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Work/Life Balance, AGAIN. Again.

I love to work. 

I’m happy playing in orchestras, and would gladly do so every single week, but some weeks are slow, and some months. 

I enjoy teaching.  The challenge of finding the right words to inspire incremental improvements in many different people is a fascinating one which uses many facets of my brain and gives me pleasure. 

I am proud of my reed business.  It’s grown enormously since I started it 16 years ago, and I get to pour my entrepreneurial spirit into it.  Plus, I pretty much always have good reeds to play on since I’m making so many every day. 

I love my annual recital tour, which keeps me learning (and inventing) new repertoire and gives me my spotlight fix.  And I’m ecstatic about Musicians for Michiana, my new chamber music series, which is forging new connections in the community and just being a lot of fun along the way. 

I also adore my daughter, and here’s the challenge.  When the orchestra work is slow, I worry about our family’s income, so I run a reed special, or accept additional students beyond my self-imposed limit.  These things give me a feeling of control and provide stability for our finances.  When things get busy again, though, and I string together multiple weeks of heavy playing, it’s a real struggle to keep up with my teaching and reed commitments, and I sometimes worriy that Zoe won’t even remember me in her memories of childhood.  She will remember watching movies or going out for treats with her daddy, and that there was some lady, somewhere in a back room, grumbling and scraping at little pieces of damp wood instead of playing with her.

I do exaggerate somewhat.  Most afternoons I’m able to play with Zoe, and practice cello with her, and sometimes we cook together.  Now that it’s spring, we’ve resumed our habits of after-dinner walks, and I get her up for breakfast and school every morning. It’s just that I work ALL the rest of the time, and next week is scaring me.

I’m traveling this weekend.   Because I’m out of town through Monday, I had to move all of my Monday students to Friday.  But my week was empty so that didn’t seem like a big deal.  Then, a colleague asked me to play a quintet gig on Thursday.  I wasn’t busy, so of course I agreed.  I accepted a church gig for Sunday morning, and then suddenly I was asked to play a concert in Chicago on Wednesday and Saturday.  Couldn’t turn THAT down, so suddenly all my Wednesday students needed to be rescheduled.  At this point, there is a student in every single nook and cranny this week, and multiple long commutes, and OH, first I’m flying across the country for an audition.

I love every single thing I do - but I won’t see Zoe from Saturday morning til Tuesday night, and not on Wednesday after she leaves for school, and barely on Thursday, and I MIGHT make it home on Friday in time for her bath, maybe.  And none of this planning includes reed-making, which will inevitably take place during the “grown-up” time after she goes to bed and before I collapse exhausted into mine.  When do I, for example, visit with my husband, whom I love?

Here’s what I know.  In the summer we will have all the time in the world.  We are planning on camping, and swimming, and hiking all summer long, interrupted only by a few isolated outdoor concerts and perhaps some lessons and a week of Reed Boot Camp.  But is that adequate, compared to this kind of craziness?  I’ve always thought that since I work largely from home and have a flexible schedule, I was a more present parent than one who works long hours away from home, but I do feel like I’ll be an absent mom this week. 

I don’t know how to do it better.


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