The Melody of Magnolia

Oct 1, 2009 at 11:14 pm |
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I’m in a Detroit backstage room staring at purple walls covered in misogynistic graffiti.  I’m happy my 20 month-old daughter didn’t come to the club tonight: it’s dark, dismal, and smells moldy.  She, meanwhile, just took a bath back at the hotel with my mom, who is nannying this tour.  I called to say goodnight and to brush her teeth.  She requested Gummi Bears (“Dummi?”): my mom’s reward when she brushes her teeth (typical grandmother spoilage). She’s having a “normal” night at “home.”  That’s my biggest concern living this kind of life – as a mom and a working, touring musician – I want my child to feel normal and at home.

Magnolia has been on about 5 U.S tours and one European tour.  While at home, she goes to daycare for 10 hours a week so that my husband/bandmate and I can write and record.  We’ve justified our lifestyle by noting we spend way more time with her than most working parents do. In fact, there are 2 parents with her 90% of the time.  Regardless, I still often envy the stay-home moms I know.  After all, they have consistency whereas my life is uprooted every time a tour starts.  People tell me that it’s important to “make time to be your own person” once you have a child.  I hope that by example, my daughter will see music is a big part of who I am, and that will inspire her to define herself…through art or music or science, whatever it is that she’ll love.

I’ve found the key to relieving insecurity about bringing up a child in this situation: make it all revolve around her.  Tour drives scheduled around her naps; diapers and toddler food requested on riders; people who love her surround her.  So although I feel guilty at times driving around for weeks, changing hotels nightly, and having a nanny put her to bed at night, she’s happy and her parents love her more than what they do, more than themselves.

I’m doing something different with my life.  But I don’t think it’ll sound weird years ahead. There are thousands more women in bands than ten years ago.  Inevitably there will be more mothers in bands. Maybe we are just pioneers: those who can’t afford 3 tour buses, etc. We believe in our art nonetheless.  And we still believe we are great moms.

I’m for making motherhood and musicianship work hand in hand.  People laugh when I suggest clubs start accommodating mothers and children better. Actually, women don’t laugh at me when I envision this family utopia: it’s usually the men who find it ridiculous.  But how about dressing rooms for women and families only?  How about babysitting provided by a reputable local with references?  How about a clean, private breastfeeding area?  How about a play area backstage? We at least do what we can as a band: our shows are non-smoking.

The next night, it’s sound check in Cleveland and Magnolia is at the drums pounding away and singing simultaneously. The opening band watches and cheers her on.  Having a child on tour really keeps morale up: everyone in this dark, dingy club is smiling.  This is what normal should feel like. That’s what home feels like.  You can’t fake happiness at 20 months old.

I’m in a Detroit backstage room staring at purple walls covered in misogynistic graffiti.  I’m happy my 20 month-old daughter didn’t come to the club tonight: it’s dark, dismal, and smells moldy.  She, meanwhile, just took a bath back at the hotel with my mom, who is nannying this tour.  I called to say goodnight […]