Of course having such a life changing event as having a child would change my priorities in life. But when I found out I was pregnant, I wanted to keep things as much the same as possible. I knew things would change, but I wanted my goals in clarinet playing and how I would achieve them to stay the same. I even had this delusional idea that I would be able to prepare for an audition during his first two months of life.
Well, I’m here to tell you that really didn’t work out.
First off, I had to miss out on a DC band audition that occurred the first week of February. I knew that it would not be possible for me to travel all the way to DC from Hawaii while my son was so young and dependent on me. Both of us were new to the breastfeeding thing, and it would have been too hard for me to be absent for 3, 4, or even 5 days (even though he takes a bottle from his daddy like a champ!) Before I gave birth, I actually thought about working it out so that I could do a taped audition. Ultimately, I decided to wait to make a decision about that until after he was born. It didn’t take long after his birth before I realized that even getting out my horn would be impossible for several weeks! The first few weeks was seriously a blur…I don’t even think I slept in my bed for a couple weeks. My son was feeding constantly, and it was the most comfortable to nurse on the couch so I just slept there! I remember saying to my husband that I didn’t have a bedtime anymore! I just slept whenever I could. I barely had time to shower, let alone play my clarinet. In fact, my horns sat in my locker at work for the first 8 weeks of my son’s life.
Something I really didn’t expect is the biological effect that motherhood brings. I have found that I have to put my son first. Always. It’s a pretty powerful instinct! We’re both hungry? He gets to eat first. He’s crying? I drop everything and tend to him no matter what. That sort of thing. I even started crying once in the car when he started fussing and crying and I couldn’t do anything because he was strapped in his car seat in the back and I was up front. That was partly hormones though haha!
So, the point of this post…the Navy Band in DC ended up not picking a winner at the audition in February, and they are having another audition in May. My first thought was, its destiny! I will be back at work, so theoretically I should be able to have time to prepare for the audition. But then all I could think about is how being away for 4 or 5 days would affect Oscar. How would I deal with it? He’d be home with his daddy, but how would that affect our breastfeeding relationship? He’s taken a bottle many times while I’ve been out swimming or at a civilian gig, but not for more than a few hours at a time. Is 5 months too young to leave him for that long? Although I have started to prepare for the audition and I have made nice little schedule like the last time, I have found that what makes me the most nervous about the audition is not the playing part, but being away from Oscar for so long.
That makes me wonder if it is worth it to me to go. Do I want to leave him for that long? Of course not. But I have to remember that being in the DC band is one of my long term career goals – and my son will survive without his mom for a few days. Especially since he’ll be in the care of his wonderful dad. It’s that biological motherly instinct I was talking about earlier.
Maybe being so preoccupied with being away from my new son will be a benefit. I tend to over think about my playing and I get really nervous. But having a little distraction might calm me down when the time comes! Who knows. But I think this audition will be a new kind of challenge that I have never encountered before. Here we go!
One reply on “Priorities”
thank you so much for your post! I am in the same situation as you are – a clarinetist with a son, now already 6 months old!!! Yes, the first few weeks were … different from everything I had encountered before. Mama needs the bathroom? It doesn’t matter. Mama is hungry? Must be a joke. Mama is tired? Guess who doesn’t give a f…
I was booked for my first few gigs after his birth when he was 4 months old, the first time for me to leave town! (I was always back on the same day, though.) Papa did – and does – a great job, bottles have been for us the way to do it (the whole breastfeeding thing totally did not work for my son and me), and my partner supports me with all his being.
Two weeks from now I will be away over night for the first time, and I think it will go well. My son accepts it when he is brought to bed by Papa. It will be new to him not to see me rightn away in the morning.
Are you already back to your practice routine? I am not … I started teaching again when he was only 8 weeks old, it was distressing. For this reason, I will be on maternity leave for some weeks now and then (I am freelance but found a good, nice and flexible substitute teacher), and I hope I will get to practice on a more regular basis again.
Some of my lessons I give at home. One of my students, a 14-year-old girl, babysits next door during the lessons. This works great, and I might book her during school holidays or my maternity leave, just to be able to practice for a few hours per week.
All the best for you and Oscar. You will definitely rock the audition, and you will be sooooo proud of your partner and son!