Less than six months after founding, my company received a grant to apply for 501c3, non-profit status. Looking back on it now, it was an interesting reaction to the grant all around. I was not excited nor did I celebrate. I got to work right away, I hit the ground running and did not look back. I had work to do and a deadline by which to achieve it. I felt pressure and the need to succeed after receiving this small investment. My founding board president, however, had the complete opposite response. Her reaction was “I guess we have to do this now.” I was dumbfounded by her reaction. Of course that is what we were going to do. That is what we set out to do and I had that headstrong attitude…. I never fail.
Those who have applied for 501c3 status know that the process is long, time-consuming, and filled with lots of paperwork and technical language. All the Ts have to be crossed and the Is and Js dotted, or heaven forbid, the application is rejected and an org has to apply again. The application is also expensive and the grant my company was awarded would only cover one application. One try. It was the organization’s one shot. Pressure.
Having experience working on federal grants at the University and after successfully applying for my husbands’ green card by myself, I decided to do the application in house. And that meant I would do the application. Me, working at home, just me. And my son.
I did the paperwork for the c3 when my son was 9 months old. At a time when he was learning to stand. At a time when I was weaning him from breast feeding. I worked on the application during my down time from work. I was teaching 2 classes back then. It was supposed to be 20 hours of work a week but it was more like 30 or 35. Like artists, adjunct faculty are overworked and underpaid. There I was, In between lectures, office hours, grading, and managing teaching assistants. I only had child care for my UA job. All the dance company work didn’t pay, so the expense of childcare was not justified. Especially for my husband. My mother-in-law lived 45 minutes away and was unable to help due to ongoing family problems. It was me, working from home. With my son.
The memory that is seared into my brain from this time in my life is an image of me. Sitting at my desk in my small one-bedroom apartment on an exercise ball, desperately trying to finish the application. And my son at my leg, trying to stand, trying to climb up my knee, so that I could hold him. But I could not. I had to finish this application. Me, alone. Stress. Pressure. I kept brushing him down off my leg, back to a seated position, back to the floor. So I could focus on work. No child care. Stress. Pressure. So I could get the application done. No child care. So I could finally have space to do choreography I envisioned.
Pushing him to a seated position so I could work, so I could choreograph, so that I could dance. That set the precedence for the years to come…