Friday, April 13, 2018

Live-in childcare magic & practicing my business.

Wee Graham proud of the apple tart he &
our amazing au pair made last week.
A few weeks ago at the school fundraiser, I was talking to a parent who was struggling with childcare, and I said, "What you need to get is a Brazilian!" Then she looked at me in horror, and I realized that I was inadvertently sexually harassing her when really I just meant that we have a Brazilian au pair whom we absolutely adore.

Lots of you have been asking me "how the au pair thing is going," and I'm here to say that it's going really, really well! I am slowly, but steadily, coming up for air. The first day she was on duty, I sorted a ton of gigs and contracts, and now I'm actually making time for something I haven't had *any* time for in the past five years: practice. Playing notes has never been a problem for me, but I've noticed a slip in my soloing capabilities lately -- entirely because the only time I ever actually get to play music is when I'm gigging. It's frustrating when your head has the solo idea, but your fingers won't cooperate because arthritis, tendonitis, non-practicitis.  

This week, I practiced scales and Hanon virtuosos piano exercises at least 30 minutes a day, which is not a huge number (I think it's a bare minimum for maintenance to be honest), but it's more than I've had in ages. 

So, yes, "the au pair thing," is going well. I love being able to take a phone call or have a rehearsal or do my bookkeeping at normal business hours rather than relying completely when the kids are not chewing on my feet. I love being able to play a gig on a Wednesday night and not scramble to find childcare. I love that the kids have another constant adult in their lives who is capable of doing bedtime when that is notoriously challenging for my children. She's the kindest person I've ever met, and she loves to cook and bake with the kids, and she even makes me coffee when she's the first one downstairs in the morning. It's like having an amazing and thoughtful roommate.

My biggest challenge has been trying to ignore the haters -- and there have been a surprising number of them. Maybe you, my reader, are one of the haters too, rolling your eyes and thinking how bourgeois it is to have an au pair. If that is you, then I ask you if you also roll your eyes at yourself when you take your child to daycare so you can work? Or at your friends who work 9-5 jobs but have childcare? Because this "au pair thing" is so that I can work, not because I'm bored and wealthy (but even if that were the case, then MOVE ON, FOLKS!).

Anyway, see? That's my challenge -- not justifying our childcare choices to people I meet, or trying to convince my "friends" that I do, in fact, work for a living. I'm lucky to have been able to make a living with music full-time for the past 17 years, but it's luck boosted by insanely hard work. (What do you think this blog is about? Pure laziness? Guess what: it's maintaining my brand, my name, and reminding you that I have new music out, please spread the word! Or that I am available to pick bluegrass tunes at your Sunday brunch! Or play your music festival in Denmark! Or play the musical saw at your wedding!)

Ok, enough justifying. And enough blogging. Back to songwriting. And tour booking. But not back to sorting childcare because, guess what? I got a Brazilian! 

I've been digging through a notebook of half-written songs and thinking it's time to record them and move on. Steve Cooley, can we get started on that next record already???

Interested in hiring an au pair? Here's a referral link to the agency we used.

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