NERISSA NIELDS Musical, momma.

AGE   44

HOMETOWN   Northampton MA

@TWITTER   @NerKat

ON THE WEB   The Nields

NUMBER OF CHILDREN  Two

DAY JOB   Musician/writer

RELATIONSHIP STATUS   Married

FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK   Right now, it’s the Laura Ingalls Wilder series. We all loved them, and we took a family vacation to visit her husband Almanzo’s boyhood home in upstate NY. We love the pioneer adventure stories! The other book that is #1 these days is a 30 lb copy of the Beatles Anthology that our 3 year old lugs around the house and opens, crouches, scours, asks us about. Once we brought it to church and it fell open to a picture of John & Yoko, naked. The church ladies liked that.

HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY?

I said to Tom when we were deciding whether or not to have kids that I needed to co-parent—that I was unwilling to let go of my career as an artist and that we’d have to figure a creative way to run a family. He agreed. Fortunately, he is a terrific present active dad who loves to be home and playing with the kids. He works as a psychotherapist with somewhat flexible hours Mon-Thur. He watches the kids Monday and Wednesday evenings when I write and run writing groups, and he is often on duty when I go away on weekends for gigs. I teach from my house and in town, and both of us do drop off and pick up.

I also run early music programs for kids and usually bring one of my children with me when I teach. Whenever I think about a new project, I first calculate how I can fit my parenting around it. If I can’t, I probably won’t do it. I will sometimes write in front of the kids, or do email work. They understand that I work at home, and they know the difference between open door work and closed door work. Mostly I do open door work with them. They are both Suzuki music students (violin and guitar) and so I am very present in their music education, which isn’t exactly my work, but I do write a lot about being a Suzuki mom. So in many ways, our family life and work life are all of a piece. Mostly it’s terrific. Often we are all so tired we pass out in bed. Together.

HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL?

I am less judgmental of other parents!

HOW HAS PARENTING AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP?

We don’t ever take any free time we get to have together for granted!

WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?

Hard to pick just one. And I won’t really know this until they’re grown up and in therapy and report back on all my sins! But right now, I think because of how we pack it in so tightly, time-wise, that my worst parenting moments come when I am trying to get somewhere on time with the kids. Getting them dressed is still a challenge. My 6 year old is picky about what she’ll wear, and I will yell at her to just PICK SOMETHING, ANYTHING!!!

With my 3 year old boy, who will often run fast in the other direction when he sees I have his clothes in my fist, I have been known to force the clothes onto his sweet little body. I hate to even write this. How can it be more important to get somewhere on time than to let my son have some autonomy and get dressed at his own pace? But in the moment I lose all faith that he will ever get out of his wet diaper and PJs and take matters into my own hands.

WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?

Not one moment, but in general I am very happy about the way we’ve brought music into our family life in all sorts of ways. And right up there next to that, I’d say I am proud of the way I have encouraged my kids to be kind to each other. They adore each other, and while they certainly have their moments of rivalry, by and large they love to share, surprise each other, support each other.

When we are all together jamming to the Beatles or one of our songs, and my daughter is playing her violin and my son is drumming, or when they’re singing along in the back seat, I feel like I am doing my job right.

Lisa Duggan

Lisa Duggan is the Founder and CEO of The Modern Village, and publisher of TheParentduJour.com and TheMotherHoodBlog.com.

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