Note – I do know a few men in the industry who have sole custody of their children and face many of the same issues.
After the birth of my daughters, I took some time off and did not work at all. As reality sunk in, I came to realize that touring was going to be difficult if not impossible. I thought about going back to school and getting a teaching degree – still one of the professions that allows for a schedule to be with your kids. I eventually returned to Los Angeles and took on a general manager role at Rat Sound – which really was doing a bit of everything, similar to what I did before but kept me off the road.
It was pretty great for awhile – I was able to achieve a balance between work and raising my daughters. Then the Chili Peppers launched a 17 month world tour, which I turned down. It took a while for this sink in, as I embraced my new life – I came to really miss being on the road and I wrestled with this for a while – but there did not seem to be any option. I started to work local shows again, but this I found pretty difficult to balance – the long hours, the child care bill, trying to function as a zombie the next day.
Then I was offered REM and I was determined to do it – I did not know how I was going to make it work – but I knew I wanted that gig. After many discussions with the girls dad, we came up with a game plan to make it work. In the end, the gig ended up falling thru as they wanted a FOH and Monitor team, engineers that had worked together for several years. My team was Brett Eliason (PJ FOH Engineer) and he could not do the tour.
It ended up being for the best – as parents we had worked out what we were comfortable with, what I needed to be happy, and what we felt was best for the girls.
It basically broke down to:
- That yes, the girls would be okay with a nanny or my sister taking care of them if we were both touring.
- That ten days was about the amount of time – they could be without one parent. (This some how worked out for a long time – as our tour schedules did not overlap very much).
- I would limit myself for the time being to touring with Pearl Jam – as they did not tour that much, there were long breaks in between legs, and they typically did not go out for more than 5 – 6 weeks per leg.
- The RHCP were touring with a schedule of three weeks on, two weeks off.
And that is what we did for years – still do – but now they are self sufficient and I think look forward to us being on the road. The girls had an extended family that they felt safe with and were loved. It also made them independent. Plus they got to travel with us several times and got to see some cool places.
Of course, this would not have been possible without a father that was willing to be a full time dad. I think this made him a better father – and the girls were bonded to both parents. We both made sacrifices to do this – There were tours turned down on both sides, mixing challenges and experiences that were missed. Yet, when I was home it was 24/7 and for every championship softball game I missed – I was there for most of the season.
I guess what I am trying to share is that you can be a mom and have a career in audio. It is not going to be easy, but life is not easy. You might choose to work a constant theater gig over touring, or work part time doing local shows for a sound company. You might switch to an AV gig. Even with the sacrifices made – I always felt it was better than working a 9-5 job with the kids in daycare. And I still got the rush of working a live concert. Would I have followed the path I did without kids – I will never know.
I would love to hear how others have balanced this or are attempting to.