Babies are draining. They can be straight up vampiric. And they aren’t a part-time gig – no, you got roped into a contract more constricting than any record label’s. But you can handle it because you’re Mostly Metal, goddamn it; you’re made of tougher stuff.
But even tough parents have to rest up. Days are long, and nights are longer. I’m pretty sure I’ll never know what it’s like to have a full night’s sleep again, so that means I’ve got to find ways to function during the “normal human being” hours.
Here’s what helps me.
True Norwegian Black Coffee
“Metal flowing through your veins” is a good thing to have as a metalhead. It’s a good position to be in. Like, in some cases it probably looks great on a resume. Pretty sure it’s a requirement to play in Judas Priest. I don’t claim to be that metal, but you could do some blood tests and find trace amounts. However, it was mere days after the birth of my daughter that I’d really rather it was coffee.
When I hear bands sing about “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll,” the chief drug I have in mind is caffeine. Coffee’s gone from being a warm breakfast addition to balls-out ambrosia. I used to have one cup a day; now I’m lucky if I don’t go more than two. If it’s hot, I take it black as the forests of Norway; if cold I’m not above adding some sweet-ass creamer. I’m only Mostly Metal, I don’t have to commit to a perfect image for shit.
You can’t sleep on the job, the job being taking care of your kid. Well, you can, but only when all the conditions are met. I’m not talking incantations and a five-pointed star ringed with candles, I mean when Baby’s sleeping, you should be too. Catching a few Zs while she goes down for the afternoon nap is not neglect in any form. If anything, you’re fortifying your body so you can be in your prime when she wakes up. Like, you know how KISS could ‘rock and roll all night and party every day?’ Yeah, this is like the complete opposite of that.
I contradict the whole “catch up on sleep” all the time. She’s sleeping right now and I’m writing this damn thing on my phone at two in the morning! Viewing sleepy time as a free period to round out your hobbies or catch up on work is dangerous territory. After all, if you aren’t at your best, it’ll only make an emergency all the worse, so time it right.
Metal in general won’t keep you awake during those truly dark hours. I know metal gets us pumped up, but getting prepped for a concert isn’t the same as keeping yourself awake. Those pieces don’t quite fit together. But if you’re going to be stubborn about it, well, I won’t try to stop you.
Power metal tends to be a pretty good choice for keeping that energy high. Gamma Ray, Angra, Blind Guardian, etc. Watch out, though – these bands aren’t afraid to toss in the occasional ballad. These can be absolute buzzkills if they come at the wrong time, so make sure you’ve got them down on the lullaby part of the playlist.
A Social Network
Metal is better with friends and family, and occasionally so is child-rearing. Some days you’ll be so tired you’ll want to stay inside, lock the doors, and sever the landline (50 years from now, a band will absolutely call itself Sever the Landline). But being social actually can unlock some of the most dedicated rest periods.
You get to hang out with people you like (assumedly), they get the satisfaction of seeing this creature you helped create, and you get to escape for a few minutes to rest. It’s important for many parents, both the metal ones and not, to get the occasional period of hands-off time. And if you fall asleep mid-sentence while relaying your baby’s latest exploits, well, you’ll have someone else there to pick up the slack.
It’s extremely cathartic to be able to talk about how stressed, tired, or frustrated you are to others. Getting that off your chest, if even for a half hour, is an invaluable act you’d be foolish not to take advantage of. I mean, you need friends or family to make it work, but it’s a good one. If you really need to, you can even email me!
Share the Wealth
It’s possible you aren’t having any trouble acclimating to life with your newborn. Maybe you even thrive on it. In that case, I don’t really have any advice for you, you superhuman. You could probably play two-hour setlists if you wanted. You’re not a member of Iced Earth, are you? Can I have your autograph?