Luxuries of the Wealthy

Would you believe I've written five blogs this week but I haven't posted them? I have.

But then I can't decide what to say first. One feels too structured while the other feels too whimsy and then something else exciting or nominally interesting happens and I dabble with that a bit and before I know it...

I have said so much, but I have said nothing.


I wore sweat pants on stage during the last song of the night in Phoenix, and it felt completely liberating.

This is how I came to wear the sweat pants:

A typical day goes something like this. I wake up in a new city. Annie is in the back lounge saying, "MooooMEEEEEE." "DaDEEEEEEE." "WuBEEEEEE"  (The name of her pacifier that has saved our lives on more than one occasion. I can hear her in the baby monitor which is rigged in my bunk bed with an extension cord. I get out of my bunk bed. I sleep on the bottom right, next to her "bedroom door,"  across the aisle from Ryan.  I go to her room. She is standing up in her Baby Bjorn Travel Lite Crib.  Also a lifesaver for any parent who is traveling and needs a portable, light, functional bed that they can literally assemble with their pinkie, in the dark. Good enough sales pitch?

I play with Annie in the back lounge of the tour bus. Get her dressed to face the day and then turn on Nick Jr.

Toot and Puddle.

My favorite.

We have a normal day in whatever city we are in. New words. New facial expressions. New moments of rebellion. And then fast forward to the night and that's when Lauren the nanny takes over. She feeds her dinner while I get dressed and ready for stage. She brings her to watch mommy and daddy and if you are listening for it, and there is a quiet moment on stage, you can hear Annie squeal,"MOMEEEEE, DADEEEEE."

I'm trying to act like a rock star, but it's so dang cute I just want to bring her on stage and squish her little cheeks and ask her about her animal noises. So she watches the show sometimes. But sometimes she doesn't care; she just wants to run around and play. Lauren chases her through the lobby and lets her play with any children who are not scared off by the fact that Annie is obviously a Spaniard. She greets everyone with a kiss.

After I get off stage I bring her to the bus and get her ready for bed. PJ's. Good night books. And snugly blankets. I have to take off my stage jewelry and usually a few layers of clothes so that she can lay on my chest while I play with her hair and scratch her little back. This is when I pull the sweat pants out.  You can't make a kid go to sleep if you are faking it. So I put my sweats on under my stage dress. Ryan is with us. He gets her bed ready and he covers us up, kisses Annie, turns on the music, turns out the lights and then leaves us alone for my favorite moment of the day.

There are only so many days that my baby will fall asleep on my chest and I will feel her body rise and fall against mine. Her breath on my neck and her hand holding mine.

I will not give those days away.

I fall asleep first. Then Annie. Then I start drooling on her head. Serious drool that makes her hair sticky and nappy. "Yea, I have no idea what's wrong with her hair," I lie to anyone the next day who mentions the weird texture of her bangs.

An hour later Ryan comes to the back of the bus and wakes me up. He startles me because I'm dreaming and drooling all over our daughter. He tells me that Tenth Avenue North has started their encore. I get to sing R&B licks on their last song while the rest of the band members dance around with strange instruments and a cut out poster of John McCain. I put Annie in her bed and I try and wipe the drool off myself and reapply some make-up so that I am presentable again on stage. It's always a weird feeling being up there because I feel like I have been sleeping forever and I know there are crease marks on my face and I stumble on stage in a drunken sleep stooper with blurry eyes and wiggly knees. Usually I'm back in my dress... but this one night I just couldn't bring myself to lose the sweats.

There were years when wearing sweats on stage would've happened without a second thought. But I wonder, lately, if I would be more successful if I wasn't so homespun? And this career question briefly plagued my mind before I took the stage in Phoenix with my three-sizes-too-big sweats that I refused to take off. If I weren't a "good ole' girl" maybe I'd get bigger and better show opportunities, maybe the music world would take me more seriously, maybe we'd sell more albums because I look like a rock star and not some girl who wears sweats on stage for the encore.... under her frilly dress.

I put those voices aside. I'm trying to live a life not ruled by the voices. I really am. And those sweatpants felt so amazing.

A college kid came up afterwords and said, "I'm only buying your CD cuz you came back out wit sweats on."

Sealed the deal. Stilettos and crazy outfits are so overrated.


Annie is with my mom this weekend. We had three days off this past week and I spent them in Albuquerque with my parents because, as my dad said, "You're freaking mom is driving me crazy. She's a ball of depression saying she never sees her grand baby and her heart is breaking and Jenny I'm glad you're coming, cause I'm getting close to havin' to kill that woman."

(If you are new to our blog or my family, please note: My dad will not actually kill my mom. Even though he discusses her insurance policy and she talks about how rich she will be if he kicks the bucket and we all discuss the death of one another and debate over who will have the most fun funeral and how we will sell each others organs on the black market... it is sick family humor. Usually spoken with a country accent like we are long lost members of the Apple Dumpling Gang- or whoever that was. Nothing more than sick family humor. I promise.)

So I'm in Albuquerque and Annie goes from being mildly sick to wildly sick. She had already been running fever for a week (due to what I thought were four molars coming in), but this was more like a small furnace burning through her  teeny-tiny, nineteen pound body. She was waking up every hour through the night, choking on her spit, hitting her head in frustration because everything hurt so bad.  You would find her in bed saying "ouwie" and "yucky" as she coughed up wads of snot and other free-floating baby debris.

It was heart wrenching.

And then Thursday morning came and I had to decide: put 103.7 degree Annie on a plane and then, on a bus with nasty re-circulated air, thirteen other people, twelve days of travel, and ten shows. A daunting task for even her mom. Or leave her. With grandma. Grandpa. A crib. A backyard. A house with more toys in it than she has back home. Real food. A real bathtub. And a place where she could get well.

I know it was best for her and I am working on this mom-guilt- thing, I promise, but I really did feel like I sold her to gypsies.

I left my sick baby and it will be ten days before I see her again.

And now, here I am in Vallejo California today at Six Flags Magic Kingdom about to ride roller coasters and have funnel cakes and I feel bi-polar. One minute I miss her and wish she were here to see the dolphins and I feel sick that I just had to up and leave my little baby girl. I am convinced she has abandonment issues and I can almost cry if I think about it too long. But then, the next minute I am saying little prayers of joyful thanksgiving that I get to ride roller coasters.

Without her.

(So, to the sweet family in Canada who asked whether Annie would be at the upcoming Seattle show...unless I find $700 to fly her up to be with me... no, she will not be there to meet your mom and I am so sorry! I truly am, I am quite sure she would love your mom!)


We're on the road with Matt Maher (he wrote the song Your Grace is Enough and a dozen other amazing worship songs that you probably love). He is not only a gifted musician, but he's a kind man whose depth draws people in. He's a brilliant theologian as well. OH! He's also a newlywed. He and Kristen were married two weeks before the tour started, and twelve days into their marriage they jumped on a bus with eleven other people and started traveling the country. I love that Kristen has been up for the challenge. She breathes life into people with her confidence and kindness (and her distinct love for Disney movies which are almost always playing on the bus now).

Back to Matt. I was lamenting having to leave Annie at the last minute because she was so sick and how it made me feel horrible to leave her and that's when he said, "Jen, I don't want to minimize that fact that you had to leave Annie. I know it sucks to leave your sick baby... but remember, we are talking problems of the privileged. Luxuries of the wealthy."

I hate it when he starts talking smart like that.

This is a conversation we have had numerous times over the past few weeks.

Luxurious problems of the wealthy.

Often- my problems are mere complications- luxuries of the wealthy. There are moms around the world who leave their children with family in order to work in other countries, on cruise ships, at hotels, in factories... just to make money to send home to their babies who they do not get to see because they are working to make it possible for them to eat, sleep, get immunizations, and go to school. There are moms who did not ask to be weapons of war, who did not ask to walk away with AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. But there they are, lining the free hospitals in war-torn Africa, suffering from diseases they never asked for. And their babies are being raised by someone else. Hopefully. There are moms who don't ask to end up as single moms whether because of early death or divorce or a husband ending up in prison or being sent out on their second, third, fourth deployment... yet there they are, working two jobs, handing the kids off to the grandparents or the daycare, making money so their kids can be kids.

And then there's me. Handing my child off to the best grandparents in the world (who would raise the girl if I'd let them) so I can go on the road and travel to amazing places to do a "job" that I love and fulfill a calling that is deep within my soul. I have my husband by my side and I have the most amazing "co-workers" you could ask for. Today I'm at Six Flags in California. Tomorrow I will be on a beautiful coast in California playing in a historic theatre. Next week? Seattle. Then Portland. Then Klammath Falls and a day trip to hike through a series of waterfalls. And in ten days, I get her back. Healthy. And rested.

I don't want to minimize your problems... or mine...

But I really like having someone around to remind me that, yes, it hurts to leave your crying baby. It should hurt. That means you're a good mom. Likewise, it hurts to struggle through the decision between public or private school? Private college or community college?  A car with good gas mileage or more airbags? This pediatrician or that one? Even decisions about life saving surgery, procedures, or what hospice care to go with...

These are luxuries of the wealthy.

Does it make it hurt any less? Does it mean our problems mean nothing?

No. Absolutely not.

But it puts it in perspective for me this morning to know that while I miss my baby girl... I made the decision to leave her. I chose what was best for her. I have confidence that for ten days she is loved and happy.

I made the choice.

And the truth is... some moms don't get a choice. A lot of moms don't get a choice.

So today I am grateful and humbled by the fact that my problems, as Matt Maher says, are luxuries of the wealthy.