This time of year is the pits. The struggle is real, and various job stressors are creating a Palestinian / Israli type of situation up in my shoulders and neck (too soon?). I’ve written some crap posts at unacceptable intervals this week, and because I’m a freak about goals, I’m majorly disappointed in myself, even though that onus** is totally self-inflicted. In sharing my frustrations with my husband, I was met with a lot of sort of casual skepticism, but not in the sense that my issues aren’t valid or legitimate, but that…I’m a musician and I’m trained to be constantly self-aware/critical of everything I do, and I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. It’s still hard to accept what I feel is less when the very nature of what I do is to push the boundaries of my own potential and that of my students.
All this got me thinking about how much our spouses put up with. When I say “our,” I mean musicians, teachers, composers, performers, and other artists. It really is important that our other halves keep our crazy-ass behaviors at least somewhat in check. That’s marriage, right?
Here’s the special set of skills it takes to marry a music teacher:
Dinners: Create a Custody Agreement
Give up (right now) the notion that we will be home for dinner more than 1-2 nights a week (on a good week), because music teachers are rehearsal vampires. In the coveted instances that you will get to share a meal with your spouse during an acceptable hour, plan on those occasions occurring at completely inconsistent, unpredictable intervals. Better just to be ready to pop a frozen pizza in the oven or head out for margaritas at the drop of a hat. Or invest in a crock pot and cultivate a custody agreement: you make the stuff inside it, leave it on “warm,” and we’ll pick at its contents at the end of a long day and clean it up. In the spirit of a true custody arrangement, we’ll make up for this by cooking lavish, scrumptious meals on weekends and holidays.
Understand Our Calendars are like Jackson Pollock Replicas
In case you spent your courtship and engagement under a rock, you’re probably fully aware by now that the complexity and intricacy of your spouse’s schedule is only rivaled by the great and unsolvable Rubix cube. There is no understanding The Schedule. Learn to savor the elusive yet beautiful moment in time when the colors align and your spouse gets out of rehearsal early (ha), or has three lesson cancelations in a row at the end of the evening and no extra grading or bookwork. If you need to know where we are at any point in time, the best we can do is share our seven color-coded categories on iCal with you. Just ignore the fifty daily notifications as we add, change, and delete our various engagements. Resistance to The Schedule is futile; just let it be.
Know this: It’s Not You, It’s Us
We are moody, fickle beings. You knew this when you married us. Pay no heed if we prefer to sit in total silence at the end of the evening with no indication that we are alive other than the occasional blink. If we bitch you out for forgetting to wash the dishes, or for waiting for the metamorphosis-to-forest stage before you vacuum the house (a la Where The Wild Things Are), it’s probably because one of our jobs didn’t come through with payment, or one of our students is just wasting their potential, or we are contemplating why the rest of the world isn’t striving for greatness. We’re volatile. We’re artists. Sometimes no one will reach us, not even you. It’s not you, really. It’s us.
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year Won’t Be So Wonderful
The graph of our years has several exponential crests and dramatic dips, the greatest of which occurs in December. Some years, we’ll just have to kiss you goodbye on December 1st, delegate all holiday planning to you, re-apparate on 12/23, and proceed to cram twenty day’s worth of work, decorating, and cooking into a frantic forty-eight hours. Our call to duty this time of year is important, because as soon as the Halloween costumes are shelved, society demands to hear the Sounds of the Season, which inevitably includes caroling, private dinner parties (the hosts of which give as much as four day’s notice…), holiday concerts, recitals, and as is the trend in recent years, flash mobs of Handel’s Messiah (a nice, easy read). We knew all this going in, but we promise that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are all yours (except for the church services…).
We Wouldn’t Have it Any Other Way
While we are musicians, performers, and educators at heart, we wouldn’t be who we are without you. You balance our crazy, and we need that. Our lives are predictably unpredictable, our time is precious, and we believe in our work. Sometimes we are more than what we do. Sometimes we are husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, friends, athletes, or hobbyists. But we usually can’t totally compartmentalize who are; creators. We believe in creating something worth sharing, or teaching others how to do the same, or supporting other creators. You are along for the ride, and so in a way, we have believed enough in the creation of our own lives to include you in them, and we really wouldn’t have it any other way.
So there you have it. The rest is cake, really.