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18 Musical Moms Talk Motherhood

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18 Musical Moms Talk Motherhood

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
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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
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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.


Kori Gardner
Mates of State
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Song: “Get Better”

Names and ages of your kids:
Magnolia, age 6; June, age 3.

How does having children and being a mother change the way you approach your career?
I appreciate my time more. It used to be whenever I felt like playing music, or playing a show, or recording, we could just be spontaneous. Now I savor those moments as an artist. With kids I focus on them when it’s their time and music when it’s work time.

Every time we set up a tour we have to be cognizant about school stuff, about how much is feasible with kids, etc. Also, because of being a touring musician and mother, I’m currently starting a new side business called ChARTer Nannies—which is essentially hooking up touring bands and artists with touring nannies.

What’s the best part about being both a musician and a mom?
Taking my kids on tour with me, setting our own hours, showing my daughters that you really can do what you want with your life and now that they are getting older we are having some sweet family jam sessions.

What’s the most difficult part about being both a musician and a mom?
Sometimes I wish had more routine and a set schedule in my life. Parenting is always easier that way—kids thrive on routine. But I’m guess I’m teaching them how to be adaptable and flexible.

What does your kid think of your music?
They ask for it sometimes and other times they say, can we please stop listening to your new song…

Right now Magnolia has four things on her iPod: Free Energy (whom we toured with—she cried when the tour ended), Cyndi Lauper, “Hey Soul Sister” by Train (kids in class have been singing it) and the entire Mates of State catalog. And they are good little sounding boards—kids are brutally honest when something isn’t instantaneous and perfectly sincere about what they like.


Shara Worden
My Brightest Diamond
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Photo: Michael Wright / Song: “Inside A Boy”

Name and age of your kid:
Constantine, 9 months.

How does having a child and being a mother change the way you approach your career?
I definitely think about economizing my time and energy, especially when taking on new projects. I’m more aware that when I say yes to one thing, I am saying no to something (or someone) else. In many ways life does not look that different, because I have been in writing and recording mode. After we do a bunch of touring in the fall I might have a different story.

What’s the best part about being both a musician and a mom?
Having a life dedicated to art making is exhilarating and it also comes with a lot of sacrifices. I’m really thankful that I waited as long as I did to have a child, but also that I didn’t sacrifice this experience of being a mother, for having a life in music. So far, the best part of motherhood is having this very unique kind of love, awe and wonder for someone.

What’s the most difficult part about being both a musician and a mom?
Missing out on my son’s first ride in a swing… It’s hard to miss out on the firsts in his life because I am working. And also, there are times when I don’t dedicate my time to a musical project, as I once would have. Sometimes I fall short, but I have to accept that what I have to give in each place of my life is enough.

What does your kids think of your music?
Constantine loves watching people’s fingers while they are playing guitar and he could stare at a drummer forever. It’s fun to see him soaking up music with his eyes and ears and body.


Emma Nadeau
Lost In The Trees
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Photo: D.L. Anderson / Song: “Walk Around The Lake”

Name and age of your kid:
Madeleine, age 2 ½.

How does having a child and being a mother change the way you approach your career?
I guess the stakes are a lot higher now, though I try not to let that get in the way of the creativity or the fun! But there is more of a pressure to be successful because I’ve got another mouth to feed, so to speak. And all the touring better be worth [for] every minute I have to be away from her!

What’s the best part about being both a musician and a mom?
Having an inherently social job is really awesome when you have a family! Although the consistency of a regular day job is attractive, I generally don’t envy nine-to-fivers whose jobs are totally separate from their families. Our house is the band hub for rehearsals, photo shoots, meetings, etc., which means that there are always people coming in and out. My bandmates are Madeleine’s best friends! And it’s really cool to see her develop a special relationship with music because she knows the people who are performing it. We’ll listen to albums by local artists, and she’ll say, “That’s Josh singing!” or “Mark plays the bells!”

What’s the most difficult part about being both a musician and a mom?
Touring is pretty difficult, but even worse than being away is the inconsistency and instability of it all. One month I’ll be in performance and late-night socializing mode and the next month I’ll be in full-time Mommy mode! Luckily, I have an amazing husband (also a musician!) who is flexible and able to be at home with Madeleine while I’m away. It can be really tough to negotiate sometimes, though.

What does your kids think of your music?
Madeleine loves it! Well, she loves Ari… whenever we get in the car and I ask her what she wants to listen to; she says, “I want Ari.” I really don’t think there’s ever been another answer to that question. There have been near-tantrums when I refuse, but there are only so many times I can listen to our records! And everyone in the band is very inspirational for her—one day it’s “I wanna sing and play guitar like Ari.” The next it’s “I wanna play violin like Jenavieve;” and whenever she taps on anything, she’s “playing drums like TJ.” Man, it’s dangerous to ask open-ended questions to moms about their kids—I could probably quote her all day…


Theresa Andersson
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Song: “Birds Fly Away”

What are you thinking of naming your kid?
We wanted a name that works in the U.S. as well as my native Sweden. We’re thinking of Elsie.

How do you think having a child and being a mother will change the way you approach your career?
Well, it already has. I’m 32 weeks pregnant and in the middle of making a new record (check out my Kickstarter campaign). It slows me down a bit. I have to consider my baby’s needs. That said it is the most spiritual way to make a record. When I sing and play the baby responds by moving, she’s a big part of it.

What do you anticipate being the best part about being both a musician and a mom?
Sharing my travel experiences around the world with my daughter will be incredible.

What do you anticipate being the most difficult part about being both a musician and a mom?
Changing the diapers in the van going down some bumpy road… The times when the whole family can’t be together will be hard. I’m currently strategizeing on how to get my husband to become my tour manager.

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