How Life and Motherhood — Plus Sickness, Snow, and Paid Work — Can Dampen Guitar Practice Goals

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

So had this whole vision of making March a true “Rockmommy month.” Time-strapped as I am, I would play two to three hours of guitar every week NO MATTER WHAT.

I started off with a bang, playing guitar at every possible free moment, and then some. After my kids went to bed, I’d strum. In the middle of a busy day, I’d strum. When talking on the phone to my spouse, I’d strum.

This worked well for a few days.

Most of you know that my main paid gigs are teaching guitar and freelance writing. My work is second only to motherhood and marriage. On March 3, I scored an insanely good opportunity to go out of town (to D.C.!) to cover a show. The same day, I got called up to do several other assignments. Life got suddenly busy again, but I was still determined to stick to my “two hours no matter what” promise.

Then my younger kid got sick with pinkeye, which wiped out a whole day. After the insanely D.C. show, it snowed on my birthday (which wiped out another day). Then, I got sick with the mother of all colds, complete with a sore throat and ear infection (my first in a decade or so).

By mid-March, I subconsciously shelved my disciplined guitar-playing resolve so I could focus on caring for my sick kids, working, cleaning, recovering, and building snowmen in the unexpectedly frosty March weather.

By the end of March, I was finally able to pick up my beloved instruments again, which I’d only played while teaching.

I alternated between feeling guilty for abandoning my guitar-player goals and feeling OK about it. On the one hand, I truly believe that setting goals is the way to achieve productivity and happiness. On the other hand, I’m a mom of two little boys! Feeding healthy meals to my kids, playing with Legos and pirate ships, and ensuring everyone’s clothes are clean is what I do. It’s my job. I don’t have help 24/7 — my husband is super busy in his own career and we don’t have a nanny to do all of my housework while entertaining my little guys. That, and I value the quality of my freelance writing! I can’t submit an article that’s half-assed and uninspired.

Now that it’s April, I’m back on track with my guitar-playing goals. I’m going to do my absolute freaking best to play 20 minutes to 30 minutes a day, gradually increasing the time I spend practicing as I get closer to my next gig, scheduled for May 20th.

Having goals keeps us motivated and driven. But when life happens, staying on track with goals isn’t easy — and it’s alright if progress slows a bit. This is true whether you’re trying to stay in shape, lose weight, knit a sweater, finish a novel, or play guitar for half an hour a day.

And should life get insane again, I hope I can do a better job of cutting myself some slack.

— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

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