Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How far the umbilical cord stretches: a discussion on playing out while parenting.

This week's entry considers the life choices we make and how it intertwines with being a musician. I ask: can you perform out of town as a parent?

Remember that for the serious performing musician, being on the road is an obligation. Out of town shows are a necessity if your band has intentions to grow. While being an active musician may be your life, above all you must remember all of those who are along for the ride. I'm speaking about your child/children and life partner/spouse.

I swear: every rock biography movie I've ever watched on cable about famous musicians has predictable patterns. You know what I'm talking about. There's the hospital scene letting the audience know that the musician had children or something, and then a later scene with the children running in the front yard with Daddy. Most rock or music movies are centered around male musicians galavanting around as their ladies wait calmly at home, going through the daily routine with the children. Rarely has a director considered the female musician or how friggen hard it is to be female on the road with babies at home. Well, I'm here to give a female perspective.

On our last out of town show (last weekend), I had the pleasure of chatting with Clark from the New York Disco Villans. He sensed my new parent anxiety of being hundreds of miles from baby. He was quick to console me and my preoccupations with an anedote of being the only parent home when the flu hits town. If you are lucky enough, like Clark, to have a 2 parent household or outside help, it makes touring much easier. If, however, you are both touring (as is our case), every decision you make for childcare is crucial. I'm here to offer some suggestions and thoughts about your future touring goals, out of town shows and how family factors into it all.

First and foremost: DO NOT MAKE ANY HASTY DECISIONS WITH CHILDCARE, NO MATTER HOW DESPERATE YOU ARE. Choose your caretakers very, very VERY carefully.

Even if it is a big show and you do not want to cancel your appearance. I tell you wholeheartedly to cancel your show before ever leaving your child in any uncomfortable circumstance. If you are not 100% certain in your caregiver choice, do not move forward with them.

If you witness any sign of inappropriate or irresponsible behavior in your prospective caregiver, heed it very cautiously. Watch for your prospective caregiver's attitude about sex. Ask yourself: have they ever talked about a sexual topic in front of you, perhaps out of place, in a conversation? If you feel - in any way - that this person could have it somewhere in them to act inappropriately in front of a child, then do not doubt your instincts, even if you perceive this person to be nice. DO NOT SECOND GUESS YOURSELF AND ALWAYS TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS! This person will be changing diapers or bathroom accidents. You cannot have any reservations about the person you entrust to watch your child.

If the person you are considering to watch your child has any form of temper or short fuse, I say: ABSOLUTELY NOT. No questions asked.

Even if you perceive this person to be "nice" always trust your inner voice. I mentioned this a few sentences ago, but I believe in it so strongly that I'm willing to risk being redundant.

Remember that, as a parent, it is your goal to create a responsible adult with as little baggage as possible. You can do your best by considering every step of the way, the security of your child. These are the sacrifices others spoke about as you were waiting for that baby to be born.

Who's watching the children will be a decision that you make again and again and again. If you wish to follow your goals and dreams as a musician, you will continuously run into this choice, whether local or out of town shows.

Kristen Strezo