I got to interview Amanda Palmer last week.
Like the Amanda Palmer, whose music I’ve loved for years. Whose songs make me laugh, cry, sing along, and feel like a badass usually all at once. The Amanda Palmer whose book–The Art of Asking— I buy for my girlfriends when they’re having a tough time. The Amanda Palmer whose married to the Neil Gaiman…
It was amazing. And unexpected. And kind of perfect. And rather spontaneous, as these things go.
The interview confirmation came through while I was on the way to the airport to pick up my husband. I’d been solo parenting for 4 days, I was worn out from lack of sleep and battling Portland traffic, my kids were screaming in the back of the car, and then Amanda Palmer’s assistant emailed me: “How about tonight? In 2 hours?” Nearly crashing my car into the airport parking garage, I replied: “YES!”
How could I not?
So, while the boys danced around after dinner that night, I picked up the phone, and casually called Amanda Palmer like it was no big deal.
It was totally a big deal.
And it was a great call. We talked a lot about her new song, “A Mother’s Confession” and people’s reaction to it, which you can check out over at Parents.com, but my editor had to to cut some of the Q & A for space, so I’m printing the full interview here.
Long story short, AMFP is kicking ass at motherhood. Her baby (Ash) is 5 months old and AP’s still making art (she hinted at a new song about death called “Machete” coming out on her Patreon this week!), and although motherhood’s changed her, we can all still expect a whole out of the same fierce songwriting, music making, Amanda Palmering as before.
What does parenting look like logistically for you and Neil, since you’re both so busy?
For the first three months of Ash’s life, we didn’t do much. I stayed with him and took him everywhere I went. I felt very strongly about creating a fence around my birth and those early months, which are such a sacred, important time to be able to do nothing and bond. In those months, I was really excited to put my work down and just be a mom. My plan was to be a full time mom until I decided I needed help. This seemed like a more organic approach parenting then setting everything up in advance. When Ash was about 3.5 months old, I was craving getting back into the studio, and Neil was starting to feel overwhelmed with being my tag team partner. We both knew it was time to get a sitter. We don’t have a full-time nanny, but we have hired a local sitter who’s at home with us and the baby while we work.
How is it going balancing work and motherhood?
The thing you want most as a parent is to never feel conflicted between your job and your child’s need. And that’s tricky since you never know what your child is going to need or what you’re going to need. I’m lucky because I have a job that lets me have a flexible schedule. What I love about my Patreon, as opposed to being on a record label, is that I can conceive a song or project in my own time. Since I have a subscribership, I can shelve it, put it out tomorrow, and as a working musician and mother it’s a godsend that I don’t have to commit to anything ever.
Is parenthood harder than you expected?
That’s a hard question to answer because I had no expectations—good or bad—about it. I figured I’d be doing myself and my kid a disservice if I went into it with any expectations—either of all love and rainbows or that it would be hell. So, I worked hard not to expect anything. I didn’t buy baby books or go on the internet, and, although I had almost no exposure to babies, I figured I’d allow my instincts to kick in and I’d listen to the wisest voices in my environment.
The steepest learning curve for me was following the new organization of my mother-brain. It’s very disorienting, and I felt a bit like I’d been dropped on another planet without a map. Yes, I had instincts—but it was a challenge to have my parent and non-parent sides living together in my mind. Figuring out the new relationships with my child, with my partner, and myself were the hardest parts for me.
“A Mother’s Confession” is your first song about being a parent—were you surprised to write it?
I’ve always been a confessional song writer, it’s what I do. So, it didn’t surprise me that that was the song that wanted to come out. I never have any giant strategy for my career, or my songwriting in general. But if you take the ingredients of Amanda Palmer, it’s not a huge leap of imagination that something confessional about motherhood would come out. I’m at most interesting when I’m at my most vulnerable and confessional, but there were some lines that were hard to write.
That said, the song has given birth to such a wonderful and growing bunch of parent confessionals I’m glad I did it.
Stating our fears, mistakes, and anxieties can be a really wonderful way of communing with one another. I love that the internet, which can be so dark, can also be such a light and wonderful place.
What does the future hold for you and your family?
I have no idea, but I approach parenting like art making— plans are you enemy. It’s better when you react and listen, and I’ve spent my life getting really good at improvisation, so I feel like I can improvise life. I don’t think parenting is going to be any different.
Any other thoughts?
We can’t control anything anyway, so do what you can do that you love in the moments you have. Do your best, constantly forgive yourself, and go on your merry way.
Click here to listen to “A Mother’s Confession,” read the lyrics and footnotes, and share your own parenting confessions and stories in the comments.