Written by Sina Watson

It’s been said that motherhood is one of the hardest, but most rewarding jobs in the world; while working in the music industry comes with its own set of challenges as a female. In an industry where women are a minority, combine that with added responsibilities of  being a mother and the pressure is astronomical.  Yet, somehow these supermoms balance both their kids and artists; they schedule play dates and tour dates.  I connected with two incredible mothers to shine some light on the hardships, stigmas, and rewards of both. 

May Erlewine is no stranger to balancing music and family, having grown up with a father in the blues band The Prime Movers and an uncle who is a luthier. As a teenager she hitchhiked across North America to share her music with everyone. This incredible mother and musician from Michigan has over 15 albums of original works covering everything from rock music and soul to country and good old-fashioned folk. 

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What are some challenges you faced while working as a mother in the music industry?

In some ways the flexibility of a self employed musician really lends itself to the ever-changing nature of being a parent. In other ways, it is pure chaos. I think some of the biggest challenges I face as a working mother are related to social stigmas around working women, in general. We are really lacking in this country in the way we support new parents. I think it has to do with what we glorify here as a society. Fast paced, burn out work ethics and then the cookie cutter mom that devotes her entire existence purely to her children and school cupcakes. All of this is fine, but I found myself being judged as a “has been” because I’m a woman over 30 and have a kid, and then also judged because I’m a working mom and not with my daughter every moment. I noticed something early on, when folks see a man without their child people ask how their child is. When people see a woman without her child, they ask where their child is. Shame and guilt towards working mothers is a very real thing that really needs to shift.

Has working from home during COVID-19 affected your family dynamic? (More time home, harder to focus)

Being a single mom, I’ve gotten used to shuffling things around and making it work. We’re a good team and both adaptable. It’s been a little crazy to juggle home-schooling and keeping up with the day to day. Having no child care to call on, means more back flips from mom to keep up, but we’re doing it.

How do you balance nurturing both your child and your art?

I honor them both as important and try to find a healthful balance. Obviously, my child comes first, but I know that being passionate in my art is also part of being a good mom and example to my daughter.

How has being a mother positively impacted your life and career?

Honestly, it’s hard to qualify all of the ways things have changed, because it all has. My heart opened in ways I never imagined possible and I am reminded by her what is actually important every day. Honestly, I am way more efficient with my time and energy than I was and have a great guide. When we act in the best interest of our children, it’s usually a good way to go in general.

What is the best advice you can give to a new mom in music?

You can do this and you’re not alone! It’s not going to look like other families and that’s what is beautiful about it. Trust your own path as a mother and do what works for you and your child. Nothing else matters.

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May and her daughter Iris

What Is your favorite part about being a mom?

The bond that is formed between mother and child is so special. I feel so honored to be that person for Iris, my daughter. I feel so lucky to be the one to show her the world and to see what she has to teach me, too. I love our bond and the time we share, it’s the very best feeling I’ve ever known.

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Another mom in music is Amber Buist who has made music a family affair! Amber met her husband Rick while playing and working in the music industry. She is a former vocalist while her husband worked with several Nashville artists and the Grand Ole Opry.  During their time as a foster home, together they welcomed over 50 children into their home, before adopting their last foster child to complete there family of 5. When her daughter, Savannah, and her friend Katie started their group The Accidentals, she knew no one would have their business interest better at heart than herself. Amber previously worked behind the scenes in marketing and management. Acting as the groups Co-Manager she’s handled everything from driving on tour to logistics and marketing. 

What are some challenges you faced while working as a mother in the music industry?

The music industry, like all jobs that require travel, can manifest a sense of guilt in the coming and going. I would say balance and time management are the most challenging.

Has working from home during COVID-19 affected your family dynamic? (More time home, harder to focus)

 Working from home, while everyone else is working from home has been amazing. I don’t feel like I am missing anything and there are no pressing “need to be there” situations so I am able to focus.  I have accomplished more from home this month than the last couple of months on the road.  (Even while homeschooling and providing three meals a day for seven people).

How do you balance nurturing both your children and your art?

 Most of the time one of those things is lacking. I am constantly reassessing both. On one hand I feel like I appreciate my children more when I come home from a trip, I don’t take anything for granted.  On the other hand I am constantly worried when I am home about my ability to work from a distance. I think you have to decide which is more important and then set your priorities, no matter how hard that is. Once I admitted I couldn’t have both in equal measure, I was relieved.  

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Taken from The Accidentals Facebook

How has being a mother positively impacted your life and career?

Being a mother prepared me to be a good manager. It is more than cleaning and loving. It’s problem solving, negotiating, the art of losing to win, organizing, paying for a hundred little things that you hope will someday pay off, and making sure they don’t fail while empowering them to try.  Those are the best of things. Being a mother taught me to love deeply, hurt deeply, and trust unconditionally. I can’t imagine my life without those lessons. 

What is the best advice you can give to a new mom in music?

 To a new mom in music I would say prioritize your time with your child, then your self, then everything else. Most of my counselor friends would say put your mask on first but most mom’s I know won’t do that. Our first instinct is to protect our children and squeeze out a couple drops for ourselves once they are ok.

The big takeaway is the business will always be here, it will continue to move at warp speed, we will always create in the quiet spaces. When your child is safe, find a quiet space and don’t ever feel guilty about creating.  Time away is ok as long as you find the balance between too much and not enough.  Be kind to yourself. 

What Is your favorite part about being a mom?

Sometimes I look around the room and my kids are laughing and caring for each other, self sufficient and problem solving, I think “partly because they had to learn while you were gone to do these things” and partly, “well, you did something right.”  

The older two of my three kids are starting that transition from “parent” to “friend” and that makes me all the more appreciative of time. I have personally never experienced love as intense as the love I have for them. To give and receive that kind of love is priceless.  Looking back at all the cumulative memories I realize they’re the greatest gift of my lifetime. 

While these two women embody music and motherhood together, let’s not forget about all of the mom’s out there. Happy Mother’s Day to the mom’s that bought your first instrument or drove you to your first gig. If it wasn’t for their continued hard work and support many of us would not be were we are today.

Connect with May Erlewine

Facebook | Spotify | Instagram | Web

Connect with the Accidentals

Facebook | Spotify | Instagram | Web

 

 

Posted by:Sina Watson

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