Several years ago I found myself doing what many mums do. Sitting for hours on a Saturday morning waiting for our little munchkins to take part in some creative or sporting endeavours. My two youngest were enjoying time spent in pursuit of all things musical in Kylemore College in Ballyfermot, and this meant a long morning sitting in the canteen waiting for them to finish with music theory, piano, violin and orchestra rehearsals among other things. Like some of the other parents I became involved in the parents association to support our children through fundraising and events, but that still left me sitting and ‘killing time’ every Saturday morning.
Well one morning I woke up and gave myself a shake, while I had always considered what my children needed to pursue, I had never thought about the fact that I also loved music, and to be more precise, I loved to sing. I sang in the shower (like who doesn’t!), I sang in the car, in fact I would sing at the drop of a hat, but usually only when I was fairly sure no-one was listening, or I was goofing about with the kids. Anyway! Why, I thought, was I just killing time each and every Saturday morning for the entire school year, when I was in a place that offered bot adult and children music lessons. Maybe in was time to dip my foot in that pond!
Bear in mind I was in my 50’s at this stage, but as my mother always said ‘education is never wasted’ so along I went to get the forms to enrol myself the following school year. I had a ball over the next 3 years studying voice with the lovely Lisa and also doing music theory (which was a whole new ball game for me).
The culmination of this endeavour, which ended after I moved from Dublin to Cavan, was both empowering and a lot of fun. On foot of the lessons I became more confident in performing in front of actual people! I organised a midsummer music concert to raise funds for my children school, and other parents and performers from Kylemore came and performed, and even more importantly, worked with the children in the school to enable them to perform in their own right. The concerts were a huge success, and engendered great confidence and enthusiasm for music performance in all who took part.
Now, there was one little rub to all of this, at least for me. These lovely people who came to see the concerts and to participate, were very complementary about all of the performances. In spite of this, and of the lessons and achievements in climbing the grades, I still harboured some doubts. So I set myself a challenge, which my youngest daughter decided to take up too. I was going to go and sing on Grafton Street!
Off we both went one morning during the school holidays, with backing tracks at the ready, and after a while we found a space to set up. Oh, the nerves! I can tell you I was shaking in my boots, as was my daughter, who pushed me forwards, saying ‘you first’ before starting the backing track. Now I could hardly back down in front of my baby girl, could I? So off I went with a short set of ABBA songs, gaining confidence with each note, noticing people smiling, some stopped to listen, and a few even dropped some change at the amp. That was wonderful, but then it was Molly’s turn. Now I know all mums are very proud of their children’s achievements, but my Molly has some voice! Nervously she started on her set, and oh boy did people stop and listen. It was electric and I could see her start to enjoy it, I could see her almost growing taller and more confident as she sang. The crowd grew, and some even asked for photos with her when she was done. They were filming her performance. She was so excited, even mores when she realised how much money she had! It was off then for lunch and a trip to Penny’s!
The one thing that really stayed with me that day was what she said to me afterwards! She said ‘That was so good mum, because they were strangers, and they didn’t have to pretend they liked it, they stopped because they really did like it!’. It really gave both of us a deal of validation, and a bucket of confidence to see us through.
The moral of this story is:
One: it’s never to late to learn something new
Two: Don’t just kill time, do something to take care of yourself within the perimeters of your responsibilities.
Three: Moms, remember your daughters learn from you, show them how to have confidence in the world, they watch you all the time, so be the woman you would like them to be.
Four: Push yourself outside of your comfort zone as often as you can. That’s where we really learn and grow.
Five: There is great joy to be had in sharing your skill and passion with others, and if it aids a good cause that’s the icing on the cake.
And six: It’s always a good day when you can enjoy a new experience, lunch and a trip to Penny’s with your daughter.