FORSYTH COUNTY — Mother’s Day is always a special time for families.
However, the day can take on even more meaning for mothers and children who share hobbies or interests such as theater and athletics.
In today’s Mother’s Day edition, we spotlight three Forsyth moms who have much more than just genetics in common with their children.
The term “family drama” has taken on a whole new meaning for Meg Davenport and children Parker, 15, and Lily, 9.
Son Parker, who attends Forsyth Central High School, said he and his mother have shared an interest in the theater arts for as long as he can remember.
“She was working at the community theater in Titusville, Fla., where I was born, when I was born, so I grew up there,” he said.
Added his mother: “He came to work with me when he was a toddler.”
That tradition of working on shows together has continued throughout Parker and Lily’s lives, with the kids acting in a range of productions at church and various community theatrical groups in Forsyth and nearby counties.
Parker is also active in Central’s drama program, and he and Lily, a student at Cumming Elementary, both take classes at the Forsyth Academy of Performing Arts, which opened last summer.
Davenport mostly takes a behind-the-scenes approach, primarily working on set design and construction.
She’s also directed a couple of the shows her kids have been in, but never when they have had a major role.
“Directing them, I don’t think I would feel comfortable casting them in a big role,” she said. “I would find that to be awkward.”
The kids also give mom a hand with creating sets.
“Sometimes you get to help with [a set] and the other actors and actresses are like, ‘Wait a minute. You painted that?’ so that’ cool,” Lily Davenport said.
When they’re acting, mom sometimes gives the kids pointers.
“They complain sometimes when I give them notes in the car on the way home,” she said. “I try not to watch early on because the director’s the director. But, sometimes towards the end, if I happen to see the show, I’ll be like, ‘Did the director tell you to that?’”
While they said it’s sometimes annoying, the kids don’t seem to mind her notes too much.
“She knows what she’s talking about,” Parker said. “There’s no shortage of good advice.”
His mother said she’s glad her children inherited her love of theater for several reasons. First of all, she joked, there was no way she could be a soccer mom and “have to sit out in the hot sun to watch them play.”
Also, having her kids involved gave her insight into the parents she worked with before having children.
“I taught theater for years … and I thought the moms were nuts,” she said with a laugh. “They would call up and say, ‘I know your program doesn’t start until the sixth grade, but my child is so talented even though she’s only in the third grade so I think you really need to see her.’ And I would be like, ‘You’re insane.’”
But after her son’s first performance in a church play he was 3, she said “a light went off.”
“He came down the aisle, bawing like a sheep and, honest to God, I thought, ‘This is the most spectacular theatrical performance that has ever occurred; no actor has ever looked better than my son playing a sheep, saying baw.’
“And then I was like, ‘Oh, they’re not insane; they’re just moms.’”
Unlike some mothers who inspired their children to take on their hobbies, Frances Warth drew inspiration from her daughters’ interests.
She said after watching Caitlin, 15, and Danielle, 12, take lessons at Cumming Dance Academy for more than 10 years, she wanted to try her hand (or perhaps feet) at dance.
“Ever since they were little, we used to go to the holiday and the end-of-year performances and there is just an energy during the whole performance,” she said. “The whole weekend of the show, there’s a whole unique energy going on and the dances are just so beautiful.”
After discovering that the academy offered adult classes, she knew she wanted to get in on being a part of that special energy.
“For so many years, I had said, ‘Oh, I would love to do that,’” she said. “I was getting older and I said, ‘I don’t want to keep wanting to do something. I’m just going to do it.”
So three years ago, she enrolled in her first dance class.
“I had never danced before in my life, never as a child,” she said. “The first time I ever put on tap shoes or jazz shoes was when I came here three years ago.”
Since then, Warth said she and her daughters have formed a special connection through the artistry.
“It’s been a great experience,” she said. “We get to do so much together and I like it.”
She said becoming a dance student has given her a whole new prospective on the interest of her daughters, who attend West Forsyth High and Vickery Creek Middle schools.
“We have a much more intimate relationship because dance consumes so much of their time,” she said.
She particularly enjoys getting to be back stage with her daughters during major performances.
“We get to share things backstage and that’s a big part of the fun of being in the shows and a lot of the reason why I do this,” she said.
Danielle, who spends more of her time in dance lessons than her sister, said it is nice having her mom backstage, although sometimes she hates that she has a different view of her performances.
“It’s nice because when I’m backstage getting ready to go on, she’s always there,” Danielle said. “But it’s also not that much fun because she has to watch my dances from the side a lot instead of from the audience.”
When they’re not on stage or in a class, Warth said she and her daughters use a dance space in the family’s basement.
“We have a dance floor and a ballet bar,” she said, noting that her daughters, especially Danielle, are quick to gives her advice.
“Danielle has given me a few tips and then she starts to teach me all the names [of the moves] and that takes years and years to learn,” she said, noting that the girls seem to enjoy being more advanced at dancing than their mom.
“I think they like telling me not so much what I’m doing right, but what I’m doing wrong,” she joked. “I think they enjoy that.”
Despite the critiques, Warth said she loves performing with her daughters.
“It’s awesome because we get to be in the same dance together and we get to have my husband take the picture at the end of all of us in our costumes together,” she said.
Jill Short started coaching lacrosse for her son.
“The girls coach at North [Forsyth High School] had quit and my oldest son was a freshman,” she said. “They said if we can’t have a girl’s coach, we can’t have a girls team and if we can’t have a girls team, we can’t have a boys team. So that’s kind of how I got into coaching.”
What began as a way to help her son keep doing what he loved quickly turned into an unbreakable bond with all three of her boys.
“It definitely has had us connect. It’s something we all enjoy so it’s been great,” she said. “Those rides to and from games and to and from practice … some really good conversations take place.
“Meaningful bonds take place in those moments and I don’t think we’d have quite the same bond if we didn’t have those many lacrosse trips.”
Her oldest son, Britton, 22, continues to play lacrosse for fun, but her 19-year-old son Tanner plays on scholarship at Shorter College in Rome. Her youngest son, 14-year-old Dellan, plays for North Forsyth Youth Lacrosse.
The heavy involvement in the sport has drawn the family closer together. That includes her husband, Jim, who plays for an adult league.
While Short has been dedicated to her girls’ team — finishing higher this year than any other year — she made sure to be there for all of her sons’ games too.
“I was pretty vocal from the stands, so sometimes they probably wish I wasn’t in the stands, but at the end of the day, we can get a good chuckle about it,” she said.
Tanner said he didn’t necessarily enjoy his mom’s screams at the time.
“[But] I was glad she was doing it because it showed me that she cared,” he said. “It was really big for me when she did that.”
He said his mom came to just about every game he played, both in high school and now in college.
“Her dedication to coming to my games and to my brothers’ games would have to be the most special thing to me because I know sometimes that’s really tough for parents,” he said.
“Being around as much as she was and as much as she is now is definitely the biggest thing that makes her most special to me.”
Staff writer Jennifer Sami contributed to this report.