That very evening I boasted to my drum teacher that I'd actually managed to carve out a decent amount of practice time once the kids had gone to bed. We had an extra productive lesson. As I was leaving my teacher said, "It's too bad that you aren't 17 with all of the time in the world to practice, but you're still making great progress, especially considering the other demands in your life right now."
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As I witness these parents trying to do what is best for their kids, investing time, money and efforts into homework, tutors, after school activities and artistic pursuits, I feel exhausted and frustrated for these children.* It's easy to judge others, but this week that comment from my teacher gave me an aha moment. I am guilty of being incredibly hard on myself during a very busy time in my life as a working parent of twins. Maybe I'm not so different than those parents, only I've been directing it at myself which in turn is setting a terrible example for Molly and Jack.
About a year and a half ago my husband's band really wanted a drummer to help fill out their sound. I had always wanted to learn drums so I decided that I would throw my hat into the ring. The only problem was that I didn't know how to play the drums and my previous musical experience included middle school choir, eight guitar lessons and a grade six music class foray into the world of the recorder.
I took up drum lessons to learn the fundamentals, but spent most of my spare time trying to practice existing band songs, without focusing my practice on the basics I was learning in class. I was treading water, poorly. In the chicken and the egg debate there will be no chickens if you spend all of your time breaking eggs. I'd sacrifice hours a week, which I really didn't have, to practice, all while dealing with a flurry of daycare related illness and my adjustment back to work post-maternity leave. When it came time to practice with the band I would choke. The hours of practice wouldn't show, partially because I hadn't been focusing on fundamentals and partly because I had no clutch.
Everyone was frustrated, even though they tried to remain supportive because they knew I was working so hard. I had put so much blood, sweat and literal tears into something that was making me miserable. I'd never put so much thought into the effort versus output equation that wouldn't balance. Eventually I resigned to ease a mountain of frustration.
In the nine months that have passed since, I have worked on the fundamentals that I needed. I have played the songs that I want to play and it doesn't matter if they're peppered with mistakes. I have enjoyed myself infinitely more than compared to a year ago. It has become a hobby, not a thorn in my side. If I'm not going to expect my kids to be concert pianists the first year of their lessons, why would I put that kind of pressure on myself? Thank you little girl who is learning Daft Punk, you taught me something incredibly important.
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*With the exception of that one little girl who I know is dutifully practicing one of her favourite songs this week.