A Colourful Life: Bursts of Creativity amid the Messiness of Motherhood

 

“This is the crux of being a Creative Mother. It is more than how many jumpers you have knitted, or having an exhibition in a fancy gallery, or a bookshelf of your own books. It is about the act of living authentically whilst honoring your mother self and creative self. About saying yes to life, every part of your life, and finding how to weave them all together.” 
― Lucy H. Pearce, The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood

A friend asked me recently “how is your writing going?”.
“It’s not.. I’m not..I wish I was…But thank you for asking..”. I quickly replied, grateful for the query, frustrated at the truth of my answer.

I don’t write, because it’s much easier to list out all the reasons not to write: 

“I’m too tired to read let alone write anything good..”
“I’ll write when I have more energy, then the writing will be better and I’ll feel good about it..”
“I can’t think. I just need sleep.”
“I don’t have time, there’s too much laundry.”
“What’s the point anyway?”
 

Or my old favourite: 
“I have no new original thoughts. I have nothing interesting to say. I’m a mother of two, it’s really tough sometimes, bla bla bla so what?!” 

They could all of course be translated into one word: fear. 
Fear of producing something a bit below average. 
Fear of having nothing to say.
Fear of hitting some hard truth within the twists and turns of my writing. 
Fear of committing to something that could lead somewhere.
Fear of being ignored entirely.
Fear of rejection. 
And so on. 

I long to write. Then I actively avoid it. 
If I can’t have at least an hour alone in a room in silence with my laptop, I won’t attempt to write at all. I’m all or nothing. Probably a bit precious. This, I came to realise, had to change. 
Mainly because this restrictive mindset , coupled with all that fear, meant I wasn’t getting any writing done. 

The idea of trying to write with Leo (now fourteen months) in the room seemed nonsensical to me. Why bother if it’s only for ten minutes and I’m just going to have food thrown at me? 
Now, I’ve learnt it’s that or nothing.
Ten minutes writing is better than no minutes writing. 
Something has to be better than nothing. 
Even if it is in fits and starts. 
Even if the thought processes are halted every few minutes. 
Let the messiness of motherhood be evident in the art. Allow for the mish-mash. 
Create in the gaps, the in-between moments. Make those spaces, however small, sacred moments of creation. Golden time. 

Nap times where he wakes earlier than predicted. 
Seven minutes in the car before school pickup.
Walking to the playground, one hand on the pushchair, one on the phone. 
In bed nursing. 
Anywhere nursing. 

I’d often wait till the weekend when there’d be “more time to write”, but we’d be out as a family all weekend and that time would never come. Or rather, I wouldn’t prioritise that time. It’s all too easy to avoid creating when your energy is depleted anyway. 

Fourteen months into being a mother of two, and I’ve learnt no one is going to hand me this sought after time on a plate. No one is going to save me from months of creative drought. No one cares more than I do about my art. 
If I want to create, I must do so of my own accord.
I must make the time, and ensure the whole house knows about it.  
“NOT NOW PLEASE MUMMY IS WRITING!!!” 

“Progress, not perfection, is what we should be asking of ourselves.” 
― Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

There is no perfect balance. 
It will always be a juggling act. 
And often my art will be neglected for days, weeks or months, my inner child longing to play. 

But then once in a while, I get a moment of stillness. I’ll be writing or painting and a sentence or a group of colours will come together just so, and there’ll be a few seconds, however fleeting, of absolute clarity. Pure joy. 
There is a knowing, that regardless of how short these bursts of creativity are, they are absolutely worth it. They are crucial to the creative muscle. A spiritual experience.

I might not get hours and hours each day but I am grateful for the short snippets of time I have been gifted. 
Given time is such a precious commodity, I maintain a “done is better than good” approach and try not to spend too long on the editing and tweaking stage. Momentum is everything when your practice is already limited. 

It’s about doing what you can, with what you have and calling it good enough, for now. 
Though the final results may be few and far between, it’s the process that counts. 
The final product is simply an outcome, the cherry on the cake. 
It’s the determination to persist in the creative practice, even and especially when the circumstances aren’t ideal. This is where the growth happens. This is where the magic lies.

“Creativity occurs in the moment, and in the moment we are timeless.” 
― Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

3 Comments

  1. What a great post! It was definitely something I struggled with when my children were as little as yours, and even now they are a bit older (eldest is 15, youngest is 8, all are homeschooled), I have to be really disciplined about either carving out that time for my creative pursuits, or making the most of the little snippets I can steal. I’ll have to look up the book you quoted, it sounds great!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I could have written this myself! I always say, “I wish I had more time to write.” Then when the moments are available I procrastinate! I’ve challenged myself this month to post once a week! Good or bad, I’ve been sticking to it. 😂

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s