Photo: Fred Thornhill/The Globe and Mail

A reader in Canada has alerted me to a really nice article — a profile of a musical mother who is keeping up her career but not letting it get in the way of having a family. Child number four is on the way and won’t be the last if she and her husband have their way.

Some people might be sceptical that, with three children under five and a profession that takes her as well as her husband (also a musician) touring — though seldom at the same time — she can do everything justice. Many couples today would have delayed, or strictly limited, the children; others would have decided mom’s career should go on hold.

But Natalie MacMaster, internationally acclaimed for her virtuoso performances of Cape Breton fiddle tunes, says they just make it work:

“We’d have no kids if we were trying to wait for the right time. And who’s going to sit and wait for life to have its right moments? Life is a ball that just rolls, and you just get on it. And sometimes you’re going to get squished, and sometimes you’re going to be at the top.”

Not that she hasn’t struggled with the issues:

MacMaster isn’t of the you-can-have-it-all school of motherhood, and freely admits that she considered putting her musical career on hold while raising her ever-growing brood. “I struggled with this about a year and a half ago,” she says. “How important is it for me to keep up music, as opposed to the importance of being home all the time with the children?”

The conclusion she came to:

Ultimately, she decided that the most important thing was to be true to who she is. “I might say I’m wrong in a year, or 10 years, but I think it’s important for our children to have their mother and father doing what their gift is, and doing it really well. Doing it in moderation, but so that they see it and hear it.”

Letting their children “see it” means often bringing them along on tour. “I call myself ‘a stay-at-home mom on the road,’ ” says MacMaster. “We take our children with us everywhere. There are occasions where neither myself or Donnell are with the children – like six days out of the whole year – and we have the grandparents or somebody staying with them for the night.”

Even those small absences are hard for MacMaster. “Oftentimes, we are with our children physically but not mentally, and that’s the part that bothers me,” she says. “They’re here today. I’ll see them for lunch, then I’ll teach in the afternoon, and I’ll see them for dinner. But I wouldn’t want to be doing this all the time.”

Still and all:

“When we’re on the road, they see us performing,” she adds. “I think that’s more healthy than me not doing that, saying I’m giving up my career for the next however long, and being at home all the time. I think they’re getting more the other way, even though it requires a little more flexibility. We have to be on the go a lot. They’re travelling a lot. But I think the pros outweigh the cons.”

Follow the link and read the whole piece — and watch the video, a fiddle performance that will give you a buzz.

* Thanks to Joe Atkinson for this tip.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet