I'm starting to go a little stir-crazy. If I had a nickel every time someone asked me what I'm doing with "all that free time" now that Anya is in public school, I'd be, well, not rich, but I'd be making more money than I am now, which is pretty much zilch.
I'd really been hoping to pick up more freelance work, now that I have more availability during the day. Alas, the semester has gotten off to a slow start, to put it kindly. From what I understand, it's a problem of supply and demand; suddenly there are more pianists in town looking to earn their living doing what I do, so now there isn't enough work to go around, whereas usually it's the other way around. Of course, well-qualified musicians have every right to take the gigs that come their way, but from my standpoint it's terrible timing. Just when I have the time to work more, there isn't enough work, plus I still have kids' schedules to work around (it's not like them being in school means I don't have any parental responsibility anymore, something that non-parents don't always understand).
I have one gig next week (it's going to be great, actually, another performance with my friend Dr. Julia), and maybe one more low-key recital in December, and that's it. I honestly don't know what to do.
The first couple weeks of school, when I was suddenly awash with kid-free time, were great. The house was clean, I made meal plans, I practiced my little bit of recital music, I puttered around with some sewing. But the euphoria didn't last long. Now, given too many hours and too few responsibilities to fill them up, I feel anxious, mildly depressed, and, frankly, useless. This is unsustainable for me. For me, being a mom/housewife has had its ups and downs, but it has also worked okay up to this point.
Now it is not okay. Now I am thinking about turning 35 at the end of the year,. Now I am staring into my future, and if it keeps going on this track, I don't like what I see. I need to challenge myself, I need to feel like I'm worth something, I need to feel like I'm capable of financial independence, and right now none of those things are happening. It's not that parenting and planning meals and volunteering in the classroom isn't challenging - heavens no! - but that stuff alone just isn't doing it for me right now. The way I see it, my options are:
1.) Give it a year, try to find more gigs, hope this all eventually works out. This is what I am good at, after all. Drawbacks: freelance work is already unreliable; the slow start now does not bode well for the future.
2.) Throw myself into volunteering at the school. Teachers welcome the help, and it's good to see how the kids' classes operate. Drawbacks: I don't want to become one of those moms who all the kids think works at the school because I'm there so much. Also, it's exhausting. And it's working for free, which I should limit.
3.) Start over. Seriously, throw out the music career, which got derailed anyway once I had kids. Go back to school and study statistics or animal behavior or social work or something. Drawbacks: Because all I ever studied or worked in was music, it would truly be starting over. I'd be starting menopause by the time I get done.
I went to school, I followed my passion, I got really good at the things I like best...and now I'm starting to regret it. I feel like I should have known better. I should have kept my options open. I didn't plan on having kids when I did, but I know I can't blame my perpetual career crisis on them forever. Right now, I just don't know what to do.
Chou Wen-chung at 90
19 hours ago