In a year’s time, I have gone from living in a tiny home to being one.
Let me explain.
Last May, I left a solo troubadour lifestyle, living in a 1964 Avion camper to join a family and became step-mama to some of the most incredible young people I’ve ever known. I married my amazing partner, Ryan, and we are now expecting a baby boy, Charlie any day now.
This said, I’ve got a few more feelings than usual this week leading up to Mother’s Day. On top of a newfound gratitude for my own mother, grandmothers and aunts, I am overwhelmed by a deeper connection to humanity- especially women who have lost children, those who deeply yearn to be mamas and the mamas who hustle day in and out to parent and stay on career paths despite all the odds, staying in the game, day after day. . . juggling it all and somehow making it work another day.
Since my career path has been music, I’m sitting here wondering how in the world all these amazing mamas in the music biz keep the tunes and their families alive. Prior to this past year, for almost 20 years I nurtured a career that required mostly 12-16 hour days, 7 days a week for months on end. Financially, it required sacrificing stability, predictability, re-investing sometimes 80% of my income back in a risky investment (makin’ records) and being able to hang on while riding the rollercoaster of this volatile biz deep into the valleys and up to the peaks without letting my ego get attached to the ‘wins’ and ‘losses.’
But that journey impacted just one person. Now there’s whole lot more on the line.
This last year has been humbling. I am ridiculously in love with my career, my husband and these kids. They all bring me so much deep and lasting joy and laughter every single day. There have been challenges with all the parts, but somehow, I’ve managed to complete this beautiful new album, manage an awesome team, tour, make dozens of family dinners and for the last eight months grow a busy little new person in my body.
But the journey has only just begun. This new baby will challenge my career in ways I can’t predict. While I’m thrilled about Charlie’s arrival, I have also had to ask myself the harder questions about what’s important and which parts of my life as I know it I will put to rest. There’s a lot of gratitude in the back-and-forth and there’s also grief. It’s a delicate inner dance and I’m not alone in it, though it feels that way at times.
I only have to open my text messages or Facebook or email to be reminded of all the amazing women who are on similar roads. I see all the mothers I know negotiating daily between the needs of their kids, jobs and dreams. One of my single mom friends told me recently, “I have learned that being a good mom is based on one word and its not ‘LOVE,’ it’s ‘TRY’.” The minute you stop trying, is the moment everything changes.”
In modern times in the US, moms are met with the expectation to be amazing nurturers, giving completely of their body, soul and time to nourish their babies, while also somehow not skipping a beat with their careers. Hell, even Adele wept a bit at the challenges of balancing motherhood and a music career after receiving multiple GRAMMYs earlier this year. And If there’s any artist in music who knows mainstream “success” it’s Adele.
Truth is that the road is a monster for everyone and running a business in a failing music economy is a hustle, even for the top artists out there, male or female. And while music continues to be the salve for the soul for which our world hungers, the monetary value of music is impossible to pin. “Success” for artists can no longer be measured by record or ticket sales. It’s measured mostly by the ability to stay in the game and come out with great new music despite the odds.
Personally, I’ve got 20 years into this career. Sorta crazy to think, but that’s the math! I’ve managed to put out 8 albums, successful advertising compositions, play for thousands of fans across the world and be a soundtrack for many folks’ lives. From couples falling in love to mothers carrying miracle babies, to graduations, marriages and memorial services, I’ve seen the power of music firsthand. The way music touches us regardless of our race, age, creed or politics is something powerful to witness and oftentimes this is what renews my faith in humanity when nothing else can. It’s been an amazing journey.
But I’m not sure what awaits on the other side of Charlie’s birth in terms of my career and I’m not too cocky to believe I can be everything to everyone all the time. Some parts will have to give and others will blossom . . . Just not sure which yet.
So, in honor of mother’s day and this great unfolding mystery, I want to give a deep and gracious nod to all the mamas out there who are sluggin’ away at life, careers and still managing to snuggle for hours with their littles. I’ve been blessed to witness many firsthand in my world and I have a renewed appreciation for what they do.
I made a little Mamas who rock playlist on Spotify if you wanna enjoy some of the music mamas I admire the most! It kicks off with a brand new tune from one of my best music mama friends, Suzanna Choffel, who’s new album “Hello Goodbye” Comes out today.