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Stepping Away from the Family for Creative Work Can Be So… Easy?


This Week…

I have been away from my family for creative work. The show I composed, Common Ground, is making it’s world premiere at an off-Broadway professional youth theater in NYC, and this week was tech. 

Tech week is focused, determined, slow, detail oriented, and grueling. It’s long hours, late nights, making changes on the fly. On top of that, I had an hour commute each way everyday so I could stay with extended family in New Jersey. Monday night I was supposed to head home for 24 hours but my train was cancelled… so that was fun. 

However, the work I’ve been doing is fulfilling and interesting; creative and collaborative. I did not struggle for motivation or wish things could be different – I just endured the annoyances of public transportation, kept my head down and showed up early to rehearse every day with a smile on my face.  

This was the very first time…

in the life of my children (age 11 and 13) that I was the parent away for work and my husband was the only one holding down the fort. I’ve traveled for work before but we live in a multi-generational household, so there are usually grandmas and grandpas around who are so willing to step in and help with pickup / drop-off or meal time. So my husband never needed to take care of all the things on his own. This week was different. I think both he and I really liked reversing roles and feeling what it’s like in each others’ shoes.

Here’s the thing – I missed the fam, but never once did I worry about them. Never once did I wish things were different or feel sad when my train was cancelled because I couldn’t get home (disappointed yes because I sat there for 3 hours waiting for the train – then missed the stop back to Jersey… that’s a story for another time).

We’ve officially reached the age where my kids don’t need me anymore. They do, but they don’t. They are fine with keeping up their schedules and going to practices and doing their thing without me being the one to do everything. Damn, that is just so freeing!! Especially because I want to work more! I want to travel and take care of business. What a change from before when they were younger and I felt like I was the only one who could run the household. 

Kudos to my man for being our rock and never batting an eye this week about all the details of family life. He’s a gem, I swear.

There is something about…

collaborative, creative work that just gets me motivated beyond anything else. I love working as a group, bouncing ideas off of each other, sharing snacks, watching the story take shape in front of our eyes. I missed my family but it was not difficult to be away this time because I felt validated in my creative work. Probably because I knew it’s a step forward in my career; that this is something I’m meant to do, and I want my kids to see me engaging with my Creativity in this way so they know it’s possible for themselves as they get older. You CAN actually make a living in creative fields, you don’t have to be a starving artist.

In reality…

there are a few different types of creative parents – there are creative parents who make a living doing creative work, and there are parents who engage in creative work purely for the self-care and pleasure it gives them. For these parents, the work that pays the bills is separate.

I think I fall into a category in between these two. The work that brings my income is very creative – teaching and composing music for other people’s projects and programs. But my heart and soul is in songwriting and I do that for myself now – it’s my creative self care. 

The songwriting is the creative practice that I don’t do enough of, and it’s the thing that eats at me everyday. I don’t give myself enough time to honor that impulse throughout each week and it’s the thing that is most difficult to step away from the family for.

I wonder why?

Why is the creative practice that’s for ME the thing that I feel most guilty about honoring? But I have no trouble stepping away when it’s career-building work.

What do you do when you have to step away from your children to engage in your creative work? Do you feel guilty? Do you not?!

Leave a comment and let me know where you’re at on this…

And also… go see our show!!! Common Ground at TADA! Youth Theater from April 20 – May 11, 2024

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