Everyone with small children knows that your life completely changes. Keeping your small human(s) alive takes priority, which leaves you with not much time for yourself. I think most new parents find themselves missing their old lives at some point.
What I miss most isn’t eating dinner at a regular speed. It’s not using the bathroom alone and it’s not sleeping in. What I miss most is playing the piano.
I have been playing the piano since I was seven years old. What started as a hobby turned into a passion, which turned into a career and an identity. I used to play for 3 hours a day. Now I am lucky if I play 3 hours a year. You know why? It’s not the lack of motivation and it’s not the lack of desire. It is because of kids – mine and other people’s.
Went into teaching because I loved music and wanted to help others enjoy it too. I also thought this would guarantee I would always have music in my life. Well, this was only partially right. I have music in my life, but the music is no longer mine. I spend my day talking about music, helping others make music and how to understand the language of music. I do not play music. I am a facilitator, a conductor but not a musician in the way I used to be.
I have felt this loss since I started working in 2008 after graduating from a music degree and teacher’s college, but it is especially pronounced since the birth of my son. At least I used to be able to play for a few minutes after work. Now I scramble to finish my work and race home to pick up my son at daycare. At home it is a rush to cook dinner, get him ready for bed and squeeze in some quality time. After he goes to bed, there is no way I am making noise. So I don’t play.
I used to tell my music friends that I felt like music and I had broken up. It was not mutual. Most days I’m fine, but sometimes I would see music around town and my tough exterior would crumble. Music looked good, but music had moved on and I was left alone.
This is true, but there is more to it than that. I genuinely grieve over playing the piano. I grieve for it like it died. The grief catches me at odd moments, overwhelming me unexpectedly to the point of tears. I hear a piece of music I love and I feel utterly broken. I used to play. I used to be good. I worked diligently at something for most of my life, but I will probably never be better than I was at twenty-one years old.
Though I know I am still a good musician, if someone asked me to play something right now I do not have a single piece to play. I feel like I have a perfect understanding of the English language but am unable to speak. I feel mute.
I know that my musical knowledge and skills are still there, safe in my brain. That no matter how rusty my hands may become, I am still a better musician now than I was 20+ years ago. I know that music is waiting for me, when I am ready. I know my son and any future siblings are worth it. I know , but it still aches.
I try to remind myself that someday when my children are older and I have a little more time, I will play piano again. For now, this will have to be enough.