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18 Musical Moms Talk Motherhood

May 7, 2011  |  11:22pm

As a website that celebrates all kinds of artistic creativity, we regularly talk about ambitious art as a mind-blowing original documentary, experimental gaming platform or a sprawling double LP. But today we acknowledge that all these pale in comparison to art of parenting.

And for moms who happen to be professional musicians, splitting time between music and kids places them at a creative crossroads during every waking hour of their day—crafting a pop song at one moment and taking the kids to school the next; touring while changing diapers; practicing songs as well as potty training.

For Mother’s Day, we’ve decided to not only look at the maternal ties that bind moms and their children together, but the musical bonds that run deep within each of these families. We spoke with 18 musical moms to hear how they manage to keep their sanity amidst these two hectic full time gigs.

Kimya Dawson
The Moldy Peaches
kimya and panda photo by chrissy piper .jpg
Photo: Chrissy Piper / Song: “Anyone Else But You”

Name and age of your kid:
Panda Delilah, age 4.

How does having a child and being a mother change the way you approach your career?
It hasn’t change things all that much. She’s been to 18 countries and does really well on the road. Sometimes we bring a babysitter on tour with us. That really helps because Panda isn’t always interested in hanging out at the show. I guess the other difference on tour is that we are less likely to sleep on the couch or floor of someone we don’t know. That’s for both safety reasons and social reasons. It’s hard at the end of an overstimulating day to not have our own space to wind down in, so we usually stay at hotels or with friends who understand that we need some space. I used to crash in any old place.

What’s the best part about being both a musician and a mom?
Panda has been around music and musicians her whole life. I was touring up until 12 days before she was born. She makes up little songs and has a really amazing sense of humor. She just asked me the other day if she and I can make a follow up to Alphabutt, another album for kids. I love that she wants to make songs with me. We’ve been able to take her to a lot of places and she’s been exposed to a lot of cultures and languages. It’s also great that my schedule is totally flexible when I’m not touring. We have lots of time for adventures.

What’s the most difficult part about being both a musician and a mom?
The hardest part is making sure that she doesn’t just get swept up in the chaos of touring, and really taking time to figure out how to meet her needs. She’s old enough to start kindergarten next year, but we’re likely going to take the year off of school and tour. I’ve begun networking with other unschoolers around the country to make sure she has kids to play with along the way who can take us to cool places like aquariums, amusement parks, children’s museums, and playgrounds. Keeping her social and entertained is challenging, but when we figure out what’s fun for her, it’s usually fun for everyone.

What does your kid think of your music?
She likes my songs for kids and a few of my other songs. There are only two or three songs on my new album Thunder Thighs that she likes (one of which she co-wrote). She doesn’t like sad songs. She hates the mention of death. I totally understand. From when she was nine months old, she has reacted really strongly to certain sad songs. I have a lot of sad songs. I’m not offended that she isn’t into them! She’s four. She loves burps, farts and puppies.

Amy Milan
Stars
amy_delphine.jpg

Song: “Set Yourself On Fire”

Name and age of your kid:
Delphine Rita Jane Cranley, 6 weeks.

How does having a child and being a mother change the way you approach your career?
There’s a temptation to run for the hills with the baby strapped to my back and never return. Writing music and playing guitar behind a farmhouse for a whole brood of children seems more glamorous now. Maybe my career is about to take a sharp turn: “Free-run hens—sold cheap here!!”

What’s the best part about being both a musician and a mom?
Musician pals make a great village. Everyone feels in on your new person and you know your kid’s life is going to be rich with wing-nuts. Plus, having two musicians as parents means we make up about 17 songs a day—songs to go along with all the ins and outs. “Shushy pants” is our latest hit.

What’s the most difficult part about being both a musician and a mom?
I’m not sure how much hearing I have lost, so when we play “C is for cookie,” is it way too loud?

What does your kid think of your music?
Well right now she thinks my music is Alison Krauss and Ralph Stanley because that’s what I’ve been singing all day since she was born. So far her huge blue eyeballs seem to like it.

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