A few years ago when my budding teenager and I were going through severe turbulence I’d lock myself in the bathroom to calm myself down before I shouted something I might regret. You may be wondering what this has to do with the music business. Stay with me.
On one of those occasions I read something that gave me pause:
(I paraphrase). At some point in your teenagers life, when all you want to know is EVERYTHING that’s going on, not just because you are nosy and protective (well that too) but because you are really truly interested, that’s exactly when said teenager may opt for more time behind a closed bedroom door. This can make a mother (or a father..but more likely a mother) feel neglected. And rejected. This behavior is quite age appropriate (for the mother) … (Oh, and for the teenager as well). While reading further my eyes widened at the suggestion that I try lowering my expectations…because if I could, there would be less room for disappointment.
Gasp. But I like to expect. Anticipation is a good thing. Carly Simon said so. And I love Carly Simon. Plus lowering my expectations goes against my very nature. Aren’t we taught to shoot for the stars? Aim for the sky? It feels like I’d be pouring out a few inches of water from a glass half full. But Ok. I’m all ears…I read on...
"We must stop bending over backwards to please our kids, even though every inch of our being lives for their happiness, for if we are rejected, We will end up feeling heavy hearted."*
I decided to experiment. Over the next few weeks I stopped asking my daughter, (like 5 times a day) if she wanted a snack. I stopped making emergency runs to Ralph’s because I forgot the pre-sliced apples (a rip off by the way). I went about my business and left her to hers. I even started getting those $25 foot massages once a week after dinner instead of waiting around to see if she wanted to get some frozen yogurt. Even though I was sad to have to pull back, I was happier… if that makes any sense. And she was happier (I’m pretty sure). Anyway there was a lot less turbulence. We unfastened our seat belts.
So…here we go…I started wondering if I could apply the same idea to the changing music business. See where I was going? Maybe it was a good time to face the reality that it was no longer likely I was going to land 5 songs on 5 albums that went triple platinum. Year after year. Wahhhh!!
But what felt like a challenging yet beneficial adjustment in my relationship with my daughter felt like a killjoy when it came to my work. At least with my daughter there was a trade off. Less hovering = Less turbulence + more foot massage. :) But in my career, where would I redirect the energy that went into all those great expectations? And what would the trade off be?
I think I wrote my way to my own answer. We are mothers because we are mothers. We love because we love. If we get hugs back that’s gravy. We are going to love anyway. We are writers because we write. If we get a gold record or our book published? More gravy. Why was it we started in the first place? Truth is we probably do our best writing, (and are the happiest mothers), when we expect nothing in return.
*I was so discombobulated from the turbulence I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember from what publication this came: My favorite manual “Get Out Of My Life But First Can You Drive Me & Cheryl To The Mall” or an enlightening newspaper article. I spent hours scouring my personal highlights in my “bibles”. I even re-purchased them on Kindle so I could do a search. But alas, I cannot find the source. I want to give credit where it’s due. And as soon as I figure out who to give it to I promise I will.