I recently spoke with someone who piped my interest in a concept, mother’s who work. Seems there is always someone with an opinion about that subject. However, it’s not something that is much discussed in the audio engineering world. There simply aren’t too many of us. I thought I could give some insight into how I’ve seen myself in this mother/audio engineer role and how that relates to society and how you can form your feelings and thoughts on the matter.
I have two children under ten, I graduated college with a bachelor’s and now I’ve been working as a freelancing audio engineer for over eight years. With these experiences I think you can look on the subject of motherhood in this industry in a couple different lights. One thing I hear from folks who have children, “how can it be done?” I like to respond with the question, “how do nurses and ER doctors function and have kids?” I was also a single mother for five years of my audio career. Can you have kids and be in this industry? Absolutely. Can you be single and have kids in this industry? Absolutely.
I hear folks say, aren’t you away from home too much? There is a yes and no answer here. This can vary in how you feel as a parent and how you’ve conditioned your kids to function. I grew up respecting that my father had to work, I respected that was his duty. When I was younger he was in the military, there was duty. He got out and that idea stuck. The same way if I am off work for a week I can’t just keep my kids home from school. It’s their duty to go to school. Its my responsibility to let them go. Just as it’s a child’s responsibility to grow with an understanding and respect that you are not “leaving” them.
Something I want to really stick with fellow parents in this industry is, yes, you will miss events. You aren’t alone. If you left this industry, you will still miss events. There is no magic wand where if you wave it you won’t miss things. You’re job as a parent is to lead your children to understand they are important regardless of events or activities in their life.
Recently I gave a parent advice that if they couldn’t find support within our industry that they could try to find it outside of it. This business tends to lend itself to the idea that we are rare and so unique a regular person couldn’t relate to us. I disagree, there are working parents in all sorts of fields who are gone frequently (IT, Medical, PR, Service Industry, etc.).
“But, how do you do it?” I like to agree with what several other mother audio engineer’s say, “you just do.” How do you get chaotic festival stage going? By doing it. There is no magic answer. It’s like freelancing. I get asked a lot “how do you find your gigs?” I don’t know, I just do.
Another light I like to look at this in is, entrepreneurship. We are our own business. There are small business owners out there who also face all of the same problems we as audio engineers do. You have to learn how to adapt and how to plan. Maybe one day they have to close up because their kids are sick and they have no one able to come in. Maybe one day you have to stop doing your gig because your kid is sick, disabled, in trouble. Maybe that happens. But maybe you don’t have any kids and you one day get disabled, in trouble, or sick? These variables exist already in our life. The difference is once you have children you plan, you think through the day, the week, your year. You think through as many what ifs as you can.
I had someone else recently who also said to me, “young people in the music business aren’t planning to have kids.” What they thought that meant was, you can’t have kids and be motivated, career oriented, and successful in audio engineering. Statistically more and more young professionals are waiting to have children. This isn’t only in our industry. This is throughout society. A parent’s life in this industry may follow a different curve than a single person’s. But, as is said, “a gig is a gig.” If you’re spending too much time worrying what you won’t have as a parent, you wont be as successful as a parent or an audio engineer. We are all unique, but as a parent you bring an edge that no none person can. You learn how to be professional on a show and still continue to juggle all the balls.
When the show is over and a happy attendee comes up to you, “Wow! How did you get all those complex things to happen?!” You will stand there and think of all the crazy complex interpersonal and technical things you just made happen. Then you’ll just say, “It’s my job, I just did it. I made it happen with hard work.” That is exactly how motherhood is.
Aubrey Caudill lives in the Dallas Fort Worth area and works as a freelance audio engineer. She currently works for several area wedding bands and runs monitors at The Potter’s House North Dallas. She is also a mother to two boys.