How would I explain to myself what I would go through between December 14th (the night I went into labor) and now if I had the ability to go back in time? The moment I felt my first contractions I was quickly catapulted into unfamiliar territory. Labor and delivery brought a strange kind of painful exhaustion and the weeks following were the truest test of endurance and stamina I've ever known. Sleepless, sweaty, milk-covered night after night, there were times I felt my grip on reality warping.
Even so stopping did not feel like an option for me during the fog-filled months of January and February. I worked through the fatigue trying to book more venue dates, schedule rehearsals and practice music. I performed a residency at Boxyard RTP in February while dealing with breast infections, lethargy and mental chaos. The time when I was supposed to be resting my mind and my body I simply could not. I think this was caused by a vague fear that the music world would move right on without me and I would start to lose everything I had created. I was conflicted about what to place my attention on: my budding musical career or my newborn daughter?
As I've inched forward to physical recovery after the birth my thought processes have cleared as well. More sleep, adjustment time, some good exercise and support from friends and family have all helped tremendously. As I feel stronger I have greater ability to hold space for multiple goals at once.
One thing I did not expect was that my daughter Juniper would become such an enormous gift to my musical life. Like a little reset button she brought a joy and purpose to my spirit I didn't know was possible. I had spent years studying music in academic settings pulling music apart and piecing it back together, something I now realize is quite a destructive act (though sometimes necessary).
This year has been entirely different. I have spent 2023 playing in front of the least judgmental audience that could possibly exist - a single baby. Did I miss a note? She didn't notice. Am I out of tune? She doesn't mind! She has loved my voice since she first heard it as a poppyseed in my womb. I'm learning that my voice has the power to soothe, to incite, to invite, to invigorate, to invoke interest, to delight. I'm learning that song is the best way to connect with the newest of minds who respond chiefly to the cadence of your voice rather than the actual words you're saying. I now understand why we have lullabies. I now understand why we make rhymes and poetry. There is something about children that reminds us why we make art in the first place. And I'm learning to look outward now as I play instead of pulling myself apart.