For anyone who’s been keeping score, its been almost two and a half years since life around here got so heavy that I dropped almost completely from the web-o-sphere, and a year and a half since I wrote my blog post saying that it might be some time longer before I could start anything new.
Since then, I’ve knowingly taken note of other online presences who have disappeared from time to time due to family responsibilities. A couple of web cartoonists in particular disappeared for quite a while after their first children were born and I can only picture the slow realization they must have had (as I did nearly 12 years ago) of exactly how much your life changes after becoming a parent. Free time? What’s that?
When I was single, I had all the time in the world to accomplish just about anything I wanted. Even after I was married, I still seemed to have quite a bit of time at my disposal. Once my daughter was born, tho, it became almost impossible to find time for personal projects. Interestingly, tho, I didn’t recognize it at first. See, within two weeks of Esmaya being born, the company I was working for went under, and I had to start freelancing, so for the next 5 and a half years, it always SEEMED like I was working on this enormous personal project; I was building my business.
Once I took my current job at ESPN, however, I realized that I had no time to support my freelance clients. Even cutting back didn’t seem to help much. In fact, even just one client can feel like a terrible burden a lot of the time. And the reason is that, any work outside of my day job keeps me away from being a father and husband, which is already the minority of my day, and unless I REALLY want to do the project, it just never feels worth it.
Just to take a moment and put things in perspective. Its not like I don’t have opportunities. In fact, I’m in the enviable position to be working for a company that would pay for my continuing education. And I could probably nail down my next degree on the company dime attending school at night. After much soul searching about this, however, I made the decision to hold off, at least for a couple of years. My daughter is almost 12. Within the next couple of years, she’ll be starting high school, spending less time at home with family and more time out with friends. All sorts of stuff is coming up, and there will be boys, too, no doubt. The last thing I want is to be holed up in my office every night for the next few years after work trying to pass classes while she deals with life.
And this applies not just to clients or college courses, but to personal projects as well. Start a comic? I MIGHT be able to put out a 24 page issue every year. A podcast? Ack! I did that for a few years, and one thing I learned from it is that getting out even just one episode a month is enough work to keep you from starting ANY side projects if you’re already holding down a day job. Blogs are similar. So, what then? It would have to be something with my family, or at least with my daughter.
And wouldn’t you know it? Something has come up. A very interesting opportunity full of possibility for creative growth on my end, father/dauther time for sure, and possibly, just possibly, fun for everyone else as well. I’ll tell you more in a few weeks, so stay tuned. I’ve got a fresh start and am already underway with the Next Thing. Best of all, it fits in perfectly with the whole Creative Independence mindset. I’ll catch you in a week.
Side note: A few months ago I heard an artist I really like talking about getting a studio outside his home while his kid is still young enough not to care. He’d move the studio back into the house once schooling starts and his son is old enough to appreciate having dad at home. I don’t want to call him wrong, because I don’t rightly know if he is or not. But it stuck in my mind, because I did just the opposite.
Having worked from home the first 5 years and then going outside of the house only after school started, let me give you my take. For five years, I got to watch my daughter grow up in a manner than most fathers don’t. I got to be the one she came home to after running around with mom on shopping days. I got to eat lunch with my wife and child almost daily. I got to take a break at 2:30 or 3:00 on hot days and jump in the pool with her (mom’s not a fan of swimming pools) or go outside after it stopped snowing and build snow men and forts. We became really close. To this day, she still talks about those days with an incredible fondness and tells me often that she misses them. I didn’t do the other thing. I don’t have stats or studies. All I know is that, for me, it was worth the struggle to keep working from home for that part of her life and I’d recommend the effort to anyone who wants to give it a try.