Sometimes people ask me how I juggle being on stage, traveling, raising my little girl, attempting to be happily married and the other responsibilities I have on my plate. I remind them of what it looks like for a 6-year-old to attempt a juggling routine. Wide, crazy eyes as they fearfully throw the balls up- then in a moment of 6-year-old brilliance- they close their eyes and hope for the best.
I pretty much emulate that approach. Let’s just say I drop a lot of balls. One such moment that I will never forget happened while recording the new album, The Becoming.
I drove to Nashville with my barely 3-year-old in tow to record with producer Paul Moak at Smoakstack Studios in Nashville, TN. Since Texas was my home at the time, my childcare options were limited. Most days my daughter, Annie, came to the studio with me and a friend came out and watched her. But there were times when she was busy and I flew solo.
This particular day it was just Annie and I. Most of the morning I recorded the song Heaven Waits for Me with Annie glued to the side of my hip, bobbing her whole body along and whispering “that’s me!!!!!” in her loudest-hardly-a-whisper voice when we reached the chorus.
While this was an unquestionably cute moment for all involved, I couldn’t get my work done. She had already used up her attention span for watching Dora movies and was not interested in playing with the blocks or colors I brought to the studio. She just wanted me. I obliged as long as possible, irritated, but trying to make it work. And then I hit my wall. I decided I had to leave her in the front lounge so I could knock out the vocal pass and be done. I was going insane. I left the vocal booth and picked the first intern I saw.
Red-headed, 22-year-old Max.
“Annie, Mr. Max is going to watch you so I can finish singing and we can go home for the day.”
I turned to Max.
“She can go the bathroom by herself if she needs to- just try to entertain her for like 10 minutes. As long as she’s not bleeding- she’s fine- don’t come get me.”
Because that’s what every good mom says.
He looked at me with total assurance.
I turned to Annie, exasperated, “Annie- unless you are bleeding, do not come get Mommy. Do you understand? Unless there is an alien or blood coming out of your body- I have to get my work done- and you will just have to figure it out by yourself.”
With that I ran back to the recording room and left her with Max the intern. In fifteen short minutes I knocked out the vocal take and was ready to end the work day. I went to the living room area of the studio where I had left Annie and the intern.
He looked at me, “She did great. She’s in the bathroom.”
“Oh good,” I said, relieved that she was fine and that I was able to get my work done with out the 3-year-old appendage stuck to my hip.
“How long has she been in there?”
Max the intern looked at me. “Um- about 10 minutes.”
10 MINUTES?!? My mind went crazy. She’s barely 3-years-old. She could straight up be through the drain pipe and half-way down the Mississippi river by now. Didn’t Max the intern watch Finding freaking Nemo?!?! Did it not occur to him that a barely 3-year-old didn’t even remember to wipe yet? That their bathroom trips are like mini world records, taken as quickly as possible so as not to miss whatever current randomness they are so importantly focused on doing in another room? 3-year-olds pee fast.
I ran to the bathroom, knocked and threw open the door.
There she stood. Wide-eyed, tears rolling down her face, lip quivering and covered in poop.
Poop on her legs. Poop on her hands. Poop on the floor. Poop in all types of odd places on the toilet seat. And somehow, poop on the door of a cabinet.
Immediately, I realized there was no toilet paper.
And in an effort to be a big girl and “obey me” she had tried getting off the toilet to find some, only to get tangled up in her Dora undies, leaving a trail of poop everywhere she went.
“Oh sweetie, it’s ok. Are you ok? I am soooo sorry baby,” I said to her wracked with guilt.
She looked up at me with her big, beautiful, generous blue eyes and said,
“I’m sorry mommy, but I wasn’t bleeding.”
AAAAGGGGHHHH. My mom-heart broke into a million pieces. I wasn’t bleeding?!?! That’s the most neglected statement I’ve ever heard!
I cleaned her up and we went immediately for cupcakes.
She’s totally gonna end up in therapy. And when she does I will have to confess to her that there was this one time... I forbade her to come to me unless there were aliens or blood trails and how she ended up rummaging for toilet paper with poop smearing all over the place in a recording studio in Nashville.
Somtimes we are all just throwing the balls up in the air, trying to juggle, closing our eyes and hoping for the best.
Sometimes we get the best.
And sometimes we get poop.