Monday, June 3, 2013

Project Mommy

Thinking about dating, or at least, friends with benefits, and also reading Beans' post "Staying Interesting as a Mom" has left me thinking about what I could do to make me more interesting.

I've been thinking that becoming a mother has made me more introverted, but I realized today that's not quite it. The truth is that being with Calliope is not the same as being alone. Duh. This seems obvious, but it wasn't. Because she is easier to be with than anyone else, because I am so used to being with her.

But the result is that I really crave time actually alone. And in the evenings, when she's in bed, I typically watch a downloaded TV show and maybe catch up on blogs and Facebook.

But this makes me a very boring conversationalist. I mostly haven't cared enough to do anything about that. But I forsee a day in the near future when I might want to be a little better at carrying on a conversation about something other than my daughter.

To be clear, I don't think that I am one of those oblivious parents that blathers on about her child without being aware of my audience. Oh no. Last weekend, hanging out with childless friends of friends, I was careful not to talk about Calliope once she was tucked in bed for the night.

It's just that I didn't have anything else to talk about.

So I was generally silent.

My ignorance of the news, especially given that I was visiting Washington, DC, where news is what's for dinner, conversationally speaking, was especially noticeable. Hillary Clinton fainted? And resigned? Who knew?

Anyway, I've no desire to follow the news just yet. I don't care enough.

This obviously makes me shallow. I can accept that.

But I do care enough to make two (shallow) goals. Neither will change the world, but they will change me, just a little bit. A manageable amount.

One is to start reading New York magazine again. I used to really enjoy it. It's sort of a cross between a gossip magazine and a news magazine. But the writing is decent, and the gossip certainly isn't about dieting or bathing suits or anything like that -- they tend to do rather deep investigations of a random story I might not otherwise of heard of (even if I didn't live under a rock). Like, looking at the history of cheating in a prestigious NYC prep school, that sort of thing.

I figure this should give me some fodder for conversation and it's enjoyable, now that I have a little more free time with the infancy phase behind me. Reading really recharges my batteries, so to speak... so why not read something that might give me fodder for conversation?

The other thing I'd like to do is start playing music again.

I have never been a talented musician. And playing music is a solo activity, of course. But, something about hearing live music makes me feel alive ("canned" music leaves me cold -- I almost never bother to turn on my Ipod). Even just singing along with the street musician at the playground this morning -- his wonky rendition of Itsy Bitsy Spider -- left me feeling energized.

So when we got back from the playground this morning, I dug the Martin guitar that I inherited from my father out of the closet, where it has rested, undisturbed, since we moved into this apartment nine months ago. I dusted it off and tuned it and spent a few minutes playing and singing while Calliope played around me.

It was great!

My voice wasn't as rusty as I expected, probably from singing to her most days, so that was a nice surprise. (I sing "You Are My Sunshine" every night at bedtime, and as of a few nights ago, she learned to ask for "Sunshine?" so now I sometimes sing several rounds each evening. And then we sing Itsy Bitsy Spider for tooth brushing every night. And occasionally songs at other random times. Apparently that is enough to keep me ever so slightly in practice.)

My goal is to play both my guitar -- I can play basic chords and one bar chord and do some very basic finger picking, plus sing along - -and also the banjo -- I learned a few chords and then forgot them, several times.

My struggle with the banjo is that I love the clawhammer style of playing but the basic technique relies on a sense of rhythm, which I lack. If I could just get the basic technique down, playing wouldn't be hard and it would sound pretty good. Bluegrass style is much easier to master but doesn't sound as good. I've never quite gotten over the hump with the clawhammer style and I don't really like my bluegrass book and so I always get to a certain point and then give up again.

So my plan is to keep working on the guitar, and hopefully get past the plateau I've been at for several years... and hopefully that success will keep me motivated with the banjo.

Once I can master some basic banjo skills -- and this is the really exciting but also really challenging part -- my plan is to attend a "Banjo Slow Jam" meetup group for self-described "advance beginners." I am so excited by the idea of making music with others, knitting together my love of making music with an opportunity to socialize with others. And what sounds more breathtaking that making music with others?

My eventual goal would be to get a babysitter once a month to go to this Slow Jam. That's assuming, of course, that I like the group. I know the first time I go it will be terrifying. Meeting a whole group of new people plus showcasing my very limited banjo skills -- yikes! But if I can get over that initial hurdle, and if the people is nice and the music isn't too challenging, I think the group might really bring to life a dormant aspect of my life. I've never done anything like this, so it won't be easy. Wish me luck!

In the meantime: my modest goal is at least ten minutes of playing music per day. That should be do-able, right?


  1. Those goals sound great!! I may have to look into that magazine. I am not avid a reader as I used to be. I find I can't concentrate on books for long enough now due to the limited time.

  2. I think these are terrific goals. Music is magical and transformative. As much as being in my band has been an expensive endeavor with all the babysitting fees, it's not something I could do without. It definitely makes me feel like a well-rounded, and therefore more interesting, person!

  3. Great goals. I hope you manage to find the time for them

    I identify with lots of what you say too - I don't watch the news, I do hear the headlines on the radio so have a vague idea of what is going on on the world, but really, what is going on with BB is far more interesting

    With regard to dating - I just can't imagine it. I set a goal to do that when I am 50!

    Happy singing and music making

  4. Great goals Abby! I feel like I could use a little more "me" time too--the time in the evenings after Rowan goes to be don't really feel like me time given the sippy cup washing and laundry that needs to be done. So I need to figure out when I can make a little bit of time for myself. I've been contemplating taking a real lunch hour and just sitting in my car and turning on an audio book. I could lean the seat back and turn on the bun warmers and just stop. I think that's actually what I need more than anything--I've reached the point of exhaustion that I just want to stop and do nothing. Maybe after my house is sold and I get moved into a new house I can find some time of this type of time :)

  5. I love these goals! Especially the music - it will bring you so much joy, and Calliope will benefit from it, too.

    It's easy to forget there's a world out there, our worlds are so interesting with our little ones. :)

  6. I love your goals & they sound very doable!! I can't wait to hear how the Slow Jam goes! I hope you like it!

  7. I love that you have set specific and very attainable goals. Now you have me thinking about what I can bring back into my life!