Sunday, October 4, 2009

I Couldn't Do This Alone

I don't know how anyone could be a single parent. This is hard enough with the two of us. Zoe is the easiest baby ever - calm and quiet and happy - and she's sweet enough to be present when I teach without being too great a distraction most of the time. But. This week Steve's been gone every night, playing a concert cycle in Elgin. I hadn't realized how much I depend on him to take on an hour of the fussy time in the evening so that I can get an extra bit of practicing or reed work in. How much it helps that every now and then I can run around the house and accomplish a bunch of things really fast without a baby on me.

If all I had to do was look after Zoe and the house - if I could be a full-time mom - I think that would be easy. My organizational skills are honed from years of multitasking. But that kind of schedule is not feasible. Not in this day and age and economy - neither one of us alone can make enough as a classical musician to maintain a family - and not for my personality. I am a professional performer, and I need that stimulation in my life. Practicing obviously goes along with that - it's no fun to perform poorly - and I have to make reeds for myself so I might as well keep my reed business up. That keeps my skills sharp and brings extra money into the house. And I couldn't give up teaching. I love the students I have and I love the various parts of my brain that I get to access trying to help different people work on different skills. It's the hours of practicing and reed work and teaching on top of raising Zoe and running the house that make things difficult. Or perhaps I should say that it's raising Zoe and running the household that makes it tricky to maintain my career.

Granted that it is a noble and important thing to raise a child - still I feel that I have to be the best I can be professionally. I certainly couldn't ask Steve to compromise anything I'm not willing to, so that's two of us working on our own creative and demanding personal projects as well as giving full-time attention to an amazing new little person. Frankly, we could use a third adult in the house. My heart goes out to single parents everywhere, and I can't believe how lucky I am to not be one.

3 comments:

  1. I've been staring at my computer screen trying to figure out how to respond to this post. The first thing I want to say is that the whole juggling act does get a bit easier. I'm not sure if Zoe is on a schedule yet, but once she is you'll be able to plan your day a bit more easily.

    I have to be honest, I think it's incredibly difficult to be a great mom, great clarinetist, teacher etc. I can't tell you how many times a week I ask myself how did I end up here? Don't get me wrong, I love the kids and wouldn't trade them in for anything but trust me, being at home raising your child and keeping up with the house is honestly, the hardest job I've ever had. Trying to find balance in my life has been the best thing for me. I have time to be me the clarinetist and teacher but also be a great mom when I'm with them. When I'm home, I am mom all the way and vice versa.

    I think we have both embarked on a very exciting but unknown journey. Let's keep in touch and maybe we can help each other through the unknowns.

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  2. Audrey, thanks so much for responding! I agree- let's keep in touch on this. Just knowing that I'm not the only one struggling with this juggling act is so much better!

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  3. I hear you, sisters!!! Love this thread. The Art of the 20 Minute Practice Session. Sounds like a book title, no?
    All the best Mamas,
    Emily

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