All parents struggle to find a way to make everything work together. There’s so much going on in family life, especially in the early days, and everyone’s path forward is personal to their needs. Artists and writers face unique challenges when it comes to finding the right life and work balance.
I came across “A Question of Balance: Artists and Writers on Motherhood” during the first few months after my daughter, my first baby, was born. I needed to hear how other parents had solved this problem of getting on with their work and being there for their children. Yet it seemed like there was a strange code that forbid women in particular to discuss their childcare arrangements, any help they may have from family, and how many hours they worked. That’s why it was so refreshing to hear these honest conversations about all these practical issues.
Sarah Charlesworth, an artist with a seven and three year old writes,
“The strongest effect of having children is in terms of the practicality of managing my life. On that level, it’s absolutely affected everything about the way I work and the way I think and the way I organise my time.”
Mary Gordon, a novelist writes,
“When they [her children] were both about four months, I sent them to a baby-sitter in the mornings. And I was very vain in saying, ‘Well, four hours [writing] is fine, and that’s more than most people really do people waste time going to lunch and sharpening pencils and having coffee, and I don’t do that.”
Still others talked about how they faced issues and criticism that their husbands or partners did not.
Perri Klass, a writer and physician whose work brings her medical knowledge into her storytelling writes,
“While Klass finished medical school and her internship, her companion, Larry Wolff, took over the domestic front and the care of their first child. She has pointed out in print that o one has ever asked Wolff — who is a college professor, published author, and father — how he manages to do it all. She says, “What I think is funny is that even when we were in the situation where it was perfectly obvious that I was not around, that Larry was primarily raising the child for a couple of years, nobody ever thought it was evidence of unusual dedication or talent or skill.”
I know for me the idea of being an outlier was hard. I wanted to know that there were other women struggling to find the right proportion of time spent mothering to time spent pursuing their goals and dreams. As a writer I felt I faced a mixture of factors that made “A Question of Balance” a comforting and practical book.
You can buy A Question of Balance on Amazon