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by Katy Otto

Nick and Amber are musicians from Louisville, Kentucky. Nick has played in a number of bands and is currently in Young Widows, and Amber is in Tamerlane Trio and is an organizer with the Louisville Outskirts Festival. They shared their ideas with me about parenting when both partners have active creative practices.

Please tell us about both your creative life/practice and your experience with parenting.

We're both musically active in several projects, and both have interests that range all over the place. There's always a balance and we have to make sure all three of us are happy. Really, parenting is a creative practice in itself! There's no handbook. We are all trying to figure out how to parent, so we all do things a little differently.

What were some of the fears you had (if any) about how becoming a parent would impact your creative life? Would you say now, in retrospect, that they were well founded?

Honestly, we didn't really have any fears concerning how becoming a parent would impact our creative lives. It's in our blood to create, and have never stopped. Nick knew it would impact tour schedules, but that wasn't a negative thing. It just forced more creativity and planning around when and how to tour.

What does your creative life look like currently? How is it different from before you were a parent?

Nick currently plays bass in Young Widows, and Black God. Amber currently sings with Tamerlane Trio and is one of the organizers for Louisville Outskirts Festival and Rockshops for Girls this year. We are both photographers as well. Before we were parents, our creative lives were about the same. There are always fluctuations, but that's not necessarily a reflection of being a parent, it's more a reflection of time.

How do you carve out time and space for your creative practice as a parent?

It's more focused. Time has to be more planned and deliberate. We are very much a team, which makes it easier when one of us has a project that needs a little more attention. Communication and scheduling is key, and our families are a constant support.

What kinds of adjustments did you make to your creative practices when you became a parent?

PATIENCE. Some days you don't have a chance to work on those projects you really want to get done. We usually use post-bedtime for our creative outlets, it works nearly all of the time.

What do you tell your children, if anything, about the role of creativity in your life?

It's not really a conversation we have, it's more through our actions. He sees what's important to us, what we value. Hopefully that translates the importance of being creative and encourages him to explore his own creativity.

In what ways do you think being an active artist/writer/musician/creator helps make your parenting stronger?

Openness. Children are probably the purest form of creativity, and that energy is just another way to communicate and be present with each other.

In what ways do you think being a parent has made your artistic practice stronger?

It gives you a different perspective on everything. You get to relive your childhood in certain aspects, and that revitalizes the mind. Kids often present some amazing ideas that may have never crossed your thoughts. Keeps you outside of the box all the time!

What do your children think of your creative work?

For a while Elliott thought that all band members lived in our van parked in the driveway. He also believes that all drummers are named Jeremy and that Nick sings in Nirvana. He loves Ã’Daddy's band" as well as Amber's various musical projects. When Sandpaper Dolls were active he wanted to be present for most of their practices. Just recently he got to see Young Widows for the first time. He sat on Nick's brothers shoulders and air drummed the entire show. It was awesome. We do have a family band, where Elliott plays drums - he named the band Rocket Booty.

Do you think creative communities are friendly to children and parents and encourage their presence? Are there any ways these communities could improve? Feel free to be specific if you would like to.

Yes and no. There are a ton of really amazing opportunities in Louisville for kids and parents to enjoy. In rock n roll, there's not much room for kid friendly anything and mostly for good reason. I'd rather not have my 4 year old son hanging out in a bar until 2am to see a rock show. When he gets a bit older I'd love for him to get to some all age shows but those scenes come and go.

How did becoming a parent affect your creative partnerships with other people?

Expectations change on all sides. You have to plan, you can't be as spontaneous. That's a hard place for someone to understand when they're able to do mostly what they want when they want. Do you think that some of the challenges parenting presents for creative practice are impacted by your gender? Please share any thoughts you have about this.

At the beginning, yes, especially when breastfeeding is involved, but that doesn't last forever. I would say based on our experience after the first several months, no. We both value and respect each other's creative pursuits, so responsibilities are equally shared.

Has your creative community been supportive of you as a parent?

Yes, very much so!

Do you have any more thoughts to share with other prospective or current parents about preserving and nurturing one's own creative efforts while raising children?

Make sure you have a support team, whatever that may look like: partner, family, or friends. Have lots of patience. Your creative life doesn't end where your child's begins.

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