I spent the first 39 years and 364 days of my life absolutely certain I would never have a child. I liked kids, but more as a peer than as a prospective parent. I was not only sure I would be a terrible mom - at once overprotective and neglectful- but I also could not imagine how I could manage my schedule as a composer, pianist and teacher with caring for a tiny little human being. The decision to not have children felt completely comfortable and right.
Then, on my 40th birthday, I witnessed some adorably precocious behavior from a cousin's 2 year old daughter, and my mind changed with the immediacy of the flick of a light switch. I could not believe I had decided not to have a child- and having just turned 40, I was sure it was too late. My boyfriend and I decided that we should get married and try- and I felt a great sense of both relief and urgency. Sometimes I think that urgency was because my son needed to be born, and we were the ones responsible for making that happen.
I have been a mom now for almost 13 years, and I think a lot about how being a mom influences my music, and how being a composer affects my being a mom. There are logistic, time-management issues. Sometimes one must sacrifice a musical obligation for a parental one and vice versa. There are issues of identity. Sometimes I hear that being a mom must enrich my music because it makes me who I am. I don't accept that- I believe that an artist's work transcends who they are as people; I MUST believe that in order to keep some of my compositional heroes, some of whom were heinous people in their personal lives (but that's another blog post!).
The various hats I wear- mom, composer, pianist, teacher, too-frequent-Facebook-poster- all exist in tandem with each other. I believe that they co-exist inside me, together make up who I am as a person. But I am just not sure how much they influence each other.
But, here's what I do know. Last night I had dinner with 8 other mom's of kids from my son's hockey team. We defy the stereotype of a Sarah Palin-esque hockey mom. We are lawyers, brilliant business people, assistants to college presidents, law librarians, jewelry makers, doctors, and musicians. And we are loving, caring, compassionate, devoted moms. We are teaching our children that it is possible to be a mom in tandem with many other things. We are showing our children by example that women can have rich and complex lives, that women can be anything they want- in addition to being moms- without negative impact on their motherhood. And maybe this concept will expand and become more and more normal for each subsequent generation so that one day there will be no gender stereotypes with regards to who and what one decides to be.
To my son, it is completely normal to have a mom who's a composer. Normal is good.