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.