The new school year seems like a good moment to post about my new life here in the city of brotherly love. I made a decision to keep a low profile online and particularly on my website over the last year so consider this an overdue update to my friends and readers as well as an introduction to those of you who are just becoming aware of me through my occasional appearances here in my home base.
With Jessica being the primary breadwinner (she’s juggling her PAFA job with her popular online courses like the Creative Focus Workshop while at the same time wrapping up the third and final volume of Trish Trash: Rollergirl of Mars), I have found myself in the role of full-time homemaker. This decision is largely practical—there’s just no way Jessica can do more than she’s already doing and since I don’t have a regular job it makes sense for me to take over the family stuff (in fact I’ve been doing most of it for several years)—but it’s also in part because I feel like I’ve hit a career wall that has left me discouraged and at a loss as to how I can ever make a living doing the stuff I love to do. (Again, just take a look around online and you’ll see that I have a lot of company in this conundrum). It’s not that I ever expected to be able to sit around and do nothing but make experimental comics (though how I’d love to!), it’s that I’ve been putting on all kinds of hats over the last 20 years to make a living—translation, comic book coloring, editing, writing textbooks, and above all, teaching—and none of those “responsible” and “real” jobs have lead to anything more than a measly adjunct professor’s level of existence. I am lucky to have the pressure taken off of me for a few years so that I can attempt to ease back into the working world on terms that I’m happy with. And I’m aware of how fortunate I am to have the leisure to even think about this stuff—this is not an I-hate-my-life post by any means.
Matt Fallaize says
A lot of this rings true with me. Whilst I do the day job full time, my wife is the main breadwinner (and has been for about fifteen years), it used to grate, which I’m not proud of. The odd hours of my work mean I’m generally the one at the school gate, and it seems strange that I almost feed the urge to justify myself to the mums (I’m generally the only male) “I do stuff, too!” The writing gets fitted in where it can. best of luck with your move, and finding the right balance
Nancy Ethiel says
I hear your pain, but I also know that not only are you a great husband and father, but also a terrific cartoonist. I take pleasure every day from my framed picture of “The Republic of Matt” soaring above “The United States of Jessica.” I also know from being a single mother how hard it is to take care of kids while trying to do the work I want– and need–to do. The best thing I can offer is the promise that as the kids grow older, they will also grow more independent (though you may well find that you sometimes miss the closeness you once had with them).
You’re doing a great job as a father–and as a cartoonist. And sooner than you can imagine, they will have flown the nest.
So, I guess the best advice I can offer is to hang in there. It will be worth it.
Anna Moriarty Lev says
Great post, Matt. As an artist/stay-at-home-parent myself, these are all things I think about daily. Thanks for sharing.
John Heon says
First of all, thanks for your inspiring reflections upon your experiences and that gem of a Sorrentino quotation: “It is the artist who lives the non artistic life who is most aware of his painfully absurd position.” At times, I think that being a parent under just about any circumstances can be painfully absurd, but being an artist/intellectual and a parent raises it to the nth degree. In the US in particular, we live in a society that creates a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation for both men and women when it comes to parenting and career demands. What’s actually absurd is that women and men, especially in America, are told by media and society that they are supposed to “have it all, do it all, be it all”–or be considered a failure. I say this as the father of two wonderful kids and as a guy who has, over the years, occupied just about every point on the spectrum from primary breadwinner to primary parent. I’m currently back in the primary breadwinner role, and, yes, would like to have more time to be a dad; of course, when it was the other way around, I was repeatedly told, either directly or indirectly, that I was not being a “real” man because I was spending about two thirds of my time taking care of my kid and the other third writing fiction and poetry and finishing a PhD. Those research fellowship stipends, even when they’re good ones, just don’t cut it in terms of financial virility here in the good old US of A. Being a parent may be painfully absurd, but it’s also undeniably one of the most noble, beautiful, and creative things one can do–as you’ve proven. Until we live in a society that understands and truly values that, both mothers and fathers will continue suffer from these idiotically unrealistic and hypocritical attitudes.
Cheers, and perseverance,
Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, everyone!