It’s been a while hasn’t it? I would apologise, but you know – Pandemic – 2 kids – Being told I need to retrain – House that needs a million things doing etc etc! Anyway, the kids are back at school for now and since I’m getting through the job list, I thought I’d address how I’ve been feeling since the infamous Rishi Sunak “retrain” speech.
What he said hit a nerve to be honest! I went to university straight from college and managed to finish my degree just as the band was taking off. This was always meant to be my back up but having received my Bachelor of Arts nearly 15 years ago it feels a long way off from what I’ve been doing ever since. I have diversified with the times and am not only a musician but also a tour manager too. My entire income is based around live music and as we all know, this is currently non-existent. I appreciate that what Sunak said has some truth to it – We all have to adapt and you may need to find alternative work. But it was the callous nature in which this was presented that jarred. It feels as if we’ve been hung out to dry, certainly with regards to the arts – As if our jobs are not worthy of saving and everything we’ve worked hard to achieve means nothing. I’m now left feeling useless.
My husband and band mate, Jon, has thankfully been able to write and produce for other artists during lockdown and whilst this has been our saviour, it equally means that I need to be the primary carer for our two children, aged 5 and 3. Otherwise he simply wouldn’t be able to work. It makes no financial sense for me to get a shop job or the like if it means paying for extra childcare, so whatever I do needs to be a long term plan that fits around our boys. Most musicians I know have thought about what they’ll do next, whether that’s another career in the arts or doing something completely alternative and I’m no different.
At the moment my job description is ‘Stay at Home Mum’. This leads on to another insecurity that I’ve buried deep down that has lay dormant because being in a band meant I only had short periods of inactivity – Namely, the idea that “stay at home parents don’t work”. Anticipating the question “yes I know you’re a mother but what do you DO?” makes me squirm! I know from experience that it’s the hardest job in the world and that I’ve never worked as hard as I do when I’m with my boys. I’m not saying it’s always arduous. On the contrary, I love spending time with my kids but that’s not to say it’s not physically and mentally exhausting. Afterall, just because you enjoy your job doesn’t mean you’re not working! I may currently have 9am-2.30pm to myself three days a week while both children are at nursery and school but time easily disappears with keeping our life together (I won’t list the boring jobs here. I’m sure you can fill in the blanks!).
The questions fill my head, such as…Is it alright to be a stay at home mum? What do I have to say, other than being a mum-bore? Do I need something for me? Is it fair for all the financial pressure to be on my husband’s shoulders in this new economically uncertain climate? Can I even still call myself a feminist?! The expectation on women to do and be everything feels overwhelming. Having it all may be a completely different thing for me than it is for you. There’s not one universal answer, but right now it seems as if my “all” has been swept from under my feet.
I’ve had many conversations of this nature with Jon, various family members, friends and acquaintances, but it was one of my best friends that really helped. After a long FaceTime, where she simply listened and allowed me to feel validated in my concerns, and didn’t try to solve it all, we ended the conversation with her sending me a video of me going for it, full throttle on stage (Bassline – if you know, you know!) at the last gig she saw me play. She said some beautiful things and although I felt sad at missing those live experiences, I also felt proud of myself and looked at the crowd going wild with me and in that moment stopped thinking it wasn’t worthy and didn’t mean anything. It may not be an industry worth saving to Rishi Sunak or Boris Johnson but it is to me and I’m willing to bet everyone in that video too.
Also it’s Mum on Tour’s 1 year anniversary today! Here’s hoping they’ll be some tour chat to talk about soon.