It’s All Part Of The Process

It’s one of the most odious statements ever uttered on the topic of parenting. “There is no more somber enemy of good art,” the great Cyril Connolly said in his book Enemies of Promise, “than the pram in the hall.” Having kids gets in the way, he was saying. It inhibits the creativity and ruins the careers of great writers, painters, filmmakers, and poets. One imagines, if we zoom ahead to today, nearly 90 years after Connolly first wrote those words, he would also have included entrepreneurs and leaders on his list of the afflicted.

Now, we’ve said many times here that this doesn’t need to be true. Kids can make you better, more creative, more disciplined, more balanced. Still, let’s look at that quote again, because maybe there is another way to read it. Cyril was speaking of the stroller in the hallway–it’s a vivid metaphor evoking the crowded New York City apartment so choked with life and stuff and responsibilities, that its four walls can no longer contain it and things have begun to spill out into the entryway.

But there is ​a story we’ve written about​ the writer Susan Straight that is worth referring back to. As a young, struggling novelist, she would walk her daughter in the Riverside, California heat until she fell asleep. For naps. At night. It was the only way she could get her down. And the second she drifted off, Straight would stop wherever they were, sit on the curb next to the stroller and write in her notebook. She finished an entire novel that way.

Maybe the problem then is not the stroller…but the stroller in the hall. Maybe what she’s telling us is that we have to get out there and get active. Parents have to ​look for the double opportunities​—the ways to spend time with your kid and do what you need to do. Take them to work with you. Take them on trips with you. Take them to exercise with you.

Jammed together in a tiny living space, maybe that feels like the enemy of good art and accomplishing great things. Or maybe it’s that thinking about them as connected is the real problem. It’s not because you’re stuck here in this apartment with these kids that you haven’t written your novel or your business plan; it’s because you haven’t allowed your life and your kids to be part of the process of creating great things.

Walking them to school is part of the process. Cleaning up their toys in the living room is part of the process. Taking them for drives until they fall asleep—part of the process. These are the double opportunities. To do what you’ve got to do, and to pursue who you want to become. To take care of your kids, and to nurture your dream.

Kids don’t get in the way, they are the way.

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