Meet Me

I’m Stephanie Ortiz. It’s been all about my husband and my girls for so long. I got to deal with little hands and feet and little problems. There wasn’t time to think about little me. Only, I turned 50 and life suddenly felt so big. I’m a big person again and I’m navigating new territory as a want-to-be-published-middle-aged Mama. I’d like to connect with other like-minded souls. Maybe you’re feeling like a washed up sippy cup (feel free to add your own discarded baby name of choice here), too? So I did what any self-respecting Mama would do, I took to the stage, and let me tell you that went WAY outside my comfort zone, and found fun in my midlife crisis. So now I’ve lived to tell.

The kids are no longer cute and they have since forgotten that they once called me Mommy, and that’s all I want to still remember.

So, I’m writing this blog to get crazy busy, then I won’t have to remember I’m not Mommy anymore.

Now it’s Mom. So what? It’s all in the name, anyway.

There was a day when we deliberated over what to name our kids. We might scar them for life with the wrong name. My husband and I couldn’t go with anything that began with b because the initials would spell out BO…Only to later find out our friend has those very initials, and she’s pulled it off just fine.

But it’s been fun to be able to play the name game again and with far less pressure to be the perfect parent. So that brings us to the question at the heart of it all: is it a muse or amuse? Hopefully, you caught that pun. Yes, it’s both. As any great muse will do, she’s here to inspire me, and, I’m willing to share her with you. Her name is Estefania and you’ll meet her shortly.

Even when I can’t, Estefania always promises TO INSPIRE.

But if we take away the article and use muse as a noun, we’re talking about getting lost in thought together. Just a forewarning here, my musings are filtered through my midlife lens. I’m 50, in case you needed help figuring out what I call middle age, I don’t have a choice about that. I also have two kids, a near teen and a teen, a puggle who barks like a rottweiler, and a husband, the only male in the family, who loves us all. Before we muse about that…

I promise TO MUSE.

Amuse: Finally the fun word. No matter the growing pains we encounter, I suppose we better grow up and not sideways, let’s be amused. I promise to amuse myself, and hopefully you, too. So we’ve reached the final goal.

I promise TO AMUSE.

But what’s up with the 4? The purpose of this blog is in the name, except there’s no reason to use the number four instead of “for”. It’s just cute, and what can I say? I need more cute things in my life now that my hair is practically grey and I’m no longer called Mommy…

Mama: That’s me! I’m Stephanie Ortiz (once I was called Mommy and now I’m just plain, old Mom). So why not get snazzy and be Mama? Truth be told, no one calls me Mama, except for Estefania. I think she does it just to rile me up. I’m from the suburbs of Philadelphia and for 15 years I’ve been a great “supporter of the arts” (I’d like to count those Mommy and Me classes for the great start to it all). I’ve been driving the kids to and from play rehearsals, performances, singing and dance lessons–not to mention, the stress over all those traffic jams. It’s what they love to do. That has always made my husband and I the “driving force” behind their success. Only, suddenly a giant hit me–I had to be part of that spotligtht, too.

Life took a turn when Jenkintown Music Theater was the first community theater to put on Mamma Mia!. The girls wanted to try out, and I put my foot down saying, “it’s too far, plus, I’d be dancing and singing in the aisles.” (Estefania hadn’t been born yet). So my 15-year old daughter rolled her eyes and said, “In that case, you might as well try out.” And the impact hit me, it was a full-on collision: I’m going to be 50. What am I going to be now that I’m all grown up? Life won’t let me be the person that I was. 

I was incompetent to the point of embarrassment: I couldn’t sing. I couldn’t dance. I couldn’t act. So I did what any self-respecting Mama would do, I joined them on the stage. I was going to have fun through my midlife crisis if it killed me! I went from being a behind-the-scenes Mom to an on-stage Mama and had the time of my life. And now, middle age mama takes to the stage, times two. Next up is Twefth Night (the musical).

Having spent 30+ years floundering to write a fiction book (I’ve been around so long that during my 7-year Twitter hiatus, all my writer friends got published, and most of them, muptiple times), so I made my midlife crisis collasis: I had it on the stage.

Since all my previous writing attempts are collecting silver fish in the basement, I decided to write a book on my community theater experience: Mama Meets Mamma Mia! Having Fun Through My Midlife Crisis only to have that idea thwarted, too, because nonfiction rules of publishing are very stringent: I need to be famous or have a ton of followers. At my previous growth rate, I calculate I’ll have to wait until I’m dead before anyone would even consider letting me write that memoir. But time is no longer on my side, I have unfinished business, and this blog is going to hold me accountable to write NO MATTER HOW MUCH I KICK AND SCREAM.

Midlife has called this Mama to see the world anew in a big way. Hopefully we’ll become friends and life-long supporters. (I’ve been known to be a great supporter of the arts!) We’ll be audience members of each other’s future stages and cheer one another on.

Meet my muse, Estefania! She’s funny, nonjudgemental, lighthearted and carefree. She took me through the past year of my life as if she were a tour guide running me through Disney. She’s the kidless version of me that doesn’t listen to my doubts, fears, worries, all the stuff that I have always let get in the way. She wasn’t meant to be my muse, just my stage persona. The same way Beyonce has Sasha Fierce. It all started a year ago when I was so nervous for auditions, the girls voice teacher recommended I be someone else. She said, “If you go out there as Stephanie, you’re going to be nervous and embarrassed. Have a different name. A different persona. What does she wear? How does she talk? Know everything about her.” It worked so well that when I got nervous leading up to the show, she asked me, “Where’s Estefania?”. So I brought her back. We could all use a little bit of her in our lives. Why squander her only for the stage and why keep her to myself?