fbpx Parenting and Playwriting | HowlRound Theatre Commons

Parenting and Playwriting

A couple of years ago, I had a meeting with a Very Important Person at a Very Important Theatre in Manhattan. We discussed many things, and while this VIP was supportive, insightful, and generally wise and experienced, he also told me that women stop writing plays after they have babies. I swallowed down my ire at the time, left the meeting, and proceeded to complain to all my theatre friends about how sexist and chauvinistic the American theatre is, because, of course, complaining to one's friends is much easier than confronting one's colleagues. Since then, I've had two babies in three years, and if I could revisit my earlier self sitting in that meeting at that Very Important Theatre, I would whisper in her ear: stop your kvetching, he's right.

At least he's right when you're a playwright who makes $16,000/year. I also suspect it's not just women playwrights who stop writing, or more accurately, write less, once the babies arrive, but theater artists of either sex who have partners with more traditional jobs and benefits, because at the end of the day, the person providing most of the childcare is going to be the person who makes $16,000/year. As for the single artists out there raising children on $16,000/year, my hat goes off to you. You deserve a medal. I don't know how you do it. In fact, my problem is: I don't know how anyone does it. Yes, it's a problem of time; one can't afford much daycare on $16,000/year, but moreover, it's a problem of headspace.

For what is writing if not the chronicling of accumulated experience run through the imagination and senses?

When I was in graduate school, my friend Brad and I skipped out on a writing seminar to drink martinis one afternoon. I admit, I've always been a straight-laced kinda gal and couldn't shrug off the guilt long enough to really enjoy myself. When Brad asked me what my problem was, I told him, “I should be writing.” He responded: “This is writing.” Now I suppose if drinking martinis were really writing, we'd all be fabulous, accomplished authors, which clearly, we are not; however, I understood the essence of his statement. Drinking martinis is not writing. But drinking martinis, served by an inept bartender with a birthmark running the length of his face, who may or may not have been weeping behind the bar as we entered, with our feet propped up on chairs, sitting on a patio in Athens, Georgia, in mid-September, listening to the cackle of falling leaves is writing. For what is writing if not the chronicling of accumulated experience run through the imagination and senses? It might follow, therefore, that having children, which is one gigantic act of accumulated experience, if nothing else, should expand one's imagination and senses enough to make one a better writer, in the way that any life-altering experience might make one a better writer.

I, for one, am still waiting.

Parenting small children is many things. It is a reminder of the essence of things, for one. I had forgotten the wonder of the butterfly until my eldest, Sophie, was able to name a butterfly for the first time and chase it around the yard. In fact, I have no memory of ever marveling at the butterfly the way Sophie marveled and imagine the only time I ever did so was when I, too, was two years old and naming things. A particular joy of parenting is thus remembering marvels you witnessed when your brain was too unformed to capture them properly. You get to revisit this forgotten self and see the world anew. It's wonderful.

If you inventory all the plays ever written about parents parenting small children you will quickly come to the same conclusion I have, which is this: all of the truly interesting and great plays about babies are about dead babies.

Multiple actors clutch a brightly lit woman onstage.
Alexandra Deshorties as Medea with the Argonauts in The Glimmerglass Festival's
production of Cherubini's Medea, 2011. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

Parenting small children is also fucking boring, and I'll spare you the list of why parenting small children is boring, because if you have children you already know why and if you don't, well, you'd stop reading this, because it suddenly got boring. So here's the quandary for the parent-playwright: neither wonder nor boredom are dramatically interesting in and of themselves (unless you're Samuel Beckett, and sadly, I am not). In fact, if you inventory all the plays ever written about parents parenting small children you will quickly come to the same conclusion I have, which is this: all of the truly interesting and great plays about babies are about dead babies.

I'm not saying, of course, that one of my children needs to die for me to write an effective play about being a parent. I'm not that literal, thank God, but there exists a great chasm between the drama of losing a child and the comedy of raising one, and I find myself stuck in the middle. I'm really not in the mood to adapt Medea at the moment, but Bringing up Baby holds even less appeal. How can I turn my mind from childish things in that narrow window I have when Sophie is in pre-school and the baby naps, when there's a dirty diaper in the sink, half-eaten breakfast on the table, and “wheels on the bus” playing over and over and over again somewhere in the background? The truth is, I can't, not really, not unless I've had time elsewhere in the day to prep my mind, to tune it towards other things; in short, to daydream.

A black and white photo of Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant.
Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby (1938).

I didn't know how essential daydreaming was to my process until I had children. I didn't know that all that time spent padding about the house in my underwear, taking long walks, soaking in the tub, staring at the ceiling, indeed, drinking martinis in the afternoon, was so important. Being the goal-oriented, five-pages-a-day gal that I am, I just thought I was procrastinating. Yet two babies later, I find I need those hours of procrastination like an alcoholic from Georgia needs Jimmy Beam. I long for them while wiping bottoms clean; I yearn for them while sucking the snot out of little noses; and I crave them most of all when the baby uncaps all of her sister's markers and bites off all of the tips, turning her mouth and face into a Jackson Pollack painting. For I've discovered it's in those hours of idle doing that the subconscious does the heavy lifting of generation.

I've had to become crafty about re-claiming idleness, because apparently, partners in child raising aren't too crazy about seeing their counterparts laze about, but I've found a couple of hidden corners. The first isn't too surprising: I joined a gym with a daycare. I'm not sure what it says about our society that it's cheaper to join a gym with daycare, than just to pay for daycare, but it is, at least in my neck of the woods. At my gym, a nice woman will my watch my two children in a clean and colorful play center for $1.50/hr. Yes, you read that correctly, and no, I don't live in New York. And while this nice woman (at least I hope she's nice, I'm choosing to believe she's nice) watches my children, I swim laps.

Let me be the first to tell you, I'm a crappy swimmer. I don't know how to breathe properly, and so I always feel like I'm drowning a little when swimming freestyle. When I do backstroke, I can't swim straight and swerve between the lane ropes like a fourteen-year-old driver. My breaststroke keeps me afloat but barely moving forward, and the elderly overtake me embarrassingly often. But swimming is a gestational goldmine. It's warm and womblike, soundless save the splashing of your own toes. And most importantly, all that leftover baby fat finally goes to good purpose: it keeps you afloat.

I've also taken over washing the dishes. The feminist in me is fairly mortified by this turn of events, because I am the cook in the house as well, and the fact that every night I do both the cooking and the cleaning up makes part of me want to scream and take to the street, burning bra in hand. But here's the thing: if I wash the dishes, he has to watch the kids. And if he's watching the kids, then I can let my mind rest and expand and ruminate. To draw it out, sometimes I don't even use the dishwasher. Let's keep that to ourselves, shall we?

That I should be using dishwashing as a creative outlet astounds me and yet I embrace it. I look forward to it. I love staring at the patch of mint outside my window and the cracked ceiling above my head. I love feeling the soft pine underfoot, sticky from the day's juice. There's a pair of crooked shelves to my left that someone mis-hung long ago. Maybe it was the Honorable Judge who lived in my house some time ago, the one who left town in disgrace, because his son slipped mercury into his teacher's coffee (true story). Maybe it was his widow. All I know is that sink holds stories along with the dishes and debris, and I want to stand there, every evening, listening. In fact, it's almost as good as drinking a martini in the afternoon.

But not quite.


Bookmark this page

Log in to add a bookmark
Thoughts from the curator

A series on balancing responsibilities as a working playwright and as a parent.

Parenting & Playwriting


Add Comment

The article is just the start of the conversation—we want to know what you think about this subject, too! HowlRound is a space for knowledge-sharing, and we welcome spirited, thoughtful, and on-topic dialogue. Find our full comments policy here

Newest First

In one of John Gardner's books on fiction writing, he recounts how William Faulkner's wife (whose first name I am ashamed not to know, but refuse on principle to just Google it) used to harass her famous husband as he lazed around the porch, smoking and rocking in the rocking chair. She kept telling him to get back to work. His reply, if I recall, was, "I AM working."

I admit to having always been suspicious of both Faulkner and this anecdote. Sure, writing requires down time, but it also requires maximum effort. It's the combination that kicks out writing worth a public airing, be it plays or anything else. In raising my kids, now eleven and seven, I find it easy to make space for either one of those two polar opposites (the lazing and the hands-on-keyboard writing). Finding time for both, even with both boys in school? That's harder.

Harder still: fitting in time for appropriately thorough research.

Hardest of all: on-site research. I have writer friends sans children who have decamped to foreign climes, distant cities, weird experiences, etc., and come home so full of ideas it's a wonder they don't burst. The number of parent-writers who can pull this off is itsy-bitsy small.

There. Now you know I'm a parent, 'cos I used the word itsy-bitsy in a grown-up sentence.

Has my writing improved since having children? Yes. Has it improved BECAUSE of having children? Frankly, I sincerely doubt it. Is it a question that needs a solid answer? No. Life is messy; solid ground and firm answers are fleeting.

Now, I really must stop writing this...I have to go clean the house (with my kids, hah!), and then it'll be time to play with them, feed them, and find an hour in the afternoon to send a play to some poor unsuspecting literary manager. Who is probably single and twenty-three years old.

: )

Cheers to one and all - M.R.

Loved "hearing" your voice. Full of good stuff, as you always were full of good stuff. ;o)

As I often tell myself and others, we gotta just keep on keepin' on. xoxo

Thanks for taking the time to write this for us when you could have spent the time doing something
nice and much needed for yourself. It was generous of you. And so great to see the parent/
playwright experience discussed not only in your brave and honest essay but all of the comments
following, too. There are a lot of us struggling with versions of this reality.
(I''m a playwright and my daughter is a year and 1/2.) But I feel like a much richer person
and artist since becoming a parent, although, yes, maybe not quite as productive.
Have to run now and try and get a couple of pages written while I can still keep my eyes open...
deadlines breathing down my neck and she'll be up at 6:30...

THANK YOU!!! And yes, yes, yes to the dishes. I do the same. My daughter is disabled, and so at 6 is still very much like a 2-year-old, and it hasn’t gotten better – it just keeps staying the same! While this stinks in many ways, I have had to learn how to make it write because the day isn’t going to come where she runs off to play with her friends or can just read on her own or whatever other kids do.

I wrote my first play A.N. (after Noa) when she started going to therapy for 3 hours a day, 3 days a week. I would drop her off and go to a nearby Barnes and Noble with my computer and write. Since I knew my brain was dead, I started off working on an adaptation. My brain was SOOO dead that I just started out by pretty much transcribing the entire play so I could get it into my body. And I gave myself a deadline: the end of my daughter’s semester of therapy. I used to “need” 8 hours to get myself in the right head space, but I got over that because I had to.

Yes it is far harder to write; to find the time and the brain space. Every day I tell myself I’m going to write after I put my daughter to bed, and every night after I put her to bed my brain click off like it was on a timer – and it’s very hard to find theaters and residencies willing to work with a primary parent. Wish I had an answer, but I can say that - although I write less, I think I write stuff that is stronger (I don't have time to mess around!) and... “I feel ya’!”

I add my thanks and appreciation for this article. So much that I relate to--in fact I had to chuckle about the dishes thing because I do the same thing. It's a surreal world I'm living in where doing housework feels like "time to myself"...as does grocery shopping and even going to work.

Four years after having my first child, the full reality of what I have signed on for (and given up) is hitting me. Maybe because, after a period of just not writing very much or wanting to, I suddenly have a lot to say. Now that my kids sleep through the night, I find myself staying up way too late--the only time I can carve out for writing. Hello sleep deprivation, my old friend.

Hooray for all of us who, somehow, have NOT stopped writing after kids.

I love that you shared this. I've been the primary caregiver for our two kids since they were babies, and I can definitely relate to all of what you wrote. For me, when they were little, I missed that daydreaming time, but I also learned to write without it. I became so much more focused and disciplined, because I had no choice. I might only have an hour to write before they woke up, or during nap time, so I had to learn to just write, at that very moment.

As everyone has said, it does get a bit better, in terms of physical demands and time, especially once they're in school (mine are 11 and 16 now). The big development workshops are definitely nearly impossible to consider while the kids are little, and so is other extensive travel, which can make career development move a lot slower. A LOT slower, because you without some of those chances, you can't get the money you would need to pay for child care, and you get caught in a loop. This is unfortunate, because I think our artform loses something if the people most frequently produced on our stages rarely are people who have gone through this essential part of life.

Two boys, 3 months and 4 years old, plus a full time job and a half.

It took a while to readjust to the shattered writing time, but what's more interesting has been the shift in subject matter. Still angry, but at new things and in new ways.

I'm posting a second comment because it occurs to me that your kids aren't old enough yet for you to have fully experienced how CRAZY some other parents are when it comes to their brilliant and exceptional offspring. There are a thousand plays in that material. Maybe a million. No dead children needed for that.

And one more thing on the swimming - the reason I suggested fins for kick laps is that if you don't wear them, you might not go anywhere. I didn't use a kick board for years because I was so embarrassed at how slowly I went. Now, I just zoom, zoom, zoom!

Thank you, Catherine, for putting how I’ve felt into eloquent and amusing words.

We don’t all stop writing after becoming mothers or fathers, but the obstacles certainly multiply like so many dirty diapers. (“I swear the bin was empty just this morning!”)

I spent my pregnancy worried I’d never write again. Then I realized it wasn’t that I’d never write again, it was that I’d never write in the same WAY again. My process, as I’d honed it, was over. A few months after my son was born, I started writing in short bursts: during his morning nap here, his afternoon nap there, and for a half hour after his bedtime, if I had the energy. If I didn’t, I sat with my notebook open and pen in my hand and said, “Just think.” And sometimes, something would come. It wasn’t much of a process, but it was mine, all mine, which I treasured because, Amen, Catherine, raising small children can be more mind-numbing than many of us would like to admit.

Sort of like your swimming, my savior was my commute. Forty minutes, twice a day, three times a week, I sat on train heading into or out of NYC, and I wrote/daydreamed. These were the days before smart phones and WiFi, so internet-as-distraction wasn’t even an option. Heaven. Okay, sometimes I napped instead, but again: notebook, open, on my lap. Just in case.

As Joanna Settle said, as your kids grow, some of your time does become your own again, though no matter age they are, there’s always something to work around. My son is in middle school now and I’ve long since left the commuting job. Being away from home for ten hours a day finally no longer jived with my growing son’s school/camp/vacation schedule. (Daycare never closes, but school does.) It became too difficult to juggle motherhood, job-with-commute and writing. The writing was always the first thing to drop from the list, and I couldn’t bear to do that anymore. And, yes, I do think about the opportunities I’ve had to pass on—even apply for—due to raising a child. I can only hope it means I’ve had to take this writing career thing at a slower pace and that my work ultimately benefits and will benefit from it.

I don’t know about motherhood making one a better writer because of the life-altering nature of the experience, but I will say kids are such honest observers. They see things in a way we can’t or don’t want to see, and they’ve got no problem telling you about it, flat out. Kids are naturals at showing you there’s always another way to see a situation and wow has that ability been invaluable when I sit back down at my writing desk, a desk which not surprisingly does double duty as my son’s homework area.

I've gone from my ignoring the adage “sleep when the baby sleeps” to my son at four years old banging on a keyboard and exclaiming, “I’m writing like Mommy!” to him now debating with me about which plays of mine he thinks are better than others (seriously, everybody’s a critic). I love the intelligent, open-minded, art-appreciating young man he is becoming, and I’m proud of the mother I am for him. The real adage to go by is, “When Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

Nice insights. I can't wait to see the play about the honorable judge's slanted shelves. But why wasn't I invited to martinis; did I go to the writing seminar? Some good it did me--I had no children AND stopped writing plays! Post Ph.D. and pre-tenure, academia can gobble creative selves up like children chew markers. I clink a toast against your stemmed glass cone, extra dirty, with double olives: salud!


I love this. I left NY when I was expecting and I am in Raleigh NC. I am a member of a theater company here, and since having my 2 1/2 year old, I can't even commit to an audition. Because you are right, there is no time or head space for daydreaming to be creative in a directed way towards a project. I am hoping soon though. Love that you described this so thoughtfully, honestly, and with humor. Thanks!

Emily, although that comment really did land badly, in his defense, I do think he meant it more as a cultural critique; ie, women still unfortunately get stuck with the majority of the domestic duties and therefore, don't have as much time to write, vs. women stop writing b/c they've found their higher calling after babies.

It only took me 9 days to come up with the perfect comeback:

"Maybe we slow down a little to raise our children, but we statistically live longer, so when we get back to it, we have more and better things to say."

Thanks again for speaking out on this topic. We have to keep nudging the culture in the direction of greater equality for all.

It still bugs me that you were actually told, by a male in power in professional theatre, "that women stop writing plays after they have babies." He wasn't right. Not all women stop writing after giving birth. That's just plain sexist. I just can't let go of these little insipid sexist remarks. They're wrong and they just plain suck.

When we first moved to San Francisco and our son was a year old, I worked nights at a restaurant, my wife worked days at a housing rights organization. In the beginning of the days at home with my son I was far from my work in the theater. To defeat the entropy of hours in each day I poured myself into a mayoral campaign where having my son on my back was an asset to the candidate. When the campaign had ended, during one of my son's particularly auspicious naps, I sat down and wrote myself a letter, asking me "If you took all the energy you just gave to that campaign and gave it to yourself to make what you mean and become who you mean to be, what would you make and who would you become?" I wrote myself an answer as well, and it exactly described what became the Z Collective. So, through a long series of midday naps (sorry, Eben-- those naps you were taking were more for my benefit than yours...), I slowly built that company. We had the meetings in our house during the naps. I wrote press releases and business plans and even adapted a Dario Fo play for us to perform-- during the naps. I highly recommend developing, in the kids, a strong capacity for napping.

One day, Eben went off to school for half a day. The next day he was going all day. The next he was off to college. And all the way through we were both becoming the people we were aiming to be.

It goes fast. It requires patience. It requires love. It requires forgiveness. It requires discipline. It requires generosity. It requires everything. But it returns so much more than it asks and when you meet the people they become, and they meet the person you mean now to be, there will be a sense of wonder at the order of the universe, Catherine.

Thanks for writing. See what you made?

This is exactly right, and I don't know you but you must be a brilliant writer to be able to describe this so well while you're still at the center of it. Thank you.

As a dad who has been the primary caregiver for his kids all along, I can't tell you how wonderful this has been to read.

I too started writing just when my first was born. I liken it to having twins: The blank page, the new mind -- both demanding everything from you while simultaneously draining you dry. (And often not making you feel so good about yourself in the process ...)

I think I might have been the first man to have had post partem. The exhaustion, loss of identity, the lack of role models -- who wouldn't get depressed?

As the kids got older, something ferocious in me MADE me write. A survival instinct, I guess, to learn who I was. And year after year, the writing has really helped knit me back together.

But so have my kids. The older they get the more they (unknowingly) challenge me to face myself and account for who I am. Like twins, the kids/writing both demand of me to not feel sorry for myself or ruminate, but rather push myself to do better by both of them.

Who could have known, years ago, as I lay exhausted on my kitchen floor, sucking a frozen bagel waiting for my wife to get home from work (the kids quietly playing Lego) that I would come, in time, to owe all of them for helping make me who I am. And who I am becoming.

Also totally agree about the difficulty in going away for development opportunities. (Do ANY of them offer daycare?) I'm sure it's slowed me down professionally. And many of my plays have parents and kids in them. I'm sure that, too, makes my work difficult to produce. But so what? I wouldn't have it any other way. My plays -- and kids -- expect no less of me.

Thanks again, everyone!

Let me be the second dad to let you know that women are not alone. My wife is also a performing artist, and raising two children (both toddlers) requires an enormous amount of energy, not to mention money. My wife and I give each other several hours on the weekends of working time (for we both have day jobs as well, and day care to pay for). We don't have to "get our partners" to do anything; we try to provide each other with that breathing and working space to the best of our ability.

But it is true that I haven't written a new play since the first of our children was born, which is about three years now, and I don't know when I'll do so again. (This Thursday will mark the first time I've been in a theatre for months.) The networking and institutional connections required to maintain a career in the theatre are better suited to those who are childless.

This is great - thank you. I was beginning to think i was alone with my screaming feminist self in the bad attempts of balancing family, house hold duties, childcare, artistic career and paying job. Just wonder... how do you get your partner to actually take care of the kids while you do the dishes? or allow you the time to go to the Y?

I am a new Dad.
My wife has her own small business, and we both seek our own creative space/time amidst the wonderful and challenging life changes of late.

I am joining the Y today, and will start swimming again soon. Childcare provided.
Thanks for the great topic of conversation for our family, and the advice.

I adored this post. I have two young children of my own, and stepped down from an Artistic Director position to be more present for them. My inner feminist is howling right along with you. And now the theater has closed its doors and I am left to fend for myself in the world of freelancing, which is both horrifying and thrilling. This post touches on so many things that I think about, worry about, consider on a daily basis.

Thank you--friends and strangers alike--for all the lovely feedback! You all have my made my day. I'm so tickled that I got some swimming advice, along with all the encouragement.

Very nice piece!

I'm gonna resist the urge to write on and on and on about my experiences as a director and mother and just send one word of optimism your way:

Some day they will both be in school!
hang in there - it gets a little easier to carve it out time in a few years. Though of course waiting YEARS for time to yourself can feel like being down the rabbit hole with no way out. But you get 8:30am - 3pm, often til 5 or 6 with enriching after school programs that are affordable, and you have at least a shot (amid the exhaustion, school holidays, colds and the unexpected) to lay on the floor and think.

Downtime is key, and it WILL be back!

Anyone else noticing that all of the respondents are female?

I, like many others, left acting for a steadier income, luckily still in the theatre where my creativity was allowed to flourish. My husband stayed on the boards, and did the bulk of our daycare and carpoolong around his performance schedule with a lot of help from our friends. We've raised a pretty great, smart, funny, thoughtful son who at one point in his life thought that everyone in the world worked at some theatre or another. He has a scar above his eye that he proudly tells came into being while a Cagelle in full drag was babysitting him in a dressing room, and a thousand stories about what happened at this rehearsal, that performance or backstage. He's on a first name basis with Pulitzer, Tony, Emmy and Academy Award winners, and he also knows all about unemployment, the perils of being a regional theatre artist and how to calculate Equity weeks for insurance.

Catherine, your beautiful daughters will benefit from your experiences with them, and theirs with you. I promise it gets easier. Hunter is 16 and a half now, at the top of his class and at ease in the world. There's only one problem with him: he can't decide if he wants to be an actor or a playwright. There goes my retirement fund...

I actually STARTED writing after I had children. I needed a way to stay involved and doing theatre but was unable to do the out of house time required. I could, however, write a little bit every day and that first year after my first son I wrote my first play. I may not produced as much, but it actually worked for my new schedule.

Family time is antithetical to creative time. I wish that wasn't true, but it is. I'm a mom to a first grader and I work full-time to provide health insurance for my family. After an initial dip in writing output, I'm happy to say my productivity is on the rise. Getting out and about and having those martinis/open time? Much harder to pull off.

Hi, Catherine. I would have read your article about parenting and play-writing, but I was too busy nagging my 14-year old to quit texting and do his homework.

I loved this article.


Evelyn Jean Pine

Catherine--I usually never comment on this. But thanks for writing this. You ARE right--parenting in America is extremely difficult regardless of gender and YES we need head space to daydream and tell stories. I like the others could go on and on--and my kids are now 5 and 8--so I can go on and on a little bit, but not much because they are up for school in 10 minutes.

thanks again

Andrea Stolowitz

This is terrific. I miss daydreaming. I also miss the essential procrastination - reading books and watching movies - that I rarely have time for. But this is a lovely truthful piece.

Thanks for your honesty.

Much of my own struggle as a mother/writer is allowing myself that downtime. But what you do gain as a mother is discipline. Could I have written more plays not raising kids? Maybe, but I don't think they'd be any better than the ones I wrote, which were born out of the "accumulated experience" of bringing human beings into the world and trying to teach them how to have compassion, strength, love, curiosity, while keeping them safe, and yourself sane, and maintaining adult relationships at the same time. I have found lots of fodder in allthat. What motherhood does get in the way of is developing the career, going to the O'Neill for instance, how many mothers can leave their kids for a month?

There are a lot of great plays about being a mother...they're just not widely produced. But that's another story.

Dear Catherine,

I enjoyed, make that adored, your piece. I could go on and on about it in detail, but I realize you don't have time for that. Two children in three years? Yikes. You will be happy you did this later because they will have each other, but I digress.

I am writing to offer a tiny practical swimming tip that will enhance your daydreaming ability while in the water. Until swimming freestyle becomes second nature and breathing a cinch, purchase a pair of fins - the short ones are best to maximize the work you have to do - and get a kick board. Do laps of kicking and daydream away while you burn off the baby fat.

They grow up and you get your head space back. I promise.

Thanks again for sharing this!

All best to you,


I'm really glad you wrote this. Honest. Brave. The years I had small children and trying to figure out how to be a single parent are just a blur. Mine are now teenagers and still I long for those hours to just putter, follow a thought, pick up another one, brood, write.

In the quest to earn a living, support a family, work at things outside writing, I have written very few plays in the past ten years. I've directed more because I've found that comes from a different part of my brain and is a concentrated burst and you have lots of people to help.

Once I was asked what I thought had been good training for directing and I said, without sarcasm, raising children because you get good at functioning with no sleep, you gain an ability to make decisions while people are screaming at you, and you learn that most things can be solved with a time out, goldfish and a juicebox.

I try to think, and I do believe this, that the stories that will emerge and the writers we will be will be richer for the messiness of a full messy lived life.


Dear Catherine,
Thanks for the truth telling. I love cleaning up and lap swimming as well. I also use the stroller and long walks for similar purposes (although not a writer but still in need of dreaming while awake time).

Hello, Catherine, my friend. Come back to DC and we'll share a nanny. If we split the cost...sigh. As you know, it doesn't work that way.

There is, sadly, nothing in me to suggest: no sage piece of advice whatsoever. If you read my HowlRound piece from not too long ago, Losing My Insomnia, you know I sympathize, and perhaps in the end that is all there is. That and the hope of making it until school begins,by which time I will probably be pining for my son to be a baby again.

Thanks, as always, for your eloquence.

Subscribe to HowlRound

Sign up for our daily, weekly, or quarterly emails so you never miss the latest theatre conversations.

Sign me up

Supporting HowlRound

We fundraise to keep all our programs free and open and to pay our contributors. Thank you to all who make our work possible!

Donate today