how do we do it?

(above: a full family collaborative drawing)

A common question that I am asked is how I/we (me and my husband Zack, also an artist) do this– this combination of teaching, art-making and parenting three small boys. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, especially in terms of what we don’t do. I know that might seem reductive, but it’s a way of actually answering the question. The short answer is that we don’t have 9-to-5 jobs. A great bulk of our work happens after 7:30pm (when our kids go to sleep), and during the day we engage a ceaseless shuffle between the two of us with shifting teaching schedules that are designed to avoid overlaps. We move fluidly (or clumsily) depending on who has a big project on the line, and one of us is always more heavily employed on the child care side at any moment. And in that vein, any parent of young kids knows that the entire day is work. That’s just all there is to it. It often takes the guise of play, and it’s often an enjoyable type of work, but it’s a relentless job. I get claustrophobic, irritable and tired, but then I also get washed over by gratitude and amazement. The other indispensable component is generous family members who have convinced us that they enjoy taking the boys off our hands every now and then. They are angelic.

Here’s old favorite Rock’n’Roll mama Kristin Hersh talking about her version of juggling (I didn’t know she had four boys until I saw this!)


2 thoughts on “how do we do it?”

  1. P.S. I thought a lot about an older interview I read with Kristin Hersh when I first had little babies. She described writing songs in her head while she changed diapers and did laundry, and then recording them at night. Many times, I use the in between times to think about what I want to do, so that when I get a chance to get at my work, I’m not blank. Hersh also talks about the way that song-writing seemed to relieve symptoms of schizophrenia when she was young, and, while I don’t think I have the same extreme, I’m certainly more healthy when I’m able to make things. So then the question becomes… “how could I *not* do this?”

  2. Gala, I always love when you post these. I’m at the end of my one year “rest” post graduating–savoring weekends and sitting in front of the TV on week nights–and imagining what the coming year will look like for me. Timely reminders of what it takes to live into both our current dreams: family life and work life. Thanks.

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