A Soprano of a Mother

Did I ever mention that I’m a soprano.  I mean, I was a soprano.  I mean, I think I’m still a soprano.  I hope I’m still a soprano.  I want to be a soprano.  Still.

Four years of college and fairly regular practice, as well as one year of a master’s in vocal performance at a fairly prestigious music school.  Operas, oratorios, the works.

And then I became a mother and used it as a wonderful excuse to excuse myself from another year of school and another $15K of student loans. It was absolutely the right choice.  On all accounts.

I sang for church a time or two post-baby.  Not the easiest thing maritally when your spouse is paid to show up and work hard on Sabbath morning.  Because three minutes of singing takes several hours of focus and focus doesn’t come easily in the midst of spit up and oopsie diapers.

So when asked when I am going to sing for church again, I say, “Either when our children are older or my husband finds a new job.”  I tell myself that it’s just not the season in my life for singing, and that Sabbath is a time to be together as a family.  One family member otherwise occupied is enough.

But as the years (did I say years? am I old enough to say years?) slip by, I am beginning to second-guess myself.  That maybe all the hard work and blood and sweat I put into overcoming my terrible case of stage fright might just fizzle and disappear.  And so I’ll be a 40 year old soprano who can’t be taken out in public.

Which would really be too bad.

I’ve been practicing.  A little.  About once every three months.  On average.  I started working on Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock when I was pregnant with Lia.  Still working on it.  I think that in my heart of hearts I don’t really want to finish it because it would be kind of like being all dressed up with no where to go.

A few months ago I was starting to sink into a perpetual state of glumness regarding the whole thing when, out of the blue, people started asking me when I was going to sing again.  And not just Jim L., who is a professional percussionist who played with an opera company for years (and soothes my soul with his compliments).  But really random people.  Really.  Random.  People.

So I perked up and made a list – a recital program of sorts – of my favorite art songs (read: new repertoire!).  With a few of Lia’s favorite songs.  And made a folder.  And more recently, shelled out the dollars for accompaniment CDs and internet downloads.  And put a copy of all the texts and translations into my notebook that contains all the vital information about my life.  And put all the songs and accompaniments onto Devo’s old iphone, in lieu of my dearly departed ipod.

I got it all ready to go…and promptly got sick.  And lost my voice.  Finally got fed up (I still sound scratchy) and started practicing anyhow.  While I do dishes.  When Devo takes the kids and I’m supposed to be napping.  Or, like tonight, with Levi in our borrowed ergo-carrier after putting the girls in bed.  And as Levi nodded off to sleep, he would jerk his head up and look at me with that what-on-earth-are-you-doing-Mommy-it’s-kind-of-freaking-me-out look whenever I sang anything over an F.

I’m hoping to overcome all the fear and bad habits I’ve accumulated by thinking about singing instead of actually…singing.

After Levi went soundly asleep, I crept into the girls room to see if Lia had gone to sleep.  (She likes to “sleep” with her “eyes open”.)  My Lia who loves Shepherd on the Rock (she should, she’s been hearing it since she was in utero), and Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate.  And who’s newest interest is opera…specifically The Magic Flute (it has a princess – and the Queen of the Night).  She was still awake.  She hummed for me her favorite song from the evening’s concert.  And my little Mommy heart went wooshy gooshy.  And then she asked why there are no songs in English.

I guess I should probably add some songs in English.

I love singing for my children.  They’re so non-judgmental.  Unlike their mother.  But I’m working that.

On my way to blog about this topic, I passed by facebook and saw that my friend Scott had posted a link to a video Laundry and Tosca about a woman (a soprano!) who worked a 9 to 5 for years, while practicing and dreaming her dreams.  How…fitting.

Edited to add:  I just finished watching Laundry and Tosca and it was amazing.  I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.  If you have half an hour…


4 thoughts on “A Soprano of a Mother

  1. I’m glad to have shared this with you, even as I didn’t know how you’ve been feeling about music lately!

    A friend of a friend told my friend who told me that “coincidence and serendipity are God’s ways of being anonymous.” Though I like to think God doesn’t mind being called out, “Hey, You! God! Yeah… I see what You did there. Nice work.” So I thank God for this timing.

    “Laundry and Tosca” resonated a lot with me. THe creative communal worshiping experience of music is such a huge part of my dreams, yet has been fitfully present, nearly absent, from my three years of graduate school studying Worship, Theology, and Art. It weighs down, and a film like this — along with the director’s words, and your words — are deep calling out to deep.

  2. Well written. I think every mother with a college/post-grad education can relate. It’s worth it, but will we ever be what we once were? or could have been? something probably best not dwelt upon. But good on you for singing while you work! Imagine your life as a musical! I’m sure I would attend. =)

  3. I can think of a great way to solve this problem… just turn your life into a musical. When you’re telling the children to clean up. When you’re asking Devo how his day went. When you’re telling him how yours went. As you’re following a recipe. Blogging! Video blog while singing… mostly in keys above F. Just a suggestion 🙂

  4. oh, and you’re singing when you get to Guam! Christmas would be a perfect time. I’ll watch the kiddies though I’m sure you’ll have plenty of others to do that as well…

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