So I was originally going to write about the awesome black eye that my daughter got this week but I realized a few paragraphs in that it wasn’t my story to tell. While it is a very important thing to talk about I felt like I had given to many “here’s a list of things” stories lately. So to switch things up a little, I’m going to talk about something that I struggle with on a regular basis here in the Reese household, balancing baby time with creative time.
Before my daughter showed up 7 months ago, I had all the time in the world. I was able to stay up late, randomly start projects and finish them as I saw fit but as any parent can explain, that all changed when that little bundle of joy showed up. Like most people struggling with life, you have to figure out what the balance is for you and for 24 years of my life, that was a really easy thing to figure out. I only had to think of myself. Yes, I had other people in my life: girlfriends, family and friends, but they always came second and for good reason. If you think about it, it makes sense really. If you aren’t feeling well then hanging out with friends might not be the best thing. But I digress, for this article isn’t about random instances in life but a very specific subject – creativity.
Now in my line of work (graphic design, comic artist, general hands on guy), being creative is a central part of my life. The fact that my paycheck comes around twice a month because someone wants my creative skills is a testament to that alone. So what is my secret? How do I manage to create 3 comics a week and write a blog post? I’m a very determined person who often puts aside short term gain for an overall happier experience. So that often means putting down the video games or turning off the TV and making myself work. I’m not going to lie, drawing comics is something that I love but it’s a labor of love sometimes. Like any human in the world, sometimes I just don’t want to do it and I really want to take the easy way out. But my biggest secret weapon in my arsenal of completing projects is simply Diane.
I am so blessed to have someone on my side who is rooting for me to win and is willing to put in the time with me. As a father, it means that I have to miss out on bath time sometimes or that I don’t feed her every time, but Diane fills in the gaps for me. I honestly feel like I’m just as big a hastle for her then our daughter is. Yeah, I don’t cry all the time or throw a fit when I don’t get my way but doing creative work requires time and energy. Sometimes I stay up till 1 am and she’s gone to bed hours ago. Or right now, she’s watching a movie and I’m in the other room typing this blog. When I’m done I’ll go out and join her, most likely watching the end of the movie or playing games but I’m still not there.
And that’s what breaks my heart sometimes. Like I said earlier, sometimes I miss out on bath time or play time and I never know where to draw the line. Where do I say, “enough is enough creative side” and go join my family for a fun round of crawling around the house. I don’t think I’ll ever know the answer until it’s way too late. One day when my daughter is graduating from college and she comes down to give me a hug after accepting that degree, maybe then I’ll know if I was there enough for her. If I supported her enough or played enough or just showed her that I loved her enough.
Man, insecurities can really rip you up. Not to mention that Diane works from home so she gets to spend all day with the little one (for better or worse). I then have the nerve to say I need a few hours a week to create a comic or write something. Am I really a good father?
The only reassurance that I can take from the situation is that I’m writing down history. With each post I create I’m making an archive, something that my daughter can read when she has kids of her own, something I never had the opportunity to do. With my father, he died 5 years ago so the thought of having a child wasn’t in the darkest part of my brain. I have no clue if he was scared, excited or a mix about being a Dad. So I guess my daughter will have the opposite experience, knowing what I was going through on a weekly basis. “Oh, I see that Dad was baby proofing the house this week, I’m glad he didn’t let me hurt myself.” I can see her muttering to herself as she reads my blog post.
I once read somewhere that in order to be a good parent, you need to put your child first, almost sacrificing your dreams for theirs. While I agree that being a parent involves large amounts of sacrificing, I can’t see myself destroying my dreams and goals just because someone said it was the best thing. Maybe it’s the 24 year old in me, too young to roll over and die but smart enough to know his limits. I’m not really sure. I guess I can only hope that my youthful spirit will carry me when it’s late and I want to just relax instead of making a comic. Hopefully my spirit will help me carry my daughter to bed at 2 am when she’s awoken from a bad dream and needs to be held until she falls asleep. Hopefully my spirit will help me be strong when Diane needs me to pull more weight.
I’m not sure which one scares me the most: the idea that I could fail as a father to my daughter and fiancee or that I’ll fail myself. And maybe that’s what scares me even more, that someday I may have to make the choice and when I do, there is no going back. Or at least, that’s what they tell me.
So, how do you deal with being creative with a child? When do you find time for yourself? Or have you given yourself completely over to your offspring, devoting yourself to their happiness. Which one has worked for you?
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