Dear Larissa: Right the F*** On
We’ve never spoken, I don’t think, but I’ve written about you a number of times. My name’s Chris, and I’m a big fan of your music. But right now, I’m writing to tell you how much I admire what you’re doing by stepping away from the live arena in order to focus on your son and your family.
My wife and I had our first child in July of 2020, during the heart of the COVID pandemic. It was difficult and scary to say the least – we’d both lost our jobs, we had to switch doctors and hospitals to accommodate lockdown in the state we’d just moved to, and every day the news was showing us new evidence of just how rotten the world we were bringing a child into could be. When the time came, we both had to get COVID tested before finding out whether or not I could be in the room while my wife delivered – we were, mercifully, both COVID-negative – and we did the entire labor process in masks. As much as I forced myself to wear a brave face, I was scared shitless at all times.
As difficult as it was for me, I to this day cannot imagine how hard it was for my incredible partner. One minute, she is carrying a nine-pound baby around with her everywhere. The next, after undergoing an inherently traumatic experience that was either downplayed because most people survive it or soothingly painted as beautiful or holy, she was a mom, barely sleeping, trying to nurse, and being guilt-tripped by our awful local pediatrician about every little thing (we’ve thankfully moved on from that doctor, our new one’s amazing). My wife had to undergo all of my experiences and then some, presented with the extra layer of hormonal insanity that comes with giving birth. She will forever be, in my mind, a goddamn superhero.
And yet, even though the uncertainty of the pandemic was brutally stressful for us – and hell, we were the lucky ones, staying uninfected and eventually finding other work – the lockdown was in many ways a godsend. We’d built our lives around the hustle, but our baby needed constant attention, and trying to juggle them and two full-time gigs would’ve been simply impossible. Not only that, but it was good for us as a family, giving us a chance to dive headfirst into the love we felt for this little bean. We got to be there for our baby, and that’s something for which I am eternally grateful.
Three months in, when we realized that both of our previous jobs had given us each one measly month of parental leave, we were disgusted. A month? How could we have left this tiny baby in someone else’s care at one month old? How were we expected to keep hustling while wondering what was happening to our child, all while our minds – and in my wife’s case, her body – were still recovering from the most monumental experience we’d ever known? What kind of messed-up world do we live in that looks at two people admiring their beautiful new child, and then clears its throat and taps its fucking watch?
But we’re desk jockeys. For you, someone who gets onstage and leaves everything there in a blast of energy and emotion, the idea is beyond unthinkable. Having worked in this industry on the sidelines, I’ve watched so many musicians get told to tour tour tour, work work work, hustle hustle hustle, until they burn themselves out. And I’ve come to realize what a travesty that is. So to read that you were making the difficult decision to step away from live shows so you could focus on raising your child according to your standards was one of the most inspiring things I’ve seen in a long time. Maybe it can be different after all.
I wish I could tell you what the future holds for you, besides the inevitable diaper rash and sleep debt. As you’ve seen, if you’ve read this, I can only tell you how your choice has affected me. But from where I’m standing, from one parent to another, thank you, Larissa. Thank you for raising the bar. Thank you for reminding us that no matter how hard the world urges us to sacrifice what little beauty we have in our lives in the name of work, it’s important to have our priorities in order. And love always deserves top billing.
My heart to you and your family. It sounds like your son is in good hands.