Yesterday afternoon I had a visit from a friend. I don't get to see her very often, but she's one of those people with whom you can just pick up right where you left off. We met back in 2004 when our grad union was organizing a strike, and we've been good friends ever since. She's the only person I've kept in regular contact with since grad school, and she's one of the few people who didn't assume I dropped off the face of the earth after I had kids. She did a lot of babysitting for me at crucial moments, like when I was pregnant with Anya and desperately practicing the music for my dissertation project (I did a recording with a paper to accompany it.)

Anyway, we talked about everything, just like we always do: politics, potty training (or lack thereof), education, the politics of education, what's wrong with Republicans, gardening, food, travel, and what we're doing with our lives. She's applied for a job in Madison, and I (rather selfishly) hope she gets it so we can see her more often. I told her about my tentative plans to study accounting next year or sometime soon. She gave me a funny look and asked me "Is that really what you want, Susan?" I stammered a reply about how hard it is to make a career out of music, and how much harder it is when you've been out of the loop for a few years (to take care of young children, for example), and how it's nearly impossible in a deep recession. Accounting is practical, after all, and it would be the first occupation I've had that doesn't' require complete personal and emotional commitment. (I'm a musician and a mother; no wonder I'm so drained all the time!) I don't think I was very convincing, though, because when it comes down to the raw truth, playing chamber music is what I love the most, and I am not sure whether I'll be fulfilled keeping it as just a hobby. A doctorate is an awful lot of work to go to for a hobby.

I'm still torn between doing what I really want to do, and doing what's practical. If I were on my own, I would take the risk and go with the former. But I have a family to take care of, and frankly, family is trump. They need me now. (And by that, I mean right now. Anya's diaper is all poopy and Daniel is bugging me to read to him. Arg. They'll just have to wait a few minutes.) If I give up music entirely, I'll eventually resent them for it, and of course no one wants that.

I'm not looking for answers here. You guys can give me all the advice you want, and right now I welcome your honest opinion. But I also know that only I can decide what's right for me. I just don't know how or when I'll make up my mind.


Animal said…
Miss Tessmacher will be 33 this year, with a DMA in flute performance and a hefty list of achievements in the music field, both regular and freelance.

And she STILL doesn't know what she wants to do when she grows up, some days!

As she contemplates getting a psychology degree, I can only offer you this: I think your priorities are spot-on, and when the right thing hits at the right time, you'll know.
Pam said…
It just randomly occurred to me that maybe you are like me... I say that meaning that maybe you are happiest when you are learning something new. You have several degrees, so my guess is that you love being in school. Maybe the prospect of learning something totally new (accounting) is more exciting to you than the drudgery of what it would take to make a living as a musician, which isn't more learning, but other stuff, like advertising and promoting yourself and hob-nobbing. I realize I'm totally speculating, but if my guess is near truth, I don't see that there's anything wrong with that. Your brain wants to be stimulated. You don't want to settle for doing something that isn't totally thrilling (like teaching piano lessons to amateurs...). Just a thought.
Pam said…
Usually when I leave comments I feel like about half of what I meant didn't make it onto the page.
eusebius said…
It gets easier. After my daughter turned 3, I found I could let her go to daycare for a while and start building up my career again. Now she's nearly 6 and I'm playing a solo recital next week. Hang in there ... you will get there too.

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