3 women share how their creative work evolved with motherhood
June 04, 2015
One of the great challenges of parenthood is finding the time (and sometimes even focus) to maintain a creative practice. That's partly why we love the #100DayProject, which we wrote about in April.
It's "a celebration of process that encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making." For 100 days, people do something creative, sharing their work daily on Instagram as they go. We think this is a perfect, approachable framework for busy parents to either jumpstart their creative expression or experiment with a new creative outlet.
Now that the #100DayProject has passed the 50-day mark, we wanted to profile three creative mothers who've stuck with the project.
But instead of simply asking about their projects (which will be over soon), we wanted to learn how parenthood has changed their relationship to their creativity.
We asked them two questions:
How did your relationship to your creative work evolve when you became a parent?
(Bonus question) How has it further evolved as your children have grown older?
How did your relationship to your creative work evolve when you became a parent? Being an artist and being a parent require the same creative energy. The same vital spark that ignites my creative work, is what my boys crave from me. In that way, they are at odds with each other.
Since having children, the time has become more precious. Not only because each hour uninterrupted, is pure gold, but also because they mark times passing. As theyve gotten older, my life feels like its accelerated.Years become minutes.
On the wall, we mark their height in inches. Their growth is inevitable and fast. Yesterday they were small. Yesterday they were babies. Today I cant remember them as anything other than what they are: lanky limbed and loud.
They have less immediate physical demands, but more emotional demands. They dont nap any more; they dress themselves, can play for hours unsupervised. At the same time, they want my attention differently. Its not just about me looking, watching, witnessing them in their world (though it is this, always this). Its about really listening. Even though they require less energy in one way, they require more in another, and so in the end, theres still the conflict: time with them, or time to create. Its not easy to find the overlap.
I take time when I can. During the week, its a handful of minutes maybe. On the weekend, its time that could time with them. Yet I trust that what theyll remember isnt what I missed, but what I inspired in them. An avid love for the creative process. An appreciation for the solace, ones on company. A deep, raw wonder at the beauty of this world.
How did your relationship to your creative work evolve when you became a parent? When my daughter was born, my whole being focused like a laser on her. Everything was concrete and grounded in basic human needs. Time to nurse. Time to change a diaper. Time to sing her to sleep. I forgot a bit of my creative self-other than figuring out how to change a diaper in an airplane or function at work on zero sleep.
When she became a toddler, all that changed. Kids have unlimited creativity, and I found myself playing pirates on the playground, building forts and spreading paint all over canvasses with my bare hands. I returned to writing, acting, taking photographs and making art again.
Now she is seven. Were both growing in our creative practice, and I want to be a role model for her and show her that creativity is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. Just showing up matters, and the #100DayProject is a great exercise to demonstrate this.
I also find myself taking more risks with the creative process as a parent than I did when I was alone. Maybe its because time passes so much faster now, and theres a sense of urgency to create. Each stage of childhood is wondrous, but impermanent, reminding me that life is fleeting. So find me wanting to constantly capture snapshots of it through writing, photographs and sketches.
Sometimes I want to kick myself for wasting so much time in my twenties, but what matters is that I keep going and dont stop creating from here on out.
Marissa's #100DayProject: #100daysofmhvignettes"I'm committing and excited about this 100 Day Project. I will paint one very loose watercolor daily of an interior, a home vignette, a cool house, or a small object. I'll aim to use my watercolors, but I can also use Paper by @fiftythree! I can't wait to see what everyone makes."
How did your relationship to your creative work evolve when you became a parent?
Before I had my son, I was repeatedly told that I would never have a moment to myself ever again. While I understood that my life would be irrevocably changed (for the better in my opinion), I resented being told this. Cant we celebrate changes in our lives, but not guilt those who still want to keep something of themselves? As a child, one of my favorite things about my mom was that she had her own interests, and encouraged me to pursue my own as well. I want to pass this along to my son.
The great thing about impending motherhood was it gave me a deadline for the someday Id relegated some dreams too. A friend and I officially launched an interior design consulting business, and I started taking my art seriously. The way timing works, suddenly I had a newborn baby, room designs to wrap up, and illustrations to complete for a deadline. Thankfully, my mom was in town helping, and I had the support from my husband and mom to rest, enjoy my new baby, but also complete these amazing opportunities. I learned how to work quickly and efficiently, and to trust my instincts. I no longer procrastinated out of fear. If Henry was sleeping, I was not going to waste a moment cleaning up my work area when I needed to be painting. And in the early and overwhelming days of motherhood, it felt good to do something that still felt like me. I didnt realize how much I needed a little bit of that in my life until then.
Being a mother makes me braver and more confident in life and with my art. I dont care as much about what others think of me, and think that there is room at the table for artists of all types, myself included!
How has your creative process evolved further as your children have grown older?
Time for art with a day-job and a small child has definitely evolved. After the frenetic work was done for my deadlines when he was born, I made sure to be gentle with myself and just enjoy my son. I put my watercolors away one day and didnt feel like painting for about 9 months. That was okay. I dont regret it one bit, since I had learned to trust my instinct, and was enjoying the simple and beautiful daily moments with my son. Also, I was learning how to be a mama and maybe myself again too.
Then one day, the paint called to me. The time off from painting resulted in such a surge in inspiration, that I have barely skipped a day in the past 7 months. I also think some of this has to do with Instagram, and the wonderful community there. Through social media, I found the most supportive creative people, who inspire me to dream bigger and implement ideas like a recent interview series Ive started focusing on Artist Mothers.
The biggest challenge with a small child is free time. I view time way more critically now. Time is harder to come by unless I make other sacrifices in my life. Lately Ive found that if I wake up earlier while my son is sleeping, I can paint before work and not miss out on time with him. I am the worst morning person ever, so it shows how much you may be able to sacrifice to do what you love! Also, Ive learned to be very realistic with my time, and know I can only take on so much side work at a time. I live by the quote, You can do anything, but not everything.
Some days I let my son watch more TV than Id like to so I can finish some work. I try to balance it out by making the time I spend with him count. I put the phone down, I listen to him, and I crawl on the floor and play with him and his monster trucks. I dont know how things will change as he gets older, but I do know that he doesnt have another mother to compare me to. I hope he will remember that I always hugged him with my entire being, that we laughed a lot, that I try to include him when I can, and that he knows that I do this so that I can be the best mother possible to him by filling my cup a bit too.