I love working from home. It’s not for everybody, but it’s definitely for me. I like making my own hours, being my own boss, and being accountable to myself. I’ve finally found a job where I don’t have to suck up to the boss, or tip-toe around a cranky co-worker.
So naturally I thought that I was all prepared to have a baby. I’d pretty well established my piano studio with a decent group of students, had some gigs here and there, and was making a modest income. Other teachers had taught from home while having babies, so I’d be able to do it too, right?
Maternity leave? Sort of.
This was the hardest part for me: not working. Yup, I love what I do. I love music. I love the kids. I love teaching the kids. And though I loved my new little baby, I wanted to get back to everything else.
How long did I take? Four weeks. Unpaid, y’know? Will was four weeks old when I started up just a few students again. I’d feed him, change him, and get him in a wrap before the student came. It worked out great for a week or two, he just slept on my chest while I taught. And I thought “no problem, I got this.”
Colic might as well be a four letter word in our house. From when Will was about 6 weeks on, it made our lives miserable. That little baby that we waited for so long was so upset. He cried and cried, turned red, screeched, clawed and cried some more. And not for 15 minutes, or an hour, or two hours. He’d start at 1 or 2 in the afternoon and cry well past 10pm, even past midnight some nights.
Since most student’s lessons start around 4 or 5, I was frantic for a solution. I tried everything: car rides, stroller, swing, bouncy seat, music, white noise, wraps. You know what worked? A lot of the time, absolutely nothing.
There were so many times that I had to cancel a lesson because I just couldn’t get him to calm down. And I couldn’t even call, cause they never would’ve heard me, so I texted in shame. There were a few brave parents who would watch him during lessons. And I mean brave. I felt so bad, why couldn’t I get him to stop crying? Why couldn’t anyone get him to stop crying?
Eventually I cracked. Will was about 12 weeks old, and I needed help. One of my adult students came for a lesson, and though I’d been trying for hours, he was still crying. Actually, he’d been crying pretty much non-stop for 3 or 4 days late into the night. When I tried to switch him from the wrap to the bouncy seat, he cried even harder and I just lost it. And rather than teach her a lesson, I got to have a nervous breakdown while she took him away to cry in another room.
I took those 2 hours of relative freedom that afternoon to research local daycares (not for the first time) and had a list of prospects ready by the time my husband got home. This is the hardest thing for an independent, self-motivated woman to do, to say “I need help with my baby.” Actually, what I probably said was something like, “He’s broken” and “I need a drink.”
That night, I set up an interview and the next day took him to the daycare he currently attends 3 days a week. For the first month, I’d drop him off without a second thought. He was crying when I dropped him off, and crying when I picked him up. Thank God he spent some time crying for someone else, and I got something done.
No more colic, still DAYCARE!
Will’s colic got better gradually, and one day we realized he was a totally different baby. Now he smiles, and when he’s upset there’s generally a reason and we can make it better! But he still goes to daycare 3 days a week. Why? A couple reasons:
- He’s bored at home. It’s me, him, and 3 dogs. And I do actually need to get work done. Usually this work is practicing, sometimes it’s doing reading. This is not exciting to him. He loves the kids at daycare and has a lot of fun there. There’s always something interesting for him to do or see.
- I need to practice. Have you ever tried to learn a difficult piece of music with a baby in the room going “gaaahhh gahhhh gaaaahh, mamama, gaaaaaaah gaaaaaaaahhhhh!!!”? No? Good, cause it doesn’t work out so well. Don’t try it.
- He’s too distracting for the younger students. I teach students as young as 4, and if you think having a dog in the lesson is distracting, try having a 4 or 6 month old. Every time he moves, waves, gurgles, sneezes, or anything else, I’ve lost the student. They’re off to see what he’s about, or tell their mom what they heard.
Every baby is different.
From what I’ve heard from friends, family, and the all-mighty internet, every baby is different. We seem to have a baby that needs 24/7 entertainment. He can occupy himself for about 15 minutes a handful of times a day. But honestly, I’m going to eat, shower, or do something else vital during those times.
Maybe with the next one, I’ll be able to teach piano with a baby on my knee, but Mr. William Barford let me know at a very young age that he was not that baby.
What about you?
Did you have your baby with you while you taught piano? Did your teacher have a baby with her (him) when you took lessons?
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