My Secret Life
A few weeks ago I sang an opera aria (Vissi d’Arte from Tosca) at a funeral. After the service, one of my neighbors came up to me and said, “Who knew that the woman who runs up the hill to the bus stop in her pajamas every morning could sing like that!” After I overcame my initial embarrassment (I like to pretend that nobody can actually see me in myred polar bear jammies–it’s usually dark, after all), we laughed together about our meetings. It seems that every time she sees me I am covered in paint because I am doing home improvement projects, in dirt because we’ve been working in the yard, or, most often, in my pajamas. Because I am running to the bus stop with my daughters at what feels like the crack of dawn.
I have never once mentioned to this neighbor that I am an opera singer, so her surprise was understandable. Because, mostly, I don’t think of myself that way. I am a mom who happens to sing, not a singer who happens to have children.
I am an incredibly normal mom who deals with all the same things every other mom deals with: Temper tantrums (my own as well as the children’s), messy rooms, dirty dishes, piles and piles (and piles) of laundry, stacks of bills (but not stacks of money), grocery shopping with all three children in tow, to-do lists that are a mile long, and more. While you might find me singing as I do the dishes or vacuum, I’m usually not thinking about whatever aria is sitting on my piano waiting to be learned. In fact, I’m highly embarrassed about all of the time I didn’t put in to practicing for this latest opera, which included some of the most difficult ensemble music I’ve ever sung.
The other day, while I was running errands with Sophia I wasn’t wearing any make-up (sorry, Mom), had barely combed my hair, and had on old jeans and a faded t-shirt. The clerk punched in my phone number for the rewards card, verified my name and then looked at me and said, “Oh! I saw you sing opera in a concert last year! It was amazing. You have a really amazing talent.” And just like at the funeral, I had to recover a little bit from my embarrassment–not because I was wearing my pj’s, but because I forgot. I was just your average, run-of-the-mill mom, out buying favors and decorations for her soon-to-be-five-year-old’s birthday party. I certainly didn’t feel like someone with a “really amazing talent” and I most definitely didn’t look it.
It feels kind of like a secret life, even to myself. Of course my closest friends know. But it just doesn’t come up in regular conversation with most of the people I interact with. Because children are the thing I have in common with most people, and it’s what we talk about. It’s what all moms want to talk about. And while it’s really fabulous to be up on the stage in front of an audience, it’s much more satisfying to make sure my home is a haven for my three children, who are my greatest gift in life. As exciting as applause is, it’s so much better to see my girls be excited about their personal triumphs. And, thrilling as it is that my picture was in yesterday’s paper, I’m so much more thrilled when one of the girls draws a picture of me. My children bring me a lasting joy that you can’t quite put a price on.
And so I go about my life as a mother, and occasionally I am reminded that, oh yeah, I sing pretty well, too.
I’m sure I’m not the only one with a secret life. In fact, I’m pretty sure we all have one. What’s yours?
Love it Lara!! thanks for sharing. i wonder what my secret life is? i will have to think about that one…
I feel like that.
I have cards where women have said so many nice things about me, I even have one from a grandma who said that I had saved her daugther and her grandaughters life and that when she saw them she would always remember me (I was moderately heroic that day). I sometimes have women come up and hug me at the grocery store.
But it's SO removed from what I do here. It's not like they cross at all.
It is weird.
Wish you were online right now….
Better get some baby in bed.
Your secret life is secretly what I WISH I could do so bad. I've always wanted to be able to sing but just wasn't given the gift. In the next life for sure!
I had someone ask me the other day what I did. Did I just stay at home? Did I have a job? Of course, my first answer was that I most happily stayed at home with my children. But then, nervously so, I said, "And I write books."
It's a little thrilling to be able to say that, but I don't very often. My close friends and my blog friends know my book is getting published, but it's not like I wear a sign or anything… most people don't know. It doesn't really come up in casual "grocery store line" conversation, know what I mean?
I hope that one day, someday, I get to hear you sing in person.:)
I don't have a secret life…unless it's my blog. Most people who know me in person don't know I have one:)
In a previous life I was a social worker. In my "secret life" I play the piano, but I think in Utah culture that kind of stuff is less secret because well, if you sing or play the piano you get to display your talents OFTEN and many people you interact with are also your church associates….interesting cultural difference I wouldn't have thought of before this post….
Most people know me as a mom and a violin teacher. With four littles and being in a small town, I don't do a lot of performing. What's funny is the shock when people find out that I've been a doula- it's a bit of an unusual "side job."
I had to laugh when I got married I did the hula. Some of My family member did even know that I could.
Last week someone saw a vidio of me doing hulu and asked " hey are you the girl that does hulu?" It was nice to say yes and to be called a girl. (hehe)
What a sweet post, Lara! I have heard you sing (on your blog of course) and am blown away by it. It is interesting all the little pieces that make up the whole of us, don't you think. Some are so surprising to others, but to you, they are just regular.
I honestly don't think I have a secret life. I am as you see me. I often wish I did. 🙂 But my life is pretty great as it is.
Doesn't your neighbor know that those pajamas are supposed to be invisible?!?!?!
Thanks for posting. I love many of the things I do in my life, but none nearly as much as being "Papa" (my 3 yr old thinks that's my real name) to four amazing kids, so this post really strikes a chord with me.
Thanks for posting 🙂
What I like most about you is your amazing ability to balance your core values, like being a wife and mother, with your own pursuits, like using your incredible talents. ANd you humbly admit to your talents. That is the coolest.
I have 2 secret lives. 1. Is teaching water aerobics and swimming lessons. 2. Is working for the school district with at risk teens. What makes it secret is that the people from the 1. don't know about 2. So when they see me in other situations they are totally confused. Makes me laugh! But really I am a mom first and foremost!!
I really enjoyed reading this post! I have a couple things: Not many real-life people know I have a blog(s). Second, lots of people know I play the piano but several are surprised when I tell them I get the wonderful opportunity to play once a month in the lobby of the Joseph Smith Memorial Bldg. Or occasionally, there are people that I know who are visiting the JSMB and they run into me while I'm playing the piano. It throws them off, it is fun 🙂
That is great humility. Wouldn't it be an interesting experience if we recognized each other's talents? So, the clerk at the store would say, "Oh Audrey, you are a super great listener! I remember that." I wonder if it would change our behavior if we felt more accountability for these talents that we are given? It is truly a great thing to be a mom too and a great opportunity for growth as well.
Unfortunately, the musical side of me has gone to waste as the "mommy" thing has taken over. I've been miserable without my music. That is about to change, as when school starts in a month, regardless of "whether or not we will be here still", I am going to bring back that talent. I'm either going to volunteer to teach choir at my girls' school, or voluntter to accompany my son's school's choir, or take voice lessons or teach piano lessons. Something–I spent my whole life building a talent that I never use right now, how depressing is that? So, I'm looking forward to building it once more. It's nice that you never left your talent, I regret not having used you as a voice teacher more when I had the chance! –Amanda B.
I loved this post Lara! And yes, you are a Mom and yes, you are an amazing Opera singer! The red pajamas I cannot verify. My secret life is slightly similar. Singing talent. I can act too. But, I am busy Mommying. I think it's great that you stay connected to your talents. I need to be too, but it's not realistic just yet.
Undercover opera singer, I like the sound of that (just wish I had a voice to match yours!!).
Hope you're having a lovely summer, Lara!
My secret life? I am an artist both on canvas and stage, though I havent's practiced on canvas in years. I sing in an accapella women's four part harmony choir where with the exception of my daughter, I am the youngest person there by at least 25 years. I also act with our community theatre and once had the opportunity to go with my college instructor to New York because she thought I had a great talent. However, I was pregnant with my first daughter and began the greatest and most demanding role of my life. Mostly now I perform as "Mom" in the production at our house titled "Parenthood or The Ever After That Happens After You Harbor A Parasitic Organism For Nine Months." I'm also a caseworker, which is normally where people know me from. Well, that and that I have five kids.
How fun to have a secret life you can enjoy and look upon fondly. I'm thinking about what my secret life might be…
I hope the performance went well on Sunday. I was bummed I couldn't listen since I was at church.
Secret or not, you are lucky that you are so amazing at both singing and motherhood!
Um … I blog.
My secret life is pretty boring
I love this part: "I am a mom who happens to sing, not a singer who happens to have children."
This is such a great post! I love that people see you being busy and working hard and being a great mother… and oh yeah, you have serious amazing singing talent!!
I have known other people who fit the category "a singer who happens to have children" and while everyone can make their own choices, I think their children might miss out and down the road they will regret it.
But you will be the one to set a good example in your home. This is something you do, but it's not your whole life. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to be able to see and hear you sing sometime! 🙂
What strikes me most is you GOT IT! You know exactly what your priorities are and you live them.
I admire that in you greatly! Not all women discover their worth as a mother and seek it from their outside secret lives.
A big "BRAVO!" for both identities. 🙂
That's very cool. You are very talented in many areas. 🙂
This was SO interesting to read. I'm always wondering how I will end up negotiating that line. It was refreshing to read how you have and how happy you are as a result. 🙂