Sunday, November 25, 2012

Spring and the Supermom

I grew up in an area where there is no Spring.  This seemed like nothing to me growing up--"Spring" was what we called this period between maybe late February and mid April when it rained more and the weather was lovely, but it wasn't Spring.  The whole world didn't change, like it has everywhere else I've lived.  In Phoenix, we all grew up discussing whether we would move somewhere "with seasons," not that we all wanted to.  Some of us dreaded the idea of snow and coats, and ice and all that stuff, and others had their hearts won over by the idea of changing leaves.

I have always had a connection with Spring.  In NYC, Spring lasts for about 4 minutes.  It is the day you walk outside when it seems that winter is gone.  And then before you notice, you're pretty warm.  Too warm.  And it's summer. 

I complain about Iowa a lot.  Sometimes I feel like a stranger in a strange land.  Right now, studying Abraham and how God called him to a place he wouldn't belong, where he would die before he ever could feel a connection to that place--that must've been so insanely hard.  I search for connection to places, and complain when I can't find it.  So I must add that I LOOOOVE spring in Iowa.  My husband and I revel in Spring.  We love that season, we love greenhouses, and little chutes of green coming up from the dirt.  We love the smell of dirt.  I love the switch to little jackets from big ones.  I love turning off the furnace for the first time.  Watching white snow recede off of the ground, revealing Jade Green grass.  Ahhhh, I love all of that.  I could go on.  Some trees here turn purple!  And it lasts here.  Months of Spring.  I never knew what I was missing, and I love it.

Recently I sat on the cold ground, 12 weeks pregnant, sick with whooping cough, and planted tulip bulbs for two hours.  THe anticipation of seeing those brilliant colors makes me smile.  Even when my hands are cold as hell.

So why write about Spring in late November?  Because I am having a baby in the Spring!  And I can't wait to experience new life in the time of new life.  Hmmmm....being depressed lately it is my favorite thought.  My green baby.

I just want to address something that annoys me in this glorious little blogette about my favorite season.  I don't understand why being a mother makes everyone assume this kind of "holiness" about themselves.  It drives me INSANE.  Hmmm...so what do I mean?  If you've ever been in church on a mother's day, they tend to hand out flowers--or say nice things about you, or give you something at the door.  They "honor" you.  But it feels like we're all still children idealizing motherhood.  I would so much rather the world saw it as an important and difficult job.  I went to a church years ago that had a mother preach the sermon every mother's day.  Ahhh, I loved that.  I got to hear all sorts of different perspectives, and through this woman speaking, I got to see a mother as a human.  Not a superhero, not a saint, and not a failure either.  A person to be respected, who could do other great things and not be completely defined by being a mother.

Before I had a child, I had a wonderful conversation with a friend who was not a mother.  She said, and I agreed, that nothing would ever redefine you like parenthood.  No one ever "leaves out" the part that they have children.  We are people and then parents first.  And sure, mothers.  Sometimes when Baby S says my name it melts my heart, and sometimes when she calls "mom" I want to run the other direction.  Maybe if we could just strip this "holy mom" or "superhero" thing out of it, we could be free to forgive ourselves for the things we do wrong....for allowing our 3 year old to eat a fiber one bar for diner.....or realizing she's been watching the Backyardigans for 2 hours straight.  Maybe if we stripped that we could just feel happy about the good things that they are and do, and not feel like those things have to reference our self-worth.  Maybe. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It Only Goes So Long

I want to sing.  In the last few days, I have finally been able to "phonate" sounds, to do a small demonstration (with no real tone) for students....to sing through a hymn in church, though not enough you'd hear me if you stood in front of me.  I suppose it would be like a runner breaking their foot?  I can hardly remember the joy of singing, loudly, with an orchestra, with a thousand people, with a character running through my blood.

It is hard to string together a lot of days without missing that feeling.  I guess the biggest change in me is that it's not a pressing need.  It doesn't define me as much as it once did.  I don't pull my husband aside and cry over why I didn't get the opportunity to ever do what I truly dreamed of--maintaining a life as a singer.  But the phantom remains, the longing remains.  Here, not being able to sing for weeks, makes me feel like I never could.  It's strange and a bit awful.

Motherhood has been rough lately.  I want to puke a lot, and my 3 year old seems to act as if I am a weakened gazelle, pulled from the pack, fresh for the killing. She takes advantage of the weakness, tries to get closer to what she really wants.  She is a wonderful child, except that children are not really born with an awareness that they themselves should be compassionate.

I watched a science program the other day about babies and morality.  The babies, almost from beginning, understood some forms of morality and that was fascinating.  The knew the helper was better,they identified "naughty"  they even identified who deserved to be helped and who might not. 

At the end, they said some stupid stuff about "why?  it's evolution" which answered nothing.  I didn't understand why evolution would create children with an innate sense of right and wrong, and they did nothing to explain to me why they felt that.  Annoying.

I get more pleasure lately from watching the development of my students--I am involved with them, I love their devotion, their work, I love how much they enjoy their lessons, and I am constantly surprised at the new students walking in, and the new challenges they bring me.

How can I miss singing so much and feel so fortunate for what I do get to do?

I can't believe I will have a 2nd child in the Spring.  Here in the midwest, I count everything by seasons....I am so happy to know when the tulips come up, the baby will be here.  I may still long to sing, but time will go by.  It only goes so long :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Life at 13 Weeks

Ok, so I must be busy, because I have not been blogging at all.  14 days?  I have had so much to talk about--thoughts since the wedding, pregnancy stuff, teaching stuff, complaining endlessly about being sick.  But when I finally get Baby S (who is starting to seem like Young Child S) to sleep I hardly have the energy to think, much less write. 

We went to a 12 week appointment last week, and finally heard a heartbeat.  It was not easy to hear the heartbeat with the doppler, and the doctor had to try for a good 5 minutes while Baby S cried, made crazy noises, laid on the floor and tried to go visit the office fish tank.  After 5 minutes, he found it, and we heard a steady 165.  After the experience of the miscarriage, it was fantastic.  I underestimated how good that would feel, like a wave of security. The appointment seemed long, but positive, and I now have an official due date of May 28.  I look forward to a baby, with all the anxiety I have about pregnancy, I like to really fixate on the "after" part :) 

I am nervous about what to do with a baby, affording day care, commuting the distance I do with two children.  I think "I don't need two children, why would I choose that?" but I look forward to another child.  It's really a mixed bag of thoughts.  Hubby and I both have a pretty solid agreement that people who have a ton of children are insane, but when it comes to one, or two, or three, I guess we disagree.  I feel a little jealous of those totally satisfied with one child.  One child is more like an accessory to marriage.  Two children becomes a community.

I have been sick for four weeks, and am just starting to be able to phonate a simple song.  I still don't sound like a singer when I sing, and I am freaked out by that.  I think I must have developed some hard surfaces on my vocal chords from coughing.  I realize how much and how little of my identity is based on that voice, and part of me is afraid (illogically) that I'll never be able to sing again.  And part of me is afraid that I'm going to develop one of those insane psycho-somatic complexes that other singers get where illness takes away their voice, even though what they feel like is a need to release themselves from singing.

I don't want that release.  Deep inside me, I still long pretty intensely to sing on stage all the time.  When I think of the best of it, I miss it like a best friend.  When I think of the rejection I felt on the other end, I want to hide from that world altogether.  I am not sure when I'm supposed to dive back in, but I hope to do so--to dive back in to the world of singing and emerge with a new path.  I want to reinvent, but I guess at 13 weeks pregnant and teaching 50 students this may not be the best time.

In the meantime, I love teaching.  I hope to keep teaching more and more talented students, and watch them succeed, and comfort their failures, and encourage them.  I hope to keep missing the singing myself, honestly.

I feel like the smart thing to do would be to keep that on a back burner for at least another 36 weeks or so.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Almost a Real Person

There are times in the past 3 years that I have not felt like a real person.  I needed so much to be following a path, setting goals, and unfortunately, feeding one of my ambitions.  Unfortunately parenting and marriage, while good, doesn't seem to meet that desire.  There were times when almost my whole day involved being with a baby and speaking no "real" speech.  There was no smart arguing, no spiritual pursuit.  In those times I wished someone would just stop by my house and talk to me.

I have always heard you should avoid bothering a person with a new baby, and for me nothing could be further from the truth!  Three years ago, I felt stir crazy.  As my daughter gets older, this goes away more and more.  But sometimes I have half hour conversations about whether I like pink or yellow better.  And this does not make me feel any more engaged in the real world.

Last weekend I decided I should make a "teachery" move.  I joined the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) and took 3 of my best students to compete in Des Moines (a 2 hour drive from here).  I judged the competition, which was about 140 students split into about 10 divisions (more or less).  It was fun to judge--fun to make comments, to discuss with other teachers and feel llike my opinion was kind of important.  It was fun to listen to talented singers, and experience the "other side of the table."  From that side, it's easy to feel like nothing's personal.  Not the case from the singer's perspective, let me tell you!  Everything over there is personal.

Only one of my students went on to the semi-finals.  Her voice is special, and I believe she could really do something with it.  Surprisingly (disappointingly) she didn't go any further.  And I felt so--well, I guess too invested in that.  I wanted to find answers, to understand why she (and of course I) didn't win.  I questioned, was it me?  Could another teacher have made her win?  At the end of that long, and somewhat disappointing day, she got out of my car and said, "You rock."  I think this is why I forgive the flightiness of this student.  She makes me feel like she loves me. 

I suffered through the day, and have slept through the two days since then.  I am sick, still desperately bronchially challenged....coughing up hell.  I am still pregnant, as far as I know, exhausted and unfortunately nauseous.  And I want chocolate all the time. 

Today I was in a coffee shop near my home, playing Memory and drinking coffee with my 3 year old.  I was served coffee by a former student, spotted another student working on her laptop in the corner.  I found a private spot for us, and as we played, a woman approached me.  She recognized me, and introduced herself as a student's mother.  She gave me a check, and then a criticizing comment.  She told me that I talked about other students during her daughter's lesson and made her feel bad.  And I was crushed by the criticism.  I couldn't tell how much of it was my guilt over making a kid feel bad, or how much was that the mother's tone seemed harsh, as if I was doing inappropriate things and she was scolding me. 

It altered the rest of my day, making me feel like crap, basically.  And all I could think of was how much I'd rather just be "mommy" at moments like that.  I guess you can't have your cake and eat it too--either I have to be real, or be a mommy, or just accept the two lives at once.