So it was going to happen at some point – a couple of years ago my two worlds (or maybe I should say two of my worlds) collided in public view!
I’m a singer as well as a mum and a radio presenter and my band had a gig. My son is usually in bed when I have gigs and mostly I arrive late for sound check having done make-up in the car on the way, squeezed into some ridiculously high heels, and hope that none of the audience would guess that less than an hour before I was singing The Wheels on the Bus and bargaining with my son to get out of the bath!
But on this occasion the gig was in the late afternoon and on the beautiful South Bank which I love both the vibe and view of. So with toddler in tow I thought it would be nice for him to see mummy sing. I’d assumed/hoped he’d dance along while we performed like he mostly did when we rehearsed. But, I should have remembered the rule – if you plan your day and especially for your little one to do something in particular they will of course sense it and do the complete opposite.
It had already been a crazy journey on the train there with said toddler landing his plane on various strangers’ heads while mummy attempted to apply make-up in order to make illusion/transformation from mum to professional singer. I’d already forgotten my proper make-up and all I could find was ‘Hello Kitty’ make-up – yes really – Hello Kitty make-up at a professional gig.
We arrived early and my son consumed an entire posh cup cake, ice cream and falafel in 15 minutes flat and all seemed to be going to plan. Then it was our turn to perform and I placed him with a friend and went to the stage, informing a friend casually over my shoulder, as I quickened my step: “He’ll be fine, he’ll start dancing once the music starts.” But no. How silly of me to think the juggling balls could stay in the air and impress/convince the general public that I was the ultimate literal all-singing-all-dancing-modern-mum.
My son instantly decided to have a meltdown, screaming: “I want to sing on stage with you mummy!” And I knew it was one of those that could not be bargained away – besides I’d used up all my trump cards with cupcake and ice-cream already administered.
So the only option was to relent to bear-cub’s request and I performed a 40-minute set with my band holding my two-year-old’s hand on stage throughout. To say I was slightly distracted during the show would be an understatement and at points I wondered if I was even singing in tune let alone singing the right words. My little boy, however, was in his element twisting and gyrating like a mini Justin (Timberlake, not Bieber or Fletcher) and we just about pulled it off.
What was interesting was seeing people’s reactions when they gathered round the stage to listen to us and spotted a pint-sized member of the group. Some would laugh and point, some would push their kids to the front for a dance and some would frown. My friend in the audience afterwards told me how she overheard one mum tut and comment to her husband how awful it was that I was ‘making’ my child stand on stage with me during a gig, This mummy was either jealous, has a child who willingly complies to her every wish or simply has no sympathy for single parents who are still trying to live their dreams and still be a great mum.
You see, everything is a balancing act when you’re a parent, let alone a single one. But in truth we all have things in life that we allow to be excuses that hold us back from dreaming our dreams and fulfilling our destinies. Sometimes I wonder if all the stress and struggle is worth it but, it’s important for us to each find our own identity, pursue our own dreams and fulfil our own calling no matter what the challenges may be – and make sure they don’t get swallowed up in the business and busy-ness of life.
This occasion was a wake-up call and I often think back to it to remind myself: this collision of two worlds, rather than being a disaster of global proportions, was merely unexpected fireworks that made some beautiful colours in my view – at least that’s what I’m telling myself.
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