Day 308: Guiltless Motherhood. Is It Possible?

Oh, I'm supposed to be in the basement practicing parts to play tonight at my friend Chris' CD release at the Rosebud Cafe in Boston. But instead, I'm sitting here thinking about my kid, who's upstairs sleeping after a not-so-pretty night. Someone was tossing their cookies in the Toddler Bed Wonder Whirl ride, and it wasn't anyone taller than 48 inches. And I'm the carnie who gets to wash the blankets.

What I'm thinking about while she sleeps is yesterday. I spent the afternoon with Denya the Fabulous and Sasha the Organic Farmer's Wife. (Ooh, I hear a joke: Two musicians and an organic farmer walk into a bar...) Anyway, we were sitting in the living room sipping tea before the fire (yes, the fire) while MiniMe conducted an animated conversation with her dolls in the next room.

The subject of my blog came up. Denya, one of my most supportive readers and dearest friends, said, "Poor little MiniMe never gets written about." She didn't mean anything by it. She was just saying.

Imagine. All this talk about music, and no talk about the kid? A mother who has other stuff going on besides play dates and playgrounds? Is it possible? Yes, folks it is, but boy do we worry our pretty little heads about it. It seems to be so rare that many of us present-day mothers of wee ones don't realize that before this generation, it used to be that way. People used to go out. Do things. Play tennis together. Visit friends. Have cocktail parties. Or so I'm told.

Last summer, I had a sherpa, a five-session liaison with executive coach Susan Braverman, as a gift from my sister. Most of our meetings were on the phone, but for our last meeting, I got to meet her in person, in her ├╝ber-cool vintage 1960s Brady Bunch-avec-Buddha house in Bethesda. I remember saying to her that it felt a little funny that I was thinking so much about music and not bringing any motherhood issues to the table.

She stopped for a moment, looked at me, then surprised me. "But you don't HAVE any motherhood issues. Congratulations! If you ask me, too many mothers these days are so focused on perfect parenting that they're not trusting their own judgment. The current way of parenting puts way too much emphasis on the kids, and on theories and ideas, but not on instinct. We already know what to do."

Instinct. What does that mean? It means love. L. O. V. E. It means forgiveness when milk is spilled, compassion when tantrums rage, sensitivity to the priorities of three-year-old, whimsy when shaking your shamrocks to Elmo is most fun thing to do... and worst of all: taking risks. We won't always know what's right, so we'll take a guess, or we'll simply react. Things may go horribly wrong. But... so? Sometimes we don't do everything right. We learn from it, try harder next time. Then, we forgive ourselves and move on. And that's it. Don't you think?

Denya said something like that, too. When she had first arrived, I was sitting next to MiniMe on the couch. Annie was watching PBSKids and I was grading papers on my laptop. I made some sort of apology to Denya for not being 100% attentive to my child and worse (GASP!) letting her watch TV. Denya looked at me, aghast. "But you're HOME. You're here next to her. And you HAVE to work. This is a wonderful option. You're both together. And then I see that she comes to gigs with you, you're engaging with her while you work, and you're both very happy. Too much guilt!"

Too much guilt, man. Let's stop worrying about parenting perfectly and throw away the parenting books and just start having more fun together. Crazy idea?

At the risk of sounding hard: I've thought about it. This blog IS about musicianship and motherhood, but it ISN'T about MiniMe. And it doesn't have to be, because everything else is. Just ask her.


FuntabulousMami said…
So true, its so easy to feel guilt when it comes to something as important to us as being a good mother, just a mention of it gets the wheels spinning. I know that some may not understand this, but I think its important to not lose your self when you become a parent. I think that we must work on us as well, and do things that make us happy too. I strongly believe we must keep rest of our lives intact and incorporate our children into them, not put the burden of our hopes, dreams and aspirations on their little shoulderst. I think its healthy to let them see us as whole people, see us doing what makes us happy, so they can aspire to that same happiness. I think that it makes us better parents too.

I also have to work and whenever I can I do it while they are in the room, yes the TV is on, or the radio, and at times they don't have my full attention. But I think they will grow up to be independent well rounded women, that understand that we must work to get what we want. My mother had me at 20 so I was there with her always, she would breast feed me in the back of the classroom, work at the university daycare to keep an eye on me, and once she graduated I would attend the school where she worked, and since she had school loans she worked in the evenings as a receptionist I would play under her desk. I loved those days, but my favorite memories were her jam sessions, where I was the only child and always felt like an adult. You are a wonderful Mom and it takes 2 minutes of meeting that bright, sweet girl to see it.

Sorry I talk too much!