Guest Blog: What life is really like as a Mum on (a Music) Tour...with Miriam Allan
I’m that ghastly mother - the one who disappears for a few weeks every so often to “tour”. I “escape” the every day - the school run, the dinners, the arguments, the cello and piano practice, the desperate “please-poo-in-the-potty-not-your-pants-again”. I’m “that” woman who wears a fancy, booby concert frock and gets to travel the world, singing. I have a lot of boarding cards and occasionally drink wine in glamorous places, after concerts in world famous halls.
I’m also the Mum who misses her children with a pain that crushes her chest. I have the very best husband who could possibly exist and hate the patronising question “who’s looking after the children”? He’s not a superhero, he’s a DAD. And he is awesome at being a Dad. As good as any Mum. Certainly as good as I ever could be. He misses them as much as their Mum does. They miss him as much as they miss their Mum. And when I’m away they still are fed (well), clothed, cleaned and delivered. And they do their homework. They achieve. They love. They are loved and cared for.
Ever so frequently, people ask me “how do you do it” with a shake of the head? Or, MY WORST NIGHTMARE, “oh, do you still sing?” I had BABIES not LOBOTOMIES. Do you know how long it took me to get good at this?!
Airports are dull. Dull. Dull. Dull. Dull. Dull.
Sometimes we do awful concerts in horrible places with grim weather.
Most of my colleagues are bloody awesome. Without them I simply curl up and die. Especially my Les Arts Florissants family.
Number of babies does not equal inability to be involved as a professional. (I have 3 - babies that is, not professions.)
Do not be fooled. There are few things as unglamorous as touring. We see a lot of crappy hotels, crappy concert halls (ie. school gyms) and a huge amount of frustrating delays. We do also have some nice days and the sometimes the sun shines and the Spanish bar tenders are generous with the gin.
Some days are horrendous. We sing a lot of pieces for little remuneration or recognition. People forget to say thank you. Sometimes we just don’t get paid. (Seriously.) Sometimes we’re ill with something as simple as the common cold; and that renders us professionally useless. Thanks for that.
Many years ago, when my eldest daughter was quite tiny, I remember weeping on the shoulder of my husband’s aunt because I was going to leave my little one for a few days. (Maybe 36 hours?) Aunty was then, as she is now, sage. She said to me:
“how often are you away? Really? Add it up.” Then she said: “think about having a “proper job”. What time would you need to leave and when would you return? How many hours a day would your child be in childcare? How many hours of that day would your children be awake? “ She urged me to think about how many friends were working in a “normal” job and missing 12-14hrs of the day of their child’s waking hours. She was absolutely right. (Thank you, Elizabeth.).
It doesn’t always help. Oftentimes , I forget. Sometimes I hate myself for my life choices. Sometimes I couldn’t be more grateful for a “break”. But when I’m not away, I am with my children 100%. I go to school and do the “Mum” stuff. I make meals no-one eats. I cry and laugh and wish they’d stop shouting just as much as any other Mum. I detest moaning, love silly photos and pray for good humour.
So, next time you think: that Mum has it so easy........ think again. Everyone is doing their best. Sometimes we rock. Sometimes we don’t. Occasionally we absolutely suck at our jobs. Sometimes we throw up and are live on TV. (Happened. Hello French TV👋🏻👋🏻👋🏻). Do your best. Try and be nice. Say something kind and remember every Mum is every Mum. We have so much in common - you probably dress better than me, booby concert frocks not withstanding. (Awesome boobs curtesy of my babies.)
PS I’m also a breastfeeding Helper. ASK ME!! Please do not suffer. I volunteer for a reason.
You can follow me: @miriamsoprano on Twitter and Insta. Be prepared for knitting photos.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I am a professional classical singer, singing teacher, breastfeeding support counsellor, mum of 3 and keen knitter.