Rachel LoshakProfession: President of Apple-Eye productions, producer of Gustafer Yellowgold, singer/songwriter/bassist
Web Site(s): RachelLoshak.com, GustaferYellowgold.com, Rachel's Blog
Marital Status: Married
Spouse's Name: Morgan Taylor
Residence: Catskills, NY
Child's Name/Age: Harvey, 19 months
Professional Description: Gustafer Yellowgold was created by my husband and is managed jointly under our company Apple-Eye Productions. We have been working together on Gustafer Yellowgold since 2005, and have released 3 DVD/CD sets, performed over 400 concerts for families across the U.S. and internationally and are currently working on the next project. Gustafer is a friendly creature who came to Earth from the sun and is living out an explorerís life in a slightly psychedelic version of the Minnesota woods.Q: Why did you decide to become a mom later in life? What factors precipitated this decision (or dictated it)?
A: I never felt ready to have children any sooner, in my relationship with Morgan, in my career or in my own sense of self.Q: What do you love about your career? What is most challenging about your work? How long are you doing it? Where do you see yourself heading?
A: I love the part of my job where we hear feedback from parents about their children getting something more out of what we do than just pure entertainment. I love hearing that children connect to Gustafer Yellowgold on a creative level of their own - sending us their drawings, photos and comments. I love performing in this show. I also love being able to work from home and travel with my family. We tour a lot together. Often it can be very stressful and difficult, but we enjoy it together when things go well!
When we are at home, it is a challenge to balance the time I spend working with the time I spend with Harvey and Morgan. I'm pretty typical in that the thing that gets left behind is spending time on my own projects and thoughts. I've worked as a musician/singer/songwriter in my own right for 14 years, and have been working with Morgan on Gustafer Yellowgold for the last 5 years. We both hope that at some point I will be able to focus more on my own music and other creative endeavors. For now, I'm enjoying seeing our company grow steadily from all our collective hard work.Q: What have you experienced through motherhood that has also helped you in your work or personal life?
A: I've learned that it's better - and quite possible - not to be stressed all of the time. Nothing I do is as important as the health and happiness of Harvey, although I'm working hard so that I will be able to provide for him throughout his life. If it leads me to not be present with him, then I need to make a change. That's definitely something that has helped me in every aspect of my life.Q: What is a typical day for you like, managing both work and home life? Do you do any work from home? If so, how do you find that? Have you worked more or less since you became a mom? Do you travel a lot, and do you take your family? What does your child/children think of your work?
A: When we are not on tour, we try to create a schedule where one of us works, and one of us is with Harvey. Depending on what is going on, one of us might need extra time, so we have to be flexible too, and allow for the ebbs and flows of work. The great thing about it is that Harvey gets to be with one of us all the time, which at this age is wonderful, and quite a luxury for him and us. It's great to work and then all have lunch together. Occasionally we've had a friend come and babysit a day or two during the week so that we can BOTH get a full day of work done.
I have been very lucky in that since Harvey was born I have been able to work solely from home. It has enabled me to comfortably continue breast feeding without ever having to pump or choose between whether I work or whether I breast feed. In the U.K. the maternity leave is far longer than it is in the U.S. - up to a year paid I believe - so I feel strongly that mothers are entitled to an extended period of time to be with their babies before going back to work, and am horrified at the maternity laws in this country (I lived in the U.K. until I was 23 years old). So working from home with our own business was, I felt, the only option for me to be able to be the mother I wanted to be and still be able to live here.
Being on tour since Harvey was 10 months old has been mostly great - there are definitely times when I feel it's too overwhelming for all of us, but overall it's very positive. Breast feeding on the road was very useful on many occasions - for the first three months of the tour I was able to perform the shows with Harvey nursing to sleep in the carrier! The first time he popped his head out having woken up during the last song was the last time we were able to do it!
Morgan and I both feel that Harvey has benefitted tremendously from having us around all the time. We just got back from a three-week tour in the midwest, after having taken a couple of months break from doing shows, and at 18/19 months he had a whole new experience with the concerts and traveling! When we travel we often are able to stay with friends, most of which also have children, so Harvey has lots of friends that he's met several times now in the different cities we have toured to. He also has begun to insist on watching the entire show, and will sit focused for the entire 45 minutes. He watches Morgan perform, and was given his own little toy guitar recently which he strums and sings, imitating some of the very small and specific gestures that Morgan does during the shows. He is taking in every single thing he sees and hears, and seems to get so much joy out of it during his own play - so I think it's a great experience for him.
We will eventually have to change the way we run our business somewhat to incorporate his need to go to school, but until then - we are looking forward to more shows and more touring! We have a full schedule coming up from a show at The Jewish Museum in NYC on November 15th, to shows in the new year in Philadelphia, New York, Washington, Carrboro, Memphis, Nashville, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cambridge, Northampton and Brooklyn! (The Gustafer website has all the details!)Q: How do you think being a later in life mom has affected your experiences as a parent (share both good & not so good)? Has anything about being a mom surprised you? What do you most try to teach your child/children?
A: Being a later in life mother gave me the time to do so much before I had Harvey, that I don't miss any of it now. I will cherish many of the experiences I had during my twenties and thirties before I was a mother. Doing so much during that time has enabled me to see that I don't have to stop pursuing what I enjoy because I am a mother, but I can include Harvey in doing those things now so he can enjoy them too. As he grows up, I look forward to being able to share my past experiences with him - and hope he'll gain from hearing about what I've done with my life. I don't feel restricted or like I've missed out on anything because of being a mother in the way that I think I could have if I'd become a mother earlier in my life.
The thing that I regret most about being an older mother is that now I know how joyous it is to be pregnant, to give birth, to breast feed and to raise a child. I wish that I had started having children earlier so that I could have more. I hope that we will have a second child, but maybe if I was younger I would have chosen to have more...
I'm am surprised every day at how much I love Harvey. To see him grow and develop and learn new things is incredible.Q: Where do you or did you turn for support as a mom? Do you have a support network and community? How important do you think it is to connect with mom peers? Do you find social networking sites of value? Do you consider yourself a role model for other later moms or aspiring later moms?
A: During my pregnancy I used the books I was reading as support to prepare for the birth, of which I was terrified (I had Harvey at home, which was significantly less terrifying for me than having a hospital birth), I also relied on Morgan a lot, my midwife, my female cousins with whom I am very close and my mother. During the first weeks of motherhood, I really needed the ongoing support of my midwife, but also started to reach out to other people in the community - mostly La Leche League leaders, one of whom came to my house during the first weeks to help Harvey and I learn how to nurse, and then after that for the next year, I attended regular meetings once or twice a month. Friends who lived close by were also great to connect with, though I found that the differences between how I was parenting and how most other people were parenting were large sometimes, so often it felt better to keep to myself and my family. Working at home with Morgan makes a big difference for me in that respect, as Iím not on my own at home while my husband is at work all day - I would have found that situation much more difficult.
I hope I would be a role model for other mothers who are thinking of having children later in life. Both my grandmothers had babies into their forties, and that was certainly inspirational to me. I would be honored if another mother was inspired by my experience.Q: What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a mom later in life? If you have one child at this point, do you envision having more?
A: Becoming a mother later in life carries some concerns that many women are scared by in regard to the health of the baby and themselves. I feel that if you do everything within your means to live healthily, especially in the months leading up to conception, and take care of yourself appropriately during your pregnancy, then make the choices that you are completely comfortable with for the birth, it is quite realistic to have it all go well. Once you have your baby - the experience is so incredible, you will have so much to bring to your relationship with your child. I wouldn't be scared of having children.Q: When you became a mom, did your own mother share any particular sentiments or advice that really resonated? Or do you recall anything from your own upbringing that really stuck with you and youíd like to pass on to your child/children?
A: One night during the first few days of Harvey's life, he and I were awake in the night and I couldn't get him to sleep. I sat in our office and called my dad and asked him if he remembered ANYTHING about when I was a few days old? I thought there was a chance he might be able to tell me what I could do to help get Harvey to sleep (I was desperate!) He said you just have to get through it... which although it doesn't sound very helpful, was enough to make me relax and just be with Harvey.
Later that week, my milk still had not started to come, and my mother told me to drink half a pint of Guinness. I didn't feel like drinking beer at all, and brushed it off as an old wives tale! But Morgan came home from the grocery store with a bottle of Guinness and suggested I try it. I drank the whole thing - it tasted SO GOOD! The next morning my milk came. Who knows if it was the Guinness!
The most resonant thing about parenthood I've learned is that my instincts were always right for us. I know myself, and I know that Morgan and I know Harvey better than anyone else. It's important to remind ourselves of that sometimes. Harvey will hopefully always know that we are unconditionally there for him because of our confidence in ourselves as his parents.
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