Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Kid is Trouble

Here is the email I received today (names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent):

Today foods class I had a bag of flour on my desk that I had purchased last night and did not have time to put away before class.
Boy 1 picked it up for some reason and passed it to his friend Boy 2.  Boy 2 passed it back but Boy 1 did not catch it.  Needless to say I had flour all over my pantry and the front of the room as they tried to clean it up and hide it from me.  Boy 1 did convince Anonymous Administrator to let him come at the end of 5th with a friend and he did pick up some of the mess but there is still flour behind the bookshelves and on the flour containers and the floor in the pantry.
Would you please talk to your sons about the principle that if it is not yours you do not pick it up.  I cannot imagine what good they thought would come from this mess.

My response?

I kind of laughed.

I know.  Does that make me one of "those" parents?  It does!  I know it does!  And yet...I still laughed!

It helps that I kind of know she's a bit of a grumpy teacher just hanging on for retirement.  And if there's one thing I know, it's that grumpy teachers hanging on for retirement should NOT be teaching 14 year old boys.  Should 14-year-old boys be throwing around bags of flour?  Heavens no, and he will be writing a letter of apology and paying for the flour, as well as cleaning her room to her satisfaction, and my email to her made that clear.

But really?  I love that this is such an old-fashioned problem to be having in school with 14-year-old boys.  No drugs, no smoking, no alcohol, no gangs, no cheating on tests, no fighting.  Just good boys getting a little out of hand in Foods Class.

I hope I'm always this lucky.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Path Chosen

Sometimes I think too much.

The truth is, I chose my path at the end of September.  And I'm sticking with it. 

The thing that has distracted me lately?  Doubt.  Plain and simple.  Doubt in my abilities.  Doubt that the inspiration I had six months ago (and many times since) still holds true.  Doubt that I can manage to keep juggling all the responsibilities in my life while adding still more.

But this is what I know: doubt and its best friend, fear, are no allies of mine.

After all, I never thought I was a remarkable pianist.  I knew before I started out that I have much (oh, so much) to learn.  So should I be surprised that I've had a couple of rocky performances?  No.  I should have expected it!

And balancing motherhood with music-making?  I've done it all my life.  David is fully supportive.  The kids are fine with it.  Why am I doubting that I will put first things first?  My family will always be my number one priority.  But I can still practice and make lunches.  I can study and take my kids to their lessons.  I can prepare a syllabus and help them finish their homework.  I can attend concerts and go on dates with David.  It's not either/or.

Am I going to be overwhelmed at times?  Yes.  That's nothing new.  There's even a chance that I work best and am happiest when I face a mental challenge.  And I KNOW I'm happier when I'm practicing.

If I get inspiration that my once-right choice is now wrong for me, I'll grieve, wonder why, and move on.  I have no desire to force my own agenda if it's not correct.  But I'm peaceful about this, excited about it, and ready to sacrifice the unnecessary things in my life to have enough time to practice, to love my kids and husband, and to do what needs to be done.

One more thing:  I made my piano blog private.  If you'd like an invite, send me your email address.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

I'm standing at my crossroads, and I'm surprised by the angst rising almost daily in my chest during the last couple of weeks. Practicing four hours a day is difficult in the best of times, and right now doesn't feel like the best of times.

What do I want? I want to take the path of music, of hard work, of discovery, to be a mother, a wife, and a musician. And at the same time I want to give up, to duck my head and say "Never mind," to learn to love the quieter life, to spend more time in service, in homemaking, in relationship-building.

I thought I knew which path to take, which path was intended for me. And now I'm torn. David and I have, after long discussion and thought and prayer, decided I will start teaching again to help make ends meet. This is exciting to me. I've been waiting for it to be right to teach again. I love teaching. I love the long relationships I build with students and families. I love training young musicians, introducing them to the joys of music making.

But how (HOW????) can I add one more thing to my already overwhelming load and to the load of my family?  Does this mean I turn back, finding my way to the path I left three years ago?  Or do I find a way to gain the strength I need to continue down this already rocky, already steep, but somehow exhilarating path?

I have often wished to have the ability to live two (or ten) lives simultaneously, but rarely as intensely as I wish it now.  I want to be a stay-at-home mom with all the flexibility and freedom this life offers. I want to be a pianist, with all the richness and depth and art that life offers.  (I'd also like to be rich and have people cook and clean for me, but I don't know how I'd achieve that in any imagined life.) 

I also wish I had three or four or five more hours a day, and I thought I could find some time by sleeping less, but I already find myself falling asleep at the keyboard almost every night. Last night I tried to run my program. When I was halfway through the Chopin, my eyes closed and I nodded off. When I woke up, I realized that not only had I fallen asleep again, but I'd skipped an entire movement of the Beethoven. Not the best quality practicing. (I also don't suggest less sleep when driving is so much a part of your daily life. I'm pretty sure it's not safe to fall asleep at stoplights.) 

I'm praying constantly for guidance, but the heavens seem closed. Is that because I've already had all the revelation I need, and I should just stay the course? I don't know. But the night is drawing near and I need to choose my path.  I can't just stay here waiting at the crossroads or my choice will be made for me.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Journey

Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice--

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

"Mend my life!"

each voice cried.

But you didn't stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do--

determined to save

the only life you could save.

I love this poem.  It describes my life right now so beautifully.  And I must clarify: All those voices, the ones with the bad advice, the ones trying to pull my from my path...they are the voices of fear, of inadequacy, the voice of the adversary.  My family, on the other hand?  Their voices are saying, "You can do this," or  "I love listening to you practice," or "How many more hours do you need to do tonight?"  They're pulling out my coat and packing me food for the road.  They are magnificent.

The road is steep and rugged and challenging, but it's beautiful and exhilarating.