“But there never seems to be enough time, to do the things you want to do once you find them…”
–Jim Croce: Musician, Lover, Dreamer, Mustache-Wearer
A funny thing happens when you commit your life to another person: You don’t get to do what you want all the time.
Then the two of you make a new little person (or two or three), and then you really can’t do anything that you want, EVER. You can’t get drunk and spontaneously board a bus to Milwaukee. You can’t eat ice cream for dinner. You can’t get busy in the parking lot behind Radio Shack.* You can’t even keep fresh cut flowers on the table, because certain little people will knock over the vase, spill the water and eat the flowers.
Don’t get me wrong—despite what my combat-boot-wearing self said 15 years ago about perpetuating the oppression of the patriarchy— I love being married. I adore my children. Being trapped in this straightjacket of domesticity is like being embraced in a warm, sticky hug, 24 hours a day, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
However, there comes a time when you have to scrape off the boogers, pull on some real pants (with a belt), and shift your energy to more creative pursuits. But, girl, it’s not as easy as it sounds.
Since I’ve started this blog, a couple of people have asked me, “where do you find the time to do all this crap?” And the answer is, STUDIO NIGHT!
(Also, my house usually looks like this:)
Strangely, nobody ever asks Scott where he finds the time for his comics, but if they did, the answer would be “STUDIO NIGHT!” (plus a day job where nobody seems to pay attention to what he’s doing).
WHAT IS STUDIO NIGHT?
STUDIO NIGHT is on Monday. It starts when the kids go to bed. It ends when we go to bed. It lasts about 3 hours. There’s no TV watching, no talking about our days or about our feelings or what needs to be done around the house. There is only doing.
There are two simple rules to STUDIO NIGHT:
1) Do something creative
2) Don’t bother me
A BRIEF HISTORY OF STUDIO NIGHT:
When I met Scott, he was already a father to an adorable 4-year-old boy. We quickly settled into a routine that revolved around the custody schedule: Max nights (Tuesday, Thursday, every other weekend), and Date nights (Monday and Wednesday). There was always enough time to spend with Max, and each other, and alone. This worked well for a few years.
Then, in the span of 4 short years, Scott and I got married, had a baby, and then had another baby. Oh, and I lost my job right before the first baby was born.
Suddenly, I was a full-time mommy. I loved my babies, but at the end of the day I wanted nothing more than a glass of wine and some adult conversation. I didn’t care so much about art, or writing, or making stuff. It was enough to get through another day.
I never stopped to think about how quickly the trajectory of life had changed. My entire adult life — including college — had been occupied by challenging jobs that were full of outlets for creativity and even humor (like constructing a giant pair of women’s panties for a street theater action on Michigan Avenue, or orchestrating this Billion Dollar Bake Sale in the state capitol).
I was used to sharing my days (and many evenings) with smart, passionate, funny adults. And now they were shared with stinky, whiny, endlessly needy children. I did get another job, but one that allowed me to stay home with the second baby.
Scott managed to keep up his gaming and other hobbies, and I’m not sure he understood my hunger to just DO NOTHING every night after the kids went down. I tried to write, but it went nowhere. Meanwhile, as Scott got more serious about his comics, we designated one or two nights a week for him to do nothing but draw. I supported him wholeheartedly, but inside I was feeling lonely and stuck.
After a few months of self-pity, I stared hard at a list of projects that I could never find the time to finish. Nothing big; just little projects around the house, stuff that I could never get done when the kids were awake because they involved needles or power tools or toxic fumes. Stuff that would make our daily lives just a little bit more beautiful.
Then I used Scott’s drawing nights to actually finish my projects. And it felt really good. So I started a blog and promised to update it once a week, to give myself a false sense of accountability (and also because I was jealous that Scott had a blog and I didn’t).
And then — suddenly — I had something to write about. And remembered how much I loved writing, and making beautiful things. And maybe, how much I loved my husband.
Thank you, STUDIO NIGHT!
“I’ve looked around enough to know that you’re the one I want to go through time with.”
*We’ve never done any of these things.