I always thought I would have kids and that it would be easy to get pregnant. And even though I got married at 21, my 20’s was focussed on education. I thought I had lots of time, people told me I had lots of time and my relatives were so fertile. My Métis grandmother’s fine art career was interrupted by World War II and then getting pregnant (before being married), and my mother got pregnant before she wanted to at around aged 25. So I never imagined that it would be hard to have kids.
When I was around 30, my husband and I decided we were ready for kids, and our experiences of infertility began. The excitement, anticipation and then deep disappointment and anguish was a monthly cycle over the next ten years. We went to an infertility clinic and discovered I had endometriosis, and so I had day surgery to deal with that, along with other treatments...but nothing worked. In the meantime, I focussed on my career in academia and music composition, and things were going well. By the time my husband and I were approaching 40, we were emotionally exhausted and starting to come to terms with the fact that we would never have kids. Our careers were going well and both of us were finding fulfillment, but there was a sadness, an emptiness within us. Over time and with some research, I learned that this sadness/emptiness will always be part of me and will come in waves for the rest of my life. I am learning to live with it, the waves of emotions that can roll through me at unexpected times. I keep telling myself that my life would be different if I had kids, and I do love my life the way it is, and what I am able to do with the freedom I have.
My husband and I have five God children and six nieces and nephews and we enjoy spending time with every one of them. In my Métis heritage “Aunties” play important roles in communities and families. In Cree, the translation of nikāwis (my aunty) means “like a mother.” Learning this has helped me to embrace my role as an aunty and as a God mother. All the children (some are now young adults) in our lives our precious.
This piece is a musical reflection of infertility, and the emptiness I will always feel. But I am also happy with my life and the children I have watched and continue to watch, grow and mature. So this piece isn’t simply the emptiness, but the ways I embrace the emptiness, and the fullness of this beautiful life I have been given, and the gifts of creativity, God children and nieces and nephews. The complex place of both emptiness and fullness is reflected in the dissonance and consonance of the music and the sometimes playful melodies that are interrupted and cut short. The pitch material is generally focussed around pitch-class set [0,1,3,4] and a seventh-chord progression is developed from this pitch material. I also used a Métis fiddle tune (a waltz) to shape the rhythm and contours in some melodies to reflect my heritage.