About eight months ago, I became a dad to the most beautiful baby boy, Elliot, and it was the single greatest moment I've ever experienced.
Born on March 23, just after midnight, Elliot has had a two-fold effect on my life. On the one hand, I want to be around him every second of every day. If you're not yet a parent, you have no idea how much you can love another human being until you have a kid. On the other hand, it made me want to work harder than ever to provide a better life for my family.
I don't really know what it is. I guess maybe it's some kind of protective instinct that just kicks in once you become a parent. I've asked around to friends in similar situations and they seem to feel the same way. As the lead guitarist in a rock band, this is sort of a paradox because "working more" generally means touring more. As I write this post, I've already been on the road for close to two months.
Being away from home for so long is by far the trickiest part of balancing my new reality. I try to be "on call" 24 hours a day, should my wife Jenny need me. However, at the end of the day, being "on call" is really just a phone call. In order to try and combat this difficult situation, we came up with a game plan and set some ground rules in place.
1. Our time apart cannot exceed three weeks. I fly home or I fly Jenny and Elliot out to meet me on the road.
2. We must FaceTime or Skype at least two times a day. I don't want my child forgetting what daddy looks like!
At this stage in Elliot's life it seems like every day brings new developments. One day he's learning to crawl, the next he's making a new sound. These are things that I want -- no I NEED-- to witness, even if it's remotely via a webcam.
I love having my family on the road with me. It gets me out of bed early enough to enjoy the daylight and it keeps me active. At just eight months, Elliot is already a well-traveled little boy. He and his mother have come to visit me in NYC, Boston, Washington, Halifax, Los Angeles and Vancouver.
A side note to all musicians out there, fatherhood/motherhood completely changes your sleep reality. You have to learn to be flexible really fast. For the first few weeks that my wife and I had Elliot home with us we slept in two-hour intervals. To sum it up, you sleep when your baby sleeps and let me tell you, this sleep-deprived haze does not blend well when combined with the new parent paranoia that you're going to screw something up and accidentally kill your newborn! Unfortunately for parents, kids don't come with a manual.
When we're on the road together, the "sleep when he sleeps" theory kind of goes out the window. By the time I get back to the hotel after a gig it's usually after midnight and some nights closer to 1 or 2 a.m.. Regardless of my schedule, Elliot's inner alarm goes off at 6 or 7 a.m. and I just roll with it. In fact, I didn't realize until recently how little sleep a person can actually survive on and I've been a touring musician in a Rock n' Roll band for 10 years.
People always ask me if I want Elliot to follow in my footsteps and be a musician and I always have the same response: it's entirely up to him. I want him to enjoy music, but as someone who knows first-hand the amount of drive, dedication and obsession it takes to make a career in this business, I would want it to be his decision. I believe if he chooses to pursue passion in music it should be natural, not forced. Interestingly enough he actually already has a favorite song. I'm not kidding. We discovered quite by accident that he LOVES "Rip Tide" by Vance Joy.
It's actually a pretty funny story, one night a few months ago he was having a meltdown, as infants do from time to time, and "Rip Tide" came on the radio. It was amazing to watch his reaction, he was instantly calmed. At first we thought it was just a fluke, but we've tested and it works time and time again. I have even learned the song myself and now I sing it to him before he goes to bed.
I'm currently on the tour bus headed toward my family in Toronto. It's going to be great to spend a couple of days with Elliot and Jenny before we headline Massey Hall for the first time on December 11. Hometown shows or in this case, adopted hometown shows, are always a great excuse to get home and hang with the people that matter most. At the end of the day, it's always best to be back with the ones you love.
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