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.