship with you! Goodness.
Thank you for the love and anticipation that you are already showing. Thank you for advice and thank you for those that have shown restraint at bombarding us with advice (trust me, we will ask). Angela benefits from comisserating about fluctuating diets and I benefit from commiserating about dealing with Angela's fluctuating diet. Thank you for your joy, thank you for your prayers, and thank you for keeping her from eating raw cookie dough.
There is another way the baby is everyone's baby, even if it's a bit of a stretch. I am everyone. I am all of you. Everyone from those I watched in Godspell when I was five to the ones I watched in Hunchback. I learn from people. Some of you I may have only watched from afar, some are my closest friends. I am the sum of our interactions and shared experiences. Every experience is training, you just never know when or how you're going to put it to use. Most of my training can be traced to FMT, either on stage or back stage. So many friendships and relationships trained me to be a better husband. And now that experience is training me to be a father. I've had previews of feeling protective, of the painful experience of watching people grow up, and walking with people through hardships. Your life lessons and experiences have formed me and are going to influence the formation of my child. No words exist that could adequately express how meaningful your input has been and will be, because you give the gift of an enriched life for us, and for our baby...
Everyone's baby 
 
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