It’s a pernicious belief that goes a long way back–back even to the Buddha himself, who had to leave his family to find Enlightenment. The writer Cyril Connolly once said that the enemy of art is the, “pram in the hall,” that kids hold artists down.
While there is no question that raising kids is hard, that it takes enormous amounts of time and energy–especially in a world where so much of the burden unfairly falls on women–but real artists and entrepreneurs and leaders know the truth. Kids are not a burden or an impediment to success. They help us. They give us purpose and clarity and most importantly, balance.
The great Lin-Manuel Miranda and his wife had their first child just two weeks before the first rehearsals of his smash play Hamilton. You might think that this was a disruption or a distraction but in fact, it was the opposite. Miranda told the filmmaker Judd Apatow in the book Sicker in the Head that Hamilton might not have succeeded without this life event, and Miranda himself might not have been able to withstand the success either. Having an infant at home wasn’t a distraction, it forced him to ignore distraction. “I had to say no to ninety percent of it,” Miranda says of all the offers and party invites that came his way, “because…I had to sleep eight hours and I knew I was gonna wake up twice and change diapers. My family really saved my ass, because I think that’s how you lose it.”
So actually maybe family does hold you back…from getting in trouble. From biting off more than you can chew. From thinking you’re bigger or more important than you are. It holds you down…to reality, to what actually matters. It makes you realize that you’re loved, that you’re enough. And as it happens, all of this can make you better at what you do.