Work and family. Assassinations and PTA. Can you have it all? K. A. Doore, author of The Perfect Assassin and The Impossible Contract (coming in November!), has the advice you need to balance murder and family life.
By K. A. Doore
Sleep when baby sleeps, they say.
Piss off, I say.
I mean, nobody says cry when baby cries or eat when baby eats or surveil your mark while baby surveils you. Wait. Maybe I do say that last bit.
Remember: children are always watching. Sure, they don’t seem like they’re listening, but they learn everything from you. So if your ten-year-old can’t sharpen a knife properly, that’s on you.
Right. Where was I? Helpful tips for getting blood off your walls? Five ways you can kill a man with a pacifier? Tips and tricks for composting bones?
No, that’s the easy stuff. The things you knew from before, if you were paying any attention at all in your classes, and you were, weren’t you? The harder stuff, those are the things you have to experience yourself. How do you balance your family and your work as a professional assassin, when your work can happen at any time and take you anywhere? When it involves a fair amount of practice and dedication that you can’t just drop because you had a baby?
Oh sure, you could stop working. But some of us still have to put food on the table, and taking a contract not only pays for this lavish lifestyle of cold coffee and toast, but it also gets us out of the house. You’ll understand the necessity of having something that’s just yours if you have a kid. Even if what’s “yours” involves a little murder.
So first rule, yeah? It’s not murder. We don’t use that word in this house and I won’t have my child growing up saying it. Murder is what serial killers do. Murder is messy. Murder is illegal. Yes, okay, technically what we do is also illegal, but we’re not here to debate technicalities.
The important thing is that your kiddo doesn’t go dropping the “m” word around their aunts and uncles.
Second rule: sleep when baby sleeps. I know, I just went off on how ridiculous that advice is, but it’s tossed about so often because it’s kinda helpful. If you can’t sleep for whatever reason – nerves, nightmares, contract deadlines – you can strap baby to your chest and multitask. No one will look twice at a person with a baby, even if that person’s casing the mark’s home. Use that disguise while you can.
Third rule: family time is important. They say the days are long and the years are short, but the time it takes for your kid to grab a knife when you’re not looking is literally negative. So keep an eye on them, preferably two. Play together, cook together, sharpen knives together. It teaches them early on the importance of a clean, well-honed blade and counting all your fingers.
Fourth rule: keep your first aid box well-stocked at all times. Fingers bleed a lot.
Fifth rule: teaching your child to finish a contract is teaching them responsibility. You don’t leave your room half-cleaned and you don’t leave a mark alive. These are both important life lessons.
Sixth rule: you don’t have to tell your spouse about your dayjob, but consider a believable cover for when you need to negotiate some alone time. Writers hold similar hours and interests, so try that out for size.
Seventh rule: you need to take care of yourself, too. Set the example early on that eating, sleeping, and bathing regularly are important and non-negotiable and you’ll spend less time later fighting your child to get them to do exactly the same. But you’ve got to stop fighting yourself, first.
Eighth rule: never feel guilty for continuing to pursue your passion. You went into this line of work for a reason, and having a kid doesn’t change that. If you just wanted money, you should’ve opened a bakery. But there’s something about those quiet nights out alone, just you, the wind, and your mark. There’s something about those heightened moments, every sense and every nerve ablaze. There’s something about knowing what you’re capable of.
Don’t forget that passion.
Ninth rule: you’re gonna fuck up. You’re gonna stay out too late some night because the mark refused to drink their poison. You’re gonna miss bedtimes and wake-ups, you’re gonna break promises, you’re gonna be too tired to even think straight and you’re gonna lose your cool. Forgive yourself, apologize, and do better. Seeing the way you handle your fuck-ups is just important for your kid as eating their vegetables, knowing their letters, and memorizing their antidotes.
Beyond all that, be flexible. Some days you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about; balancing your family with a little extracurricular murder will be as easy as sliding through an unlocked window. Some days, you’ll wonder how anyone raises a family in this economy. And inbetween those days, you’ll live your life and get to watch someone else live and explore theirs.
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