This afternoon I had a nice visit with someone I hadn't seen in a while, someone who knows me very, very well both personally and as a musician. She is a professional musician herself and has grown children of her own so she can relate very well to my present state. She asked me how I was doing, if I enjoy doing what I'm doing, and I answered, as I always do, "Yes, mostly. It's a good thing I have hobbies." And it's true. I really do like that I can be with Daniel and Anya most of the time. That they are both not yet old enough for school means that I couldn't afford a full-time job right now even if I wanted one, but I'm okay with that. I don't resent them for that.

It has, however, been two years since Anya was born, and coincidentally, two years since I finished my doctorate, and I'm ready to be back on the scene, if only a very little bit. So I played a bunch of auditions last weekend, and I've also agreed to work on a dissertation recording project with someone at the school of music. I know the latter will be a rewarding experience; I'm looking forward to working with her and working with her teacher, and my former teacher has agreed to give us some coachings as well.

But there are several aspects of getting back in the saddle - however cautiously - that I don't like, frankly. There's the stress of learning music with very little practice time; I practice after breakfast before Stuart leaves for work, after dinner before the kids go to bed, and occasionally in the afternoons while they spend time with a paid sitter. There's the stress of trying to coordinate my sitters' schedules with those of busy musicians at the University (practically impossible). There's the fact that all the extra stress and playing doesn't actually translate into making any money because I have to pay sitters for so many hours a week to cover the rehearsals and practice time anyway. There are all those old feelings of inadequacy nibbling at my confidence every time I step foot in the music building or run into professors I had in class, or whose studios I played in. I was a student for so long that every time I am on campus I feel like a student again, being judged, being evaluated, never being good enough.

Either way there will be sacrifices made. If I devoted myself to parenting at the exclusion of all else, I would certainly regret it. If I were determined to be working full-time either as a freelance accompanist/coach or with an academic institution somewhere, my family would never ever see me, and we would all regret it. So I'm trying to fall somewhere in the middle, and still, it's so hard to keep up.

ETA: I know I'm not alone in this. I think every primary caretaker (mostly mothers, but there are stay-at-home dads out there, too) experiences these frustrations. Still sucks, though.


Jessi said…
I can only offer commiseration. I hope it gets better. I keep telling myself that they'll only be this little for so long and I should enjoy it even if I'm not enjoying my career. It's a hard pill to swallow, though.
Animal said…
"…all those old feelings of inadequacy nibbling at my confidence every time I step foot in the music building or run into professors I had in class…"

I hears ya. While I don't have the stay-at-home parent issues, I *do* work at my undergrad alma mater, which was very difficult in the early years as there were some faculty who just couldn't see me as anything other than a party-hearty student. Patience and, mostly, time will erase this.
Pam said…
This is interesting to me because although I am not a parent, I feel like I have had to let my music take a backseat for other reasons, mostly because I work a full-time office job that takes up a lot of my time and energy. I am involved in musical projects, but I do not find myself with the time or energy to prepare for them. What struck me about your post was the thought that when we go to music school for performance, we learn how to go full tilt, to perform at the highest level we can, performing the greatest music there is. The reality is that most of us (?) probably end up (post school) performing at a lower level than we are capable of because we don't have the time to prepare that we did when we were full-time students, and/or performing repertoire that is not nearly as stimulating as that which we worked on as students. In all honesty, it's been and continues to be a rough adjustment. But still, I feel I should be glad that I'm able to have any music in my life, since when I'm doing it, it transports me to another level than that which I find myself in most of the rest of the time. The other day I was in the car on the way home from Trader Joe's when Chanticleer came on the radio (they were performing on Prairie Home Companion) and the singing was just so beautiful. I had to stop everything and listen and revel in it for 2 minutes. Just 2 minutes was so healing.

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