I have no idea how the hell you people do it.

I don’t have children. I’m not a parent.

But I imagine that when you become one, it’s the most beautiful moment in the world and you love every minute of it. I also imagine that this small knot of worry settles permanently into your stomach. That you have created something that you are now responsible for. That you are the one who figures out how to care for this thing, how to nurture it, how to sustain it over time, how to grow it and mold it and shape it to the best of your abilities. That it keeps you awake at night.

I don’t have children, but I do help run a small theatre company.

I have been staring at the budgets and the grant proposals and the ideas on the table for next season and the money and the money and the money and the money and the production and the marketing and the costs and the ideas and the paychecks and oh, god, the money — and it kind of feels like a similar thing. I love this job. It’s the most beautiful job I’ve ever had. I love these people. I love this company.

But when I came to be a part of this organization, a similar knot of worry started to grow, and settle down in the pit of my soul. I love this company. I love this job. I love it more than any other job I have ever had. But it keeps me up at night. My knot of worry is a pretty constant companion.

I know people — many people, in fact, mentors and friends alike — who both have children and who run companies. Who manage to balance a life in the arts with a life in a family. Who manage to live as both artists and businesspeople, who are responsible for others in a way that seems jawdroppingly, staggeringly difficult to me. Who manage to make it look easy.

I have no idea how the hell you people do it.

Running a company is really hard.
Surviving in the world as an artist is hard, too.
Being a parent has to be way, way harder.
Doing more than one of these at a time? Holy shit. How? You must all be goddamned superheroes.

I think I want to have kids someday. I also want to continue to work as an artist. I want to believe that those two goals are not mutually exclusive.

You people who manage to do all those things completely inspire me. I have a whole lot of respect for you, and I know that your work probably goes unappreciated pretty often.

So, hey. If you’re reading this, and you identify with the stuff I just wrote:

Thank you. I bet no one has stopped to tell you this in awhile, but I think you are pretty incredible, and I can only imagine how hard you are working. People like you inspire the hell out of people like me.

You make me believe that my anxiety knot is totally, totally worth it.

xo katherine


20 thoughts on “I have no idea how the hell you people do it.

  1. If and when the time comes for you to assume more of these roles, I’m sure you will rise to the occasion! When I had one child, I couldn’t imagine how people managed more than one, and then somehow I figured that out, too – along with running a private practice.

  2. I don’t understand how parents do it, either. I’m a teacher and I barely have time for myself after taking care of work stuff (and it’s never fully taken care of)… I don’t understand how my coworkers who are parents survive.

  3. Hey.. all I can tell you is that you will figure it out when the time comes. Everyone is scared shitless in the beginning. If they say they aren’t then they are lying to you. I have 3 kids, a full time job and even a few active hobbies. I don’t get much sleep.. but we get things done.

    If you think THAT is good, you should talk to my wife.. Great post and don’t worry.. you’ll figure it all out eventually .. πŸ™‚

  4. I am a professional writer. I work at home. My older son is an invalid, with cerebral palsy and seizure disorder. My younger son is autistic. They are both teenagers, with all the ups and downs that involves. It really is possible to be an artist and a mother. It helps a whole lot if you have support staff. My older son requires R.N. care. My younger son has a classroom aide and after school aides. I’ve got my own little village here, and together we’re all raising my sons. Thank you for noticing it’s hard work, and I wish you Godspeed with your theater company and your future family.

  5. Becoming a mother, once, or many times, is a permanent job but it is not worry that calls us to the office 24-7. Sometimes it is Joy. Sometimes, pure laughter. Sometimes, the learning. For this reason, mothering and art/work can be balanced. Your work is not all anxiety…there are many times when you must be immersed in the moment and not have the anxiety of the bills in the present. People suggest we “live in the moment”…i agree, it gives a sweet release from overwhelming responsibility we take on when we add loving and caring for others to our schedule of loving and caring for ourselves. Balance and Joy to you!

  6. I don’t understand how parents do it, either. I feel like if I had kids, I wouldn’t have time to focus on myself or my writing. For me, self-improvement is crucial to my happiness. If I have no time to myself or no time to write, the stress would be endless.

  7. “But I imagine that when you become one, it’s the most beautiful moment in the world and you love every minute of it.” Are you kidding me? It’s incredibly difficult, there are many, many difficult, terrible minutes (hours, days, months), and of course wonderful ones too, and most importantly it changes and deepens you, which is the same human experience we crave in our art, only parenthood’s a lightning bolt to the Taser shock of art. Once you’re a parent you probably won’t be running a theater company (yes, there are exceptions, but most of us don’t have the stamina and organizational skills to keep it ALL together). You’ll find other ways to make art, even though the art will always play second fiddle to your kids. And that, you will discover, is just fine.

  8. I pose this question frequently, less so because of any baby-like thing I’ve created, and more so because my ability to be responsible for another living creature has exponentially declined since age nine when I had a hermit crab. I applaud you, though, for having played such a huge role in the theatre company! That’s really amazing. And super hard high five on the book deal. Even though I’m 1000% envious of you, I think it’s so exciting and I will definitely be in line to buy it when it hits the shelves. πŸ™‚
    On another note, I just posted a blog that poses a similar question (“how the hell do you do it?”), but my targeted audience was bloggers like you, who have jobs and lives and still blog on a regular basis. No pressure to read it, but if you have a minute to check out it out, I’d love your answer/opinion.

  9. Loved this. So very very true. When I held my daughter for the first time all I could think was “Holy shit- she’s mine. I am responsible for her 100%. What the hell was I thinking?”. I was legit scared shitless. 4 years and two more kids later there are still nights that I go to bed wondering if I’m a good mom, and what I can do better. Thank you for your post- it means a lot. And for the record, you’re pretty darn awesome too πŸ™‚

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