So......yeah. Blogging. I kind of dropped the ball there, eh folks? I mean, I didn't even write a single entry to tell you what it was like being a singer and a mom after my first gig. I am now into tech week of my second gig (Barber of Seville with Central City Opera), the baby is napping (for now) and I'm finally getting around to writing something. So that should tell you a little something about how much free time you have once you have a baby and you go back go work.
My first gig back was a revival of Agrippina in Berlin at the Staatsoper, beginning when Jackson three and a half months old. The hardest part about it was probably the fact that it was in another country, which meant a lot more complications with a baby than a domestic gig would have posed. Even though I felt like I had very little time to prepare vocally, my voice, miraculously was fine. The biggest problem with my singing was the lack of sleep, because once we changed time zones by six hours, Jax's clock got all messed up and he woke up every two hours all night long for the entire time we were in Europe. And since I'm breastfeeding him, I was the one who had to get up with him for all those wakings. Plus I traveled to Europe with 18 bags of frozen breast milk that I had laboriously pumped in the middle of the night leading up to the trip, and they all spoiled once we got there because the freezer wasn't cold enough, making my pumping and feeding him when I went to rehearsal more stressful than it already was going to be. It was interesting however, I have to say, discovering that after all these years of being absolutely crazy about making sure I got enough sleep, I could still function and perform well even on very little sleep. I'm not saying it wasn't difficult, and that I didn't feel like taking a nap in the middle of my arias sometimes, but I managed. It was almost like a natural beta blocker - the fatigue combined with the adrenaline of performance kind of balanced out.
We had three performances in Berlin and then a concert performance in Paris. My mom came with me to Berlin, and then at the end my husband met us there and came with us to Paris. It was very interesting doing this job that had always previously been the most important thing in my life when there was now something else that was far more important. In some ways it made singing easier because I felt less neurotic about it. If I didn't get the applause I wanted, I would forget about it immediately when I would go home and play with my baby. However, singing requires a great deal from a person, and I definitely found that finding the focus and energy you need to perform is much more challenging when there is a person who depends on you to keep him alive.
Now that I'm on my second gig, I can say that in some ways it definitely gets easier as the baby gets older. First of all, you become more confident as a mother, a job which you began as a complete amateur. After years of striving to be the absolute best at your job, becoming a parent and having no idea what you're doing is a strange experience. Now that he's a little older, it has become much easier and more manageable, and I'm better at focusing at what I'm doing in rehearsal (although I must admit that the first week of rehearsals here in Colorado I was far more discombobulated than I ever was as a non-mommy. Plus the altitude and the lack of humidity combined with the breast feeding and the lack of sleep (with this time change Jackson is now waking up at 5:30 AM every morning) was making singing more of a challenge than I ever recall it being). But it's seeming more and more possible to be a good singer and a good mother. I do, however, have a better support system than most people in that BOTH of my parents are here with me all summer long, not only looking after my baby when I'm at rehearsal, but also taking care of ME. My hat is off to anyone who does it without a LOT of help - that, to me, would be impossible.
So, now I have to go because my baby will wake up any minute. I need to feed him, feed myself, warm up, and go to our first sitzprobe, come home, eat dinner, give the baby his bath, nurse him to sleep, and then go to a tech rehearsal. But I'm going to make an effort to keep you more informed as we go along!