Today’s mom talk is all about the creative mom struggles. One of the biggest/hardest things about becoming a mom for me was that my time wasn’t as free as it used to be. I have always been very selfish with my time. And I guess I took it for granted. One thing that being a parent teaches you is that your time isn’t necessarily yours anymore. Without having a partner who lives with you or shares the same amount of time with the child in a co-parenting situation – being a single fulltime parent can be very overwhelming. As a painter and writer I found myself very lost – not being able to create when I wanted to because my daughter needed my time and attention. Feeling too tired to create and unmotivated because of stress. There were and are a lot of factors that contributed to my inner struggles of being a parent and a creative. I tried working during her nap times when she was a newborn (and still do this) as its the only time I really “get time to myself” besides being at work which I don’t think counts. But I quickly began to feel burnt out from using her nap times trying to get things done. There’s that saying when you first become a parent to “sleep when the baby sleeps” but its like so when do I get the million things I need to do done. It was like I racing against the clock trying to hurry and get as much done during her hour and half naps and anyone who is a creative knows you cannot rush art especially not watercolor. And rushing myself to get as much done with my paintings in such a short amount a time led me to making lots of mistakes and feeling like a failure as both a parent and an artist.
This also led to me resenting my daughter only cause I couldn’t create when I wanted to and couldn’t give myself the time to fully immerse into my work. I still struggle now with this and Sage is 2 I don’t resent her now though I’ve come to the realization that life has changed and I just needed to get on board with it. I am going to enroll her in school next year and I know this will free up some hours during the week (when I’m not working) to devote to creating. It doesn’t help that most of the people I know are creatives and don’t have kids so I started to begin to compare myself to where I was and where they are in developing creative careers, recognition and how many shows they were doing. This ultimately made me feel worse and insecure like I wasn’t doing enough. Comparison is I think the worst thing that can happen to a creative it creates doubt and fear and I had a lot of that when it came to my work.
There is this big myth that artists of any kind make terrible partners and husbands/wives. That we are selfish and only care about ourselves our work that our relationships come second and I guess in away this serves both people in relationships (the artist and the partner) when things don’t work out. There are even more myths about working mothers that we cant have it both. Be successful and be a good mother. Add that to a “job” or whether “jobs” that never stop – there is no clock out for a parent or a creative and it seems impossible. How to be a successful creative and be a successful parent. A woman looses a lot of her identity becoming a mother much more than a man does in becoming a father- even now in the 21st century there is so much weighted on the mother. I read in the article that I linked below that the reason that parenthood is in conflict with being an artist is because ” Because the point of art is to unsettle, to question, to disturb what is comfortable and safe. And that shouldn’t be anyone’s goal as a parent.” And it made me stop and think that there might actually be a real reason to why I myself have struggled with making art and being a mom for the last 2 years. “Oscar Wilde said it is the most intense mode of individualism the world has ever known.” I had my daughter at 24 I got pregnant at 23 and immediately I could see in class and in my friends faces that I was not the same I of course did not feel the same but it was mirrored back to me in countless ways – I had a ceramic teacher the first full semester I was back in school who everytime I brought up my daughter I knew it made her uncomfortable what I didn’t know then was with what. She is young – maybe a year older than me and I think she knew and felt through my own struggle what a struggle being a mother and a creative can be. To devote time and space to parenting or creating? That’s where the struggle is. Do I give my daughter the phone for a couple hours to work on a poem? Do I zone out? Do I neglect her? Do I plop her in front of the TV? Or do I stop do I mother and work to pay the bills and find away to be satisfied with that. Or do I try and find some balance? Do I wait till she’s older? Do I step back for a couple years. But the question should be why do I have to choose. I know that there will be days I give more to motherhood and days I give more to creating and I also know I never want creating to mean I neglect my daughter.
On days when Sage goes to her father’s I always make these long lists of things to get done. I go to work and I have the night to work creatively whether that’s paint or work on my book of poems and not get my toddler ready for bed. But rarely do I use the whole time to work before I feel anxious and I cook or I take a bath then I tell myself I deserve a night off cause I do. Its rare. So, I watch Netflix and then feel guilty for being happy that I have time alone but I’m not creating. I’m unsure what the answer is here. Maybe a little bit of me has given up on creating and said mothering is a lot (cause it is) and I’m no longer driven or motivated. Or I decided to believe in society and thought I cant have it all. I think writing this will (hopefully)get me back to creating consistently. Motherhood isn’t just one thing. And it doesn’t have to look like it either. That’s what I want these mom talks to be about. Go out and resist and prove people wrong. Motherhood is powerful and badass and I’m over feeling inadequate as a creative because of it- when in fact I’ve created the ultimate creation.
I still haven’t been able to find this balance between parenting/working to pay bills/ and creating. I would love to get to the point where my creations pay my bills but until then I’ll be trying to find some sort of normalcy with it all. Create when I can and be thankful and present in the creation.
There’s this story that I think is in Woman Who Run With Wolves (but I can’t find it and believe me I’ve looked but also this book is amazing and I highly recommend it to all women but especially to mothers) about a woman who loves to dance but doesn’t anymore cause she’s a mother and wife. She takes care of her kids her home and I can’t remember if this happens once her kids are grown and gone or not – but she would sneak into the city and dance on the weekends until one day she stops. She cleans the kitchen and she takes out a gun and kills herself. The story was about the death of the woman because she becomes other things. Mother. Wife. Nurturer. Home maker. Maid. And she has little tome for herself for the things she loves. She is drained. And tired. A shell of a woman until she can no longer take it. So, if you feel this way tired and drained and not yourself. Let the woman in you come out. You do not always have to be all things to your kids to your husband to the life you’ve chosen. Make time for the things you love for the creative you. For the you who likes to go dancing with friends. Whatever it may be that makes you feel alive do it.
How do you other creatives who are parents balance being a parent and being a creative?
Also check out this article if parenthood and being a creative is something you struggle with: https://www.thecut.com/2016/04/portrait-motherhood-creativity-c-v-r.html