On January 4, 2018, I posted a question here about composers and motherhood, to see if there are any composers I know who are also mothers, and who’ve managed to keep their careers moving while raising a child or more. The amount of responses I got was so incredibly overwhelming, and so insightful. The number of success stories was awe-inspiring to say the least.
What I hadn’t revealed at the time was that I was a few months pregnant, and terrified.
I’ve always wanted to become a mother, yet somehow, now that I was really pregnant, I got this chill down my spine that I’m going to have to kiss my composing career goodbye. This was particularly scary for me because I hadn’t ‘made it’ yet (whatever ‘making it’ really means!). I was, in fact, in the middle of a good momentum in my career and taking time off would’ve been the biggest mistake and setback. So naturally, I had to reach out, and I’m so glad I did.
I want to send a HUGE THANK YOU and a BIG HUG to every single mother (and father) composer here in this wonderful community who took the time to share insight, tips, success stories, and even recommend books. I am in no way exaggerating when I say that it is because of every single one of you that not only did I become less nervous about having a baby, but rather became determined to make the pregnancy and post pregnancy pass as smoothly as possible career-wise.
You’d be surprised (or maybe not) to know that because of these uplifting and empowering stories you shared, I became fearless. I started applying to everything, traveling everywhere that I can, and making sure that I pursue every dream I had. I can also honestly say that the past year and a half has been the highlight of my music career, thanks to your advice. This is not to say that there weren’t any challenges and days where I was extremely exhausted and low on sleep, but if anything, having a baby taught me how to use my time more wisely and be more efficient.
My son, Nabil Amadeus (Nabil means of noble character in Arabic, and Amadeus is, well, Mozart and ‘God’s Love’ in Latin), has traveled with me on planes and trains since the age of three months. He’s been on 16 aircrafts before hitting the age of one. I realized, thanks to all the advice given, that he can join me on my journey and that he will love it and be enriched because of it. I also learned that it’s OK to travel without him sometimes, and that this way I can come back to him with renewed love. The book that was recommended to me here, ‘Bringing Up Bébé’, became my child-raising bible, and still is. It is life changing to say the least.
During my pregnancy and after it, I was able to attend four film festivals (TIFF twice, Hot Docs, and the Beverly Hills Film Festival), traveled to Europe and the US many times for music performances of my compositions, was commissioned to compose more than 30 minutes of orchestral music, scored a good number of shorts, a mini series, and two features, won a big grant to produce an album, won two awards, got nominated for an HMMA (saw the nomination while at the hospital!), attended film scoring workshops at the Krakow Film Music Festival and SESAC with Christophe Beck, and was selected for a highly competitive nine-month film scoring residency at the Canadian Film Centre which started when my son was only two weeks old-and I completed it when he was nine months old!
The reason I mention these achievements is to show how sharing experiences can change lives. My life as a mother is exactly what I dreamt of it to be thanks to the powerhouse mother composers in this group whose genuine advice and whose own tremendous achievements really allowed me to see a different way of mothering that suits our lives as professional composers, without feeling any guilt for doing what I love. I came to understand that happy mom equals a happy child and I can see this in my son. And then I remembered that my own mother was a working pharmacist who raised five children while doing what she loved to do.
I am linking the original post below because the amount of advice given there by wonderful composers such as Penka D Kouneva, Lolita Ritmanis, Pinar Toprak, Miriam Mayer, and Christy Carew Marshall, to name a few, cannot be surpassed no matter what I write. To every composer who wants to become a mother: It’s doable with the right amount of planning, the right amount of support, and most importantly, the right amount of determination and positivity. Just read through the comments on that original post and you’ll know what I mean.
Feel free to reach out to me here in a comment or in a private message if you have more questions. I’d be more than happy to jump in on a call and help, and that would be me paying it forward.
As women who want to become mothers, we should never have to choose between our life’s passion for music making and our desire to raise a human being. Thank you once again from the bottom of my heart for your life-changing help and advice. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without each and every one of you!