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31Things | Day Seven: Work

I often find it difficult to talk about my work. I think that's because I don't have a "normal" job. I don't have an office or a 9-to-5 schedule or a boss or even a paycheck. I am a professional horn player without a regular gig, and I am a stay-at-home mom. Both jobs well outside the confines of what society considers "real work." When I have to tell people what I do, I always vaguely feel like I am apologizing for something - even though I take my work very seriously.

Conn 8D French horn

As a horn player, my primary responsibility is to practice. Currently I practice about 2 hours a day at home, and am working my way up to three. I work fundamentals - range, flexibility, scales, arpeggios - and special techniques - multiple tonguing, stopped horn, lip trills. I work on etudes to build technical skills and endurance. I work on orchestral repertoire as the bread-and-butter of my future employment. And I work on solo repertoire, because it's fun.

In spite of not having full-time employment in a professional orchestra (which is my eventual goal), I keep my schedule full. I take as many paying gigs as I can get (mostly for church services), and I volunteer in five community orchestras. The latter has been especially valuable for learning the standard orchestral repertoire. You can study all you like, but for some things there's just no substitute for the real experience.

For the most part, I have to set my own schedule. I have one practice session in the morning, and another in the early afternoon. Orchestra rehearsals are in the evenings, after dinner; concerts are in the evenings or Sunday afternoons. My horn choir meets Saturday mornings. Church gigs usually rehearse Wednesday night and perform Sunday morning. So I stay busy. Luckily this schedule works very well in tandem with Chris' more traditional work schedule, so that one of us is always available to take care of the kids.

laundryI try to get most, if not all, of my practicing done before Hannah gets home from school at 3:30pm. After that it's time for me to switch into "mom mode": getting snacks, supervising homework and piano practice, chauffering to dance class, starting dinner. I do love being a stay-at-home mom but my least favorite part is all the housework: the laundry, the dishes, the decluttering, etc because once done it doesn't stay done. It drives me crazy that each day the same chores have to be done all over again. But I love that I am here after school when the kids get home; I get to hear about their days and help them transition to their afternoon activities. I am here with them. I am here for them.

For a while, I tried to build a career in the scrapbooking industry. It didn't go well, and I ultimately decided that I was better off keeping scrapbooking as just a hobby. I am much happier this way.

There are some aspects of more traditional jobs that I wish I had: most of all, I wish I had a paycheck. I wish I could earn enough to help pay off our credit card debt, pay for fun stuff like vacations (and scrapbook supplies!), help save for the future. Sometimes I think it would be nice to have a set schedule; sometimes the freedom is a little too free and it is hard to have the self-discipline to get things done.

But in the end, I wouldn't trade what I do for anything. I love playing music and I love my kids. They make me happy. And that is the best "job benefit" of all.

A clean house is a sign of a wasted life.

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