Mom and Musician: How Moms Juggle Life on the Road
There's a bit of a baby boom happening in the Christian music industry. And these new moms aren't parking the tour buses once baby arrives. Many are committed to juggle being a musician and a mom -- singing hits at sold-out venues and midnight lullabies to colicky babies, entertaining screaming fans and appeasing screaming newborns, crafting soulful lyrics and changing dirty diapers. Take contemporary Christian singer Kari Jobe for instance. The 34-year-old and her singer-songwriter husband Cody Carnes are expecting their first baby any day now, as of press time. But on April 7, just weeks after welcoming her little man, she'll take the stage with groups like Hillsong and Jesus Culture for Outcry 2016, a tour that blends Christian ministry and music. According to her website, it's her first scheduled performance as a new mom.
After a demanding tour schedule throughout her entire pregnancy, vocalist Jodi King of the husband-and-wife duo Love & The Outcome decided to come off the road a few weeks before her Valentine's Day due date.
"I just can't quite fathom him from being from belly to arms," beams Jodi. "I'm really excited!"
She says up until now, she and her husband, bass player Chris Rademaker didn't really have a home life, just a road life. "Honestly having kids was always something that seemed like it would be fun to add to our lives, but not a top priority," explains Jodi. "We were slow to go down this road." But now the couple is thrilled with this new phase of life.
Jodi and Chris plan to hit the road again in early April, this time with "Baby Rad" coming along for the ride. "We've always pictured a life where family and the road becomes one thing," explains Jodi, who says in addition to the awesome leather jacket already hanging in baby's closet, a baby carrier will be a must-have. "I'm not sure how that's all going to work," she admits, "but being able to strap him on to one of us is going to be important at least in the beginning."
Being first time parents, Jodi says they've relied on advice from friends who have already experienced balancing music and motherhood. "Honestly, without having family in the same town [my friends who are moms] have been so important and such a gift to me," says Jodi, whose family lives in Canada and California while she is based in Nashville. "I have three different girlfriends that are all due with boys in the same couple of weeks window. Just having that community becomes a big deal."
One of those friends is Grammy-nominated recording artist Francesca Battistelli. "She has been my educator," laughs Jodi. The friends are in the same women's Bible study and even revealed their pregnancies at the same time to friends during lunch at Whole Foods. "I know for Franny, she just loves being a mom. I don't know how I'm going to be," admits Jodi.
Francesca, or Franny as friends call her, says she's no expert, but she's happy to help first-time moms. "I’m not a pro, but you do learn things along the way. It’s fun to have so many friends having their first babies. Since I’m the only one who’s been there, I have a lot of stories to tell," says Francesca, who is expecting her third child on March 17. She says she's spent almost all of her adult life on the road and knew she wanted to keep her kids close without giving up her dream. Francesca is seasoned at transitioning from signing autographs to wiping dirty bottoms, artfully negotiating from the life of a performer to the demands of motherhood.
While it's becoming more common to see kids piled into tour buses, she says it's still not a simple life. "Road life is hard, and it's even harder with kids. I won’t pretend that it isn’t," she admits. "I also don’t think it's been something a lot of people in the industry have had to deal with, so there is no real 'industry standard' for traveling moms. But I hope it continues to get easier. We need all the prayer, kindness, and help that we can get."
Francesca says this is the first year she and her husband decided to keep the kids home for a large portion of the year because it was too disruptive to have them gone from home for so long. And since her due date is after her friend Jodi's, she offered to make the new parents a meal once "Baby Rad" arrives. "[I told her to] bring me all your best Italian," laughs Jodi. Because no matter what demands you're trying to balance with motherhood, every mom needs the support of friends and plenty of pasta.