Published on October 29th, 2013 | by Eliza Moore1
Eliza Moore on Staying Creative Through Pregnancy And Beyond
“How ideal that you are a musician. Your child must love to hear you sing and play your instruments,” is the usual reaction I get from people when I tell them a bit about myself. The truth: my son, Xavier, tends to scream at the top of his lungs unless I am playing “Wheels on the Bus” or singing lullabies from his favorite bed time book. Now that he is three, he has relaxed a bit about mama playing fiddle and singing, but for the first few years, my reality was that Xavier loved music, just as long as I wasn’t playing it!
Many of the parts of motherhood that I had assumed would be blissful connective bridges into creativity are less so. It is the elements that have taken me by surprise that have brought the most inspiration to my music and my life as an artist.
One of my biggest fears before having a child was that I would lose myself and my creative time to motherhood, leaving me longing for the days before babies. Instead I can not believe how difficult it is to remember what life was like pre-Xavier. Of course, I can rationally remember that my time was more self focused, offering luxurious hours of internal reflection, yoga, self help books, meditation, and of course partying with no thought of the next day’s hangover. However, the big shocker is that I don’t long for my pre-natal days on a primal level; I feel having a child has enriched my writing and actually sharpened and heightened artistic drive and focus.
I also hadn’t expected that pregnancy would be one of the most creative times of my life. I can’t explain it rationally, but for me, when I am pregnant, I have a sense of doubled artistic power. Without sounding too whacky, I often felt as though I was channeling lyrics and melodies from the baby inside my belly! I will never know whether or not “we” were truly up to something mystical, but I suppose that doesn’t really matter. I think being pregnant helped me disassociate my identity with the creative process, letting the art form follow her own magical path. However, even knowing that essential trick in my rational mind, I have never been able to feel that same creative intensity in my pre or post natal state.
There is truly nothing more bewildering or life altering than giving birth to a baby. Funny how I had thought holding shoulder stand for 12 minutes was absolutely impossible. Now yoga seems so breezy, if only I could find my muscles again! The pain of child birth was not a surprise, but the intensity and the extended duration (52 hours of labor) was beyond anything I could have ever imagined. Amongst other things, I remember saying to my husband in the midst of contractions, “If I get through this, I can fucking do anything!”. Giving birth to Xavier helped me touch into my inner fire and gave me a sense of power, and confidence for whatever I wanted to pursue. While pregnant I had written and self recorded a number of songs. I had felt a certain sense of urgency as well as the boon of creativity! But I hadn’t perfected the songs yet, nor had I mixed them. After Xavier’s birth, I dedicated each of his nap times to mixing, editing and crafting the songs I had recorded the previous 9 (plus!) months. I then contacted a professional studio to mix and master the songs so I could release them one by one as singles on itunes. This was such an incredible feeling, to record myself, to edit, produce, to be my own studio and then to be able to release these songs to the world. One of the tunes even got some play on CBC radio.
For me, child birth was not just about harnessing power though. Witnessing Xavier as a new born — a naked soul — gave me such a deep belief in humanity and in the purity of heart that we all have when we come into this world. Recovering from the exhaustion of labor, the hormonal shifts, the struggles with breast feeding, the lack of sleep and mobility all opened me up to my most vulnerable place, but I feel it also allowed me to see and experience my precious babe — so dependent and yet so connected to subtle vibrations, sounds and love — on a much more profound and transparent level. With such intense internal and external shiftings, I understand how, although unanticipated, music was a necessary release valve for my health and safety, as well as those around me!
This is probably why when I was given an ergo baby carrier a month after giving birth, and all of a sudden I had hands and arms again, the first thing I did was pick up my guitar! Straight away, while looking down at my one month old son, out flowed a melody which later turned into the title track of my new EP, “Everything to Me”. Of course he woke up pretty quickly, but the crux of the song was born in that moment. Now I sing that song as more of a universal love song, and the lyrics and tempo have gone through various stages and forms, but the nugget goes straight back to a mother’s pure love for her son.
Having a child may have decreased some of my solo time and navel gazing, but it has given me focus. When he naps, or now when he is in daycare I feel each moment has a purpose. I suppose I feel that if I am going to be away from him, I want to make it really count, for me and for him. The away time feels really healthy for both of us, but it also feels more poignant, everything matters more. In some strange way, being a mother has helped me live more fully. I feel inspired to live out my dream of being a musician for myself, but also for my son. I want him to see and feel that his mother has the confidence and life force to follow through with her aspirations. Before I had Xavier I didn’t have the same drive or urgency to follow my path. I added so many other tangents and detours along my winding way. I know it seems paradoxical, but having a child truly helped me re-commit and find a truer more direct path. I am also aware that if I force myself to fit into a preformed identity: “role of mother”, rather than follow my heart’s version of motherhood, I would be heading down a route of long term resentment that would not serve either of us.
It is strange to write this, because I realize the inherent conundrum within the life of artists and mother, or for that matter motherhood and any career a woman feels passionate about. There is such an intense magnetism, pulling you toward your child, you have never cared for anything more than this (or these) beings. However, if the career is also something born of passion and heart, it too has a draw that at times can be just as significant and pure and full of vision. Mixing these two is so frightening and chaotic and wild, but it is also, at least for me, the only road. In fact, a year in between Xavier’s birth and recording my latest EP, I took a break from music. Music seemed too uncertain and unpredictable (true enough!), and I went back to study to be a Unitarian minister at McGill University. I thought this would satisfy my drive to connect with people, to write and to delve into spiritual realms while at the same time having a more regular salary and hours. In addition to this rational thinking, it was also Xavier’s birth that inspired me to pursue the ministry, specifically inter-faith hospital chaplaincy. I gave birth in the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, and was so moved by the experience — the way immense numbers of patients from every demographic, and every culture were cared for democratically and somehow systematically — I began looking into what it would take to become a hospital chaplain. I found the program at McGill and plunged in. What I didn’t foresee was all the soul searching, the journalling, the introspection that happens in seminary and the studies of the bible. After about a half a year, music was calling me home, and this time I couldn’t say no. Somehow having Xavier in my life made me want to commit more fully to a path, and ironically it was the act of completely devoting myself to the study of the ministry which brought me full-circle, back to my real love: music.