Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Question For the Masses Re: Dreams and Parenthood

ESPECIALLY single parenthood.

I know that a lot of married mothers (especially mormon moms - whom I was raised by and around - as it's soooo discouraged for them to work outside the home) sacrifice their pre-marriage/pre-mommy dreams to devote their life to parenting.
My mom gave up everything for us. She did music here and there but.... I often wonder, if she hadn't had 9 children and stayed home with us, would she be a big-time concert pianist? Probably. But her biggest dream was to be a mom.

When I found out I was pregnant with Sophia, I knew a few things instantly:

  • I would vow to myself and her to be grateful for every moment, because she was a gift, even if she wasn't planned. It's not her fault that she was born into a single-parent home.
  • Her father would not be any help, and I had to accept that I signed on for that.
  • My dreams would be put on hold until she was school-aged and I felt okay about spending more time on "me" stuff.
this worked out fine. 
I worked very part time and lived with my parents until she was 2 and a half, and then I got a full-time job and moved out on my own (which started a series of crazy disasters in my life).
When she was 3 years old I met the man I thought I was going to marry. We moved in together, got engaged, and I was happily thinking that this would be my ticket to a little more room to "grow" into my dreams. 
Less than a month after we got engaged, and a mere few days after he cried "happy tears" at my 7 week ultrasound, (oh yeah, I found out I was pregnant about 2 weeks after we got engaged) he dumped me for his ex-girlfriend, kicking me and my daughter out of his house and back into my parent's house.

OK, sigh, dreams on hold again. I was still only 23 years old. PLENTY of time. Right? We even had to put some of my daughter's stuff on hold.. her dance classes. The trip to Disneyland.
Last year, we finally went to Disneyland. And I worked up my courage and went to voice lessons and got myself pulled together and went to several auditions, all of which tore down the confidence that I'd been building up all this time.

Other things transpired, tragedies occurred, life... just happens. Life keeps life-ing, and I feel that line, "head under water, and you tell me to breathe easy for a while" [sara bareilles] is my life's theme. 
This year, relegated to Keyboard II at a fairly prestigious local theater where I've been in the orchestra for 13 (yes, 13) years, I'm feeling the void in my life. Excruciatingly. 
My son will be 3 in July. I will be 28 in August.
I can't remember the last time I went to a voice lesson, or really worked on my piano skills. My job doesn't challenge me or even excite me. It's been years since they gave me "the good part". I just get to fill in string, percussion, harp, etc so they don't have to hire 12 other musicians. 
It's not that I can't do it...
I think they can see that I've stopped loving it too. And I've become a different (less alive) person over the last 4 years. 
It hasn't been easy. I lost my brother. I fell in love hard, with a few different men (not all at once, jerk), and they all broke my heart and stomped all over it like it was a bug to squish.
It kinda feels like a squished up bug lately.
My son has been a trial that I never, ever expected, after 4 years of raising a brilliant, obedient and sweet, even-tempered girl....
Now I have a brilliant, disobedient, blatantly contrary son with a MAJOR temper that drives him to senseless violence.
He's adorable, and I love his guts. But he takes up every second of my time, and every ounce of my energy + some.
I've had to deal with a car accident that totaled my car, and the physical recovery time plus financial recovery (still recovering), a bogus DUI, lawsuits, court dates, car repossessions, moving around, job hunting.. failures.... mind-numbing depression.

When do I have time to work on me?
People tell me, try to write music.... they say, my foot in the door will be turning my poetry into music and singing it for people. I'd love to.
But you wanna know how long my LONGEST session at piano (besides at work) has been in the past YEAR? 
5 minutes.
And 3 of those were me desperately trying to learn a song by ear while my son banged on the higher register.  

I gave up in tears.

Wanna know how many poems/lyrics I've written in the past SEVEN years?
Probably about seven. Whereas before, I could bust out 7 in a day, on a good day.

Even the little things.. Zumba, Karaoke.. stuff I really enjoy that keeps my body and voice in shape... things that I made sure I was doing because it kept my head slightly above water most days... I have to give up, for the most part, so that I can make a living, and when I'm not making a living, make sure my kids still know I'm here for them.

My question is THIS:

Can a primary parent, particularly a single mom or dad with full custody, be both a good parent, support their family financially AND follow their dreams?

or is it just a selfish wish that I need to put aside?
Is it important enough that I'm truly fulfilled instead of just sometimes okay (if I'm lucky), that I should spend that much less time with my children, focusing on them?
Is it important for them to see me "go for it" and maybe fail sometimes, maybe succeed once or twice, so that they have an example? 
Because god forbid they don't follow their dreams. 
I want nothing more than for them to be happy. But can I do both? Can I follow mine and be enough of a parent to help them achieve theirs, and give them a happy life full of love and beauty?

Digging even further, do I need to... "redefine my happiness" and force myself somehow to be completely fulfilled simply being a mom, even though I think I was BORN with these dreams inside of me? I'm not throwing that one out as a possibility.

but... is it possible within the realm of any reality?!

lately, my brain is telling me no. Big fat fucking no. Hell, one of my dreams is to get married one day, and I can't even get out and date, so....

Right now I'm looking at going to school for women's psychology (if I can get enough grants/loans to mostly live off that and not have to work 2 jobs because that'd defeat the point).

It's sensible. I could get a well-paid job when I'm done.
It's logical. 
I might even love it. I have loved the idea, at times...
But then I think about how much I want to sing.... how much I want to be  able to do the things I see so many other people doing. And my heart sinks.

Please, discuss, comment? Suggestions? Anything... I'm really interested in opinions and ideas.

1 comment:

  1. You have to spend much of your waking hours providing for your family. Is there a way (becoming a therapist?) you could do this in a more fulfilling avenue. You seem to want more financial security and a job you like. As for the singing, 3 will grow up and be so much easier soon. Can you somehow incorporate the kids into your music? Playful parenting with music. Set up guidelines for when Mama is playing piano. Just for the now? Sing in the car. Or treat yourself to karoke one night a month or two? I tend to lean towards the practical though. I watch "Glee," but hope the kids will get practical degrees alongside the singing dreams. :)