Rachael Rachael, a mom of two daughters, is a freelance editor and writer who enjoys gardening and dreams of keeping chickens in her suburban St. Louis backyard. In her spare time, she helps to edit her husband’s science fiction books. Read more of Rachael's work at www.rachaelsjohnston.com or contact her by emailing rachael@mumblingmommy.com.

Having kids often means some things in life get put on hold. Gone are the late nights out with friends. Sleeping in is out for the next few years. Someday, you hope you’ll have privacy in the bathroom again. Sometimes, you also shelve your hobbies, or at least scale them down.

I’ve found ways to integrate some of my hobbies. I write and read while my children sleep. I garden while they play in the yard, and my 5-year-old helps water flowers and pick veggies. I also cook while they play nearby. But I’m on a piano sabbatical.

When I was a college student, one of my favorite ways to relieve stress was to walk a few blocks to the campus performing arts center. I would shut myself in a tiny practice room, just me and my music books and a piano, and the tension of the day slipped away on strains of Bach.

I majored in English and writing, but I’ve always had one foot in the arts, whether I was singing in my church’s children’s choir as a grade schooler, performing in community theatre during my middle and high school years, or gallivanting with a student-directed improv group and singing in a choral ensemble as a college student.

I got a late start as a pianist. As a teen, I got a hold of some beginner piano books and taught myself a bit on our piano at home, which only my dad played. I also took a few group piano classes in college. I was never accomplished, but at the height of my piano-playing years, I could play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata somewhat well, along with a couple of other classics. I had some praise and worship songbooks, and a few Christmas carols were in my repertoire. I also amused myself with a big hardback book of old-time songs and show tunes (think Gershwin, and lots of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals).

But then I lost my access to the piano. When I got married, I moved six hours away from my family, and dad’s piano, to be with my husband. Josh and I had been married for about four years when I inherited a not-quite-full-sized keyboard from dad. My skills had atrophied badly and I was ready to dig into my music books again, but by then I had a 2-year-old daughter who wanted to pound on the keys alongside me and threatened to topple the keyboard from its stand. I resorted to squeezing in practice time during my daughter’s naps, with the volume turned down low.

Then I had a second daughter and time for playing the keyboard nearly disappeared all together. Still, I requested a book on piano chords for Christmas from my dad. He recently asked how the book was working out for me. Well, I haven’t quite gotten around to it yet.

The keyboard does get its share of use. It sits in our partially finished basement, which is half playroom and half family room and library. I use it to practice my notes for the seven-member ladies’ ensemble I sing in at church. We sing in three-part harmony, so it’s handy to be able to work out my part at home. While I practice, my daughters cook up 4-course plastic meals in their play kitchen a few feet away.

Sometimes my oldest daughter, now 5, comes over to plink on the keys and make noise. She likes turning the dials and listening to the sounds change, and she giggles at the sound effects like gunshots, a helicopter, birds, and ocean waves.

Because the performing arts have always played an important role in my life, I will ensure my daughters have opportunities to learn and participate in music and theatre if they’re interested. I have dreams of someday teaching them the basics of piano and reading music. First, I’ll have to re-teach myself how to read the bass clef. Maybe I’ll get around to that at the same time I regain some privacy in the bathroom. Eh, at the rate we’re going, maybe I’ll just pay someone to give the girls lessons.

You can contact Rachael by e-mailing her at Rachael@mumblingmommy.com.

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Category: Life Changes

Tags: children