Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Parenthood, Identity Crisis, and Guilt. So much guilt.

It's not a secret nor a surprise that I've had something of an identiy crisis since The Wee Boy was born. Every parent suffers from something similar. I definitely thought I would be better at adapting to it, however, as I've always been good at handling new situations. I mean, I've been a self-employed artist for 12 years. Artists are pretty good at handling chaos (and believe me, I've dealt with chaos ... I spent a summer touring with Days of the New, after all).

To be honest, though, I think that's part of the problem -- the art. Every parent has trouble balancing a career, I know, but the what I find challenging is making time to do the art

(I also teach music lessons. This part of my job has not been a challenge, other than when my babysitters are out of town, and I have to scramble for childcare or cancel lessons and lose income. To be honest, it's pretty easy to disappear several hours a day and go to that job: a job that begins and ends at a certain time.)

I actually discussed this with a musical hero of mine recently, how I feel terribly guilty hiring a babysitter so I can, um, play the piano. It feels self-indulgent and self-righteous. It's one thing to hire a babysitter to go get a massage (which you should totally do, and you should not feel guilty about it, even though I know you probably will because everything in parenthood is about guilt). It's another thing to hire a babysitter to write music.

You see, things have changed since I released my last record, um, six years ago. People don't buy stuff anymore. Six years ago, I could write a song, record it, and know that I'd at least break even on my cost and time input. (Is that a business term? I used to know my business terms. David? Another MBA? Someone tell me what word that should be, and I'll edit this and credit you.) Nowadays, I know I'll sell some CDs, but I have no idea how many. Six years ago, I printed two thousand copies of West 28th Street without thinking twice about it. The song I recorded last night? You'll hear it on Spotify or Pandora rather than your CD player (do you even have a CD player anymore?). If I'm lucky and I make the ASCAP survey sample, then I might make a few hundred bucks. 

Babysitters make more than that.

But the identity crisis, people. 

I wish that I didn't have this other thing I need to do, this art thing. I really, truly wish that the only thing I had any desire for deep in my soul, was to be a parent. Or to go to a job that begins and ends and doesn't bother me at 3am with an idea that I should write down, but that I'm just too exhausted to put pen to paper because I haven't slept more than 3 hours in a row in I-can't-remember-when (until last night, when I put earplugs in and went to another room because my husband is a saint).

I know, I know. This is more journal material than blog.

Yesterday I went to Peter's house, recorded a song, and then managed to get a drummer to come over and throw a drum track on there. This is a HUGE start, people. It makes me feel a little more human, but not any less guilty.

Oh, parenthood, the pinnacle of guilt!

Remember this? It was, like, almost two weeks ago. Who IS that woman up there? 

1 comment:

  1. I am not a parent and I find it sooooo hard to set aside the time to write and create! I think there are several reasons:
    1. I will not get paid at the end of the time I spend on it. Even if I may eventually get paid something in the future, it sort of doesn't count now. This is not to say I really care about being paid more than anything else, just that I haven't sorted out my income streams enough not to think carefully about time I'm paid for (or time I'm spending that I will likely be paid for soon, such as marketing music lessons) versus time I may get paid for at some point. 2. I WANT to do it, and therefore I don't prioritise it (weird, I know) and I mentally leave it until after I've done that other non-fun stuff. And then the day's gone. 3. It doesn't seem urgent. I could do it anytime. After all, it's not going have an immediate impact on my life, right, unlike renewing the car parking permit, which will have a negative impact if I don't do it. 3. This is the biggie and I think can only intensify with parenthood: if you aren't sure exactly what the result is going to be, how is it justified as a use of time over something that pays you now? Of course, there are many very valid answers to this - even if there was no chance of you ever making any money out of it ever, it's important to shine your light and do your thing and sing the song only you are going to sing. CDs don't sell in the way they used to but that doesn't mean no-one buys stuff ever-but they can't buy something that doesn't exist. Wow, even thinking those thoughts before dinner basically made me run out of steam before I really finished-but suffice to say, you take that time! You want the wee boy to grow up feeling like he has permission to follow his compass...
    And I look forward to hearing the song. And I also think a non-parent probs can't really imagine the pressure-so well done for getting one down!

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