I’m Not late, I’m on Baby Standard Time

If you’re putting a concert together fast, the thing you really focus on is the transitions. In limited rehearsal time, you can trust the musicians to play the big juicy melodies, but getting from one section to the next or in and out of tempos is always a challenge, so that’s what you work on.

I like being a mother. I LOVE spending time with Zoe, and playing with her, and watching her learn to stand and lately to stand unaided and to eat by herself and to take her first few steps along the furniture. There’s a gentle structure to her days – wake up, snuggle, eat, play, nap, etc – which varies in details but not really in substance.

I also have found that I can still be a good professional musician. I can report on time, and pay attention to what I am doing, and give a good performance, and get the job done. I can be a great teacher. I can keep my reed business going and get all of my shipments out on time, every month. I can keep myself and my students in reeds. In short, I can do what I have always done without compromising a lot, and I am impressed with myself.

BUT what is hard is the transitions. Actually getting up and stepping away from the baby to work upstairs in my studio is rough. The compromise in which she plays in my room while I scrape reeds or practice inevitably winds up with me accomplishing half or less of what I had planned. Half. Never more.

Leaving the house is even worse. I know that she is well cared for when I’m gone. There is no question in my mind that Steve is a great dad, or that our babysitters are capable, qualified, and caring. And anyway, I’m not a worrier. Once I’m gone I know she is fine, and I’m fine, too, once I get out. But when I stand up to go she looks so betrayed, and she cries, and it’s for me. And her eyes are so desolate when I am leaving. And I turn back and we nurse just a little more, and I talk to her and remind her that I love her so much, and that I am coming back in just a few hours, and that she’ll have so much fun at home – but still she is sad and I am sad.

It’s actually easier when I have a gig out of town – the time I spend in the car is the transition time I need to put my oboist face on and be ready to be that other person; the grown-up among grown-ups. When my work is conveniently right down the street I have developed a habit of dashing in at the last second, still eating dinner out of my hand and with Cheerios in my hair. (Usually metaphorical Cheerios, but still). I feel frenzied and stressed. I am still a little bit in baby mode, and it takes a few minutes to recover. It’s jarring to travel between my two worlds, and somehow that’s what I need to work on.

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