In last week’s post, I talked about the challenges of being both a mama and a musician. This past weekend, I was hired to play a wedding in beautiful Bellingham, Washington. My son Benny and I flew to Seattle and rented a car. We stayed with an old friend who also agreed to be the babysitter while I fulfilled my duties at the wedding. Without my friend, it would’ve been impossible to do the gig. Her contribution to the day was incredibly generous and made it possible for me to focus on playing.
It was a big time commitment, but I always feel incredibly honored to be a part of people’s big days. These are the things we remember. That being said, I sure was glad to get home to my own bed after only two days instead of 40.
While I was there, I touched base with Amanda West and Evie Landin, both musical mamas in different segments of their motherhood journey.
Evie, mother to a 12-year-old boy as well as an accomplished banjo and guitar player, had this to say:
The freelance lifestyle seems well-suited to the additional multi-tasking of having a child on the road with you. Always considering timing, travel, food, naps! My son is now 12 but has been traveling with us since he was born (13 flights in his first year, starting at four weeks!).
It takes a village, and fortunately in the folk music world, most people operate with the village in mind. As long as you’re not overprotective about who has your kid, I find that the flexibility and range of experiences my son has had with so many people has helped form him into a very flexible and social person.
Of course it all depends on the temperament of the child and the ability of parents to focus on the show when the show is happening. I seem to be able to segment those parts of my brain, and am very clear to give my child what he needs, and also make sure I get what I need – focus, sleep, etc. – when I need it.
I believe quite strongly that a happy child is in part dependent on happy parents, and that giving up your dreams does no good for anyone.
Now, there’s realism in my dreams, and the conspiracy of great bandmates, extended family, and extended musical community. There’s always someone to hold a baby. It gets harder as the walking/roaming sets in, and even harder as the whining and complaining comes along. But I always make sure there’s time and treats and experiences for him along the way. I’ve broken from my desire to never go to Disneyland, for example, which turned out to be much more nostalgia-based and fun than I thought!
I often book tours around areas where we have family, and with cousins all over the country, we end up seeing family more than anyone else, so I have no problem leaning on them for childcare. We come to them!
Amanda West, who is based in Santa Cruz and has a three-year-old, says that touring with a nanny makes life much easier, as long as you have a written agreement with the nanny.
The everyday reality of touring, particularly as a parent, is not very glamorous, and is rather grueling. You never get a moment’s rest. I was “mom” for 22.5 hours a day and “touring musician” for one and a half hours, with no transition time in between.
Being a touring musician is a lot more than just being on the stage, and when all those other parts are abandoned, it can be challenging, to say the least.
I agree, I have had a few friends willing to come on tour and hold my babies for little to no pay, and without them, it would have been very hard. Amanda also says this:
Coming home felt really good, and Pete and I both feel like our direction has been clarified. My music career has been very focused on performing for a lot of years. And now I really feel like my attention is turning toward the studio. There is so much studio magic that I’m feeling and enjoying right now, and with the world of the internet, there are so many ways to reach people, and to reach people at home – and of course that’s where all the parents are.