Thursday, 17 March 2011

Creative Mama

The Hug

I've been thinking about my life as both a Mum and an Artist today.  And I got to thinking about that part of the story where I became a Mum, and how I eventually got reaquainted with my artist self.  I thought I'd share it with you :)

When my dear little egg was born, my world was shaken to the core - rocked by lack of sleep and utter bewilderment at my new status, there was no time to indulge in creativity.  My new job was 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  I was an indispensable necessity to this small bundle and I surrendered to the blurry nights and days without question.  I remember holdling that incredible little being and looking into her dark, inquisitive, wise old eyes - and as we looked at one another in the velvety darkness of that night, I realised then that part of my life had disappeared forever.  The days of independance, the days of freedom, of paint, books, wandering, random excursions...those blissful days where I had it all sorted, could do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, they were gone.

And nobody tells you that you will grieve for those days sometimes, although I've realised that it's ok to grieve for them.  I used to feel very guilty about that though; hadn't I been handed the most precious of gifts?  How dare I wish for How It Used To Be...I felt bad for wanting that part of my life back for some time.

When our daughter was five weeks old, we drove to North Lincolnshire to deliver some paintings of mine for an exhibition.  These had all been made ready well before our daughter arrived, and I remember the journey being full of stops and starts as we pulled over several times on the way to feed the wee soul, and change her nappy.  The rest of the time she slept, and we were able to tiptoe around a Pete McKee exhibition undisturbed while the curator took care of my work.
However, on that warm grey June day, I recall something stirring inside - a wistful urge.  Nostalgic feelings of How Life Used To Be resurfaced, and I recall feeling envious of the artists who could wake up leisurely and paint to their hearts content ~ long days filled with canvas and acrylic, cups of tea, music, freedom...ahhh,

But I was a Mum now, things were different. 

My own Mum shelved her artistic side when me and my sister were born, and she has dabbled only infrequently over the years that followed.
That day in the gallery, I could fully understand why she had done that, why she had put her drawing pencils and paints away carefully in a drawer and not returned to them.  The tiredness was indescribable, the emotional rollercoaster was not a ride that you could just climb off - my time now belonged to someone else fully, wholeheartedly but I remember feeling guilty as I craved my time back for my own.

As my daughter grew older, I realised I really had to let the creative side of myself live too, alongside my new role as a Mum, alongside my tiny daughter ~ without it I felt dry, empty and increasingly frustrated and irritated.  It certainly wasn't something that could be shoved into a cupboard to gather dust, that much was evident.
My other half was incredibly supportive and encouraged me to spend an afternoon painting, whilst he looked after the little one.

I remember getting everything out ~ it had been such an age since I'd even looked at my art materials...feeling anticipation as I laid my brushes out, excitement as I put paint on my palette...but it had been such a long time...could I still do it?
I lost myself in the time that followed, surrounding myself with rainbow coloured paint, crayons and paintbrushes.  It was all that I needed, it was like a tonic.  
I felt relaxed and happy as I tidied away - I could still paint (I hadn't forgotten after all those months!!) and I knew that despite that wee little girl being my Number One, my art had to be acknowledged as Important too.
It wouldn't be like it was before she was born, those days were long gone - but there were at least glimmers of opportunity in that distant, hazy future that made my heart soar; for snatched moments where art and creativity could be squashed in between toddler activities and the hoovering. Yes, it would be random, and occasionally household chores would be left 'til last thing at night so an hour of daylight could be used for painting instead...yes, it would be messy and possibly (to some) self indulgent.  But it would be worth it.

And it is.

I am very lucky to have a supportive Other Half and helpful parents, and I realise that not everyone is that fortunate.  But I do believe that us Mamas need to make time for ourselves in our busy lives and do things that make us glow inside.  We deserve to acknowledge that our needs are just as important as the others whom we nurture and care for on a daily basis.
As time goes on, I'm getting better at living my life without wondering if I'm meeting everyone elses expectations and whether I'm doing it 'Right'.
This way might not work for everyone, but it works for Us, and that's what matters.  I'm also hoping that by allowing myself time to do the stuff I love, I'm teaching my daughter that she needn't sacrifice everything if she ever decides to have a family herself.  I hope she will discover that with a bit of artful juggling, she will be able to be the best Mama she can be, as well as indulging her own needs; to teach her that her needs are just as valid and as important as the ones of those she loves around her.

Thanks for dropping in today, and for reading ~ welcome also to some new Followers (waving hello).
If you would like to invest some of your sacred time into creating again, for fun or a regular focus, then check out my Being Creative Project (find the tab at the top of the page) where you can join me and a heap of others in making and creating themed art projects each month.

Have a weekend sprinkled with sunshine and Spring flowers...sending you love
Julia x


  1. Such a super beautiful post..and gorgeous art.. heart touching and inspiring...lovely to meet you and visit your magical space!

  2. Thankyou Julia - you summed up how I feel about juggling your own needs with your family's - I know I'm a happier person and a better mother when I can be creative as well!

  3. I will always remember how wonderful it felt to hold my little one and love her totally but I also remember the feeling of isolation and loneliness. You are right - no-one prepares us for that do they. I overcame those feelings by going out to mums and toddler group and meeting new and very special friends. (For every negative there are heaps of positives!)

  4. A lovely post Julia. My son is 12 now and I still yearn for the part of me that has gone. I still feel guilty for wanting to create when I should be doing more with him. The up side is that he is very creative and enjoys watching me being creative too! x

  5. A book title which has remained in my mind for many years- "MOST OF US ARE MAINLY MOTHERS". I never read it but the truth of the title has stayed with me. Remember that the little ones won't be so little forever! Your art of the mother and baby here is the blue. (Oh, and the word verification is "MOMAN". How appropriate!)
    Kay Guest

  6. Well done Julia for allowing us all to admit there is a need for us as individuals within parenting. Great post x

  7. What a wonderful post...go girl!!

  8. Loved reading this- well done for writing it! Frm what I've seen you are a great mum and have a fab relationship with your little one and lovely to share your talents with her and nurture them in her- she certainly seems to have inherited them from the artwork on your walls compared to our `scrawls` so you must be doing things right! :)

  9. Lovely post Julia, so true!!

  10. What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing it. Motherhood is always a juggle of meeting needs :-)
    Grandparenthood brings new challenges too and I'm loving it.
    A x

  11. Hello Julia,
    Your story is very touching and it is the story of every creative mother ... I still remember when I used to wake up in the middle of the night to feed my baby and wish nothing but a couple of hours just to sleep...but you are absolutely right...we have to manage time for ourselves to create...that's what makes us better parents!
    Have a beautiful evening,

  12. I can reallllyy appreciate what your saying in this post at the moment, as my daughter is just over 7 weeks old and I'm currently 'enjoying' those night-time feeds!! So I've been too tired to want to do anything creative for quite a few weeks.. although now I've realised that whilst I'm up feeding her, it is the perfect time for me to be getting on with some crochet..!

  13. I totally agree you are so right, I have felt that guilt but you're right its a juggling act. Thank goodness for pre school just a little time to be yourself is good.

  14. I was quite young when I had my child and I honestly didn't feel a lot of the things you describe but are endorsed by other comments here - I felt totally fulfilled and never wanted to swap back to my old life for a minute. I do agree though that it is important to listen to your needs and take care of those too - finding a little bit of time to do your thing, whatever that is (we are all different).

    I think when you are an older parent (as opposed to just in my twenties, which I was), there are more sacrifices in life style to be made. I didn't think I was giving anything up as I wasn't doing anything very much and in fact my life was endlessly enriched in ways I had never imagined. I had and have the opposite problem - I feel/felt totally defined and comfortable with being a mother to the degree I didn't want to do anything else much (only occasionally - I did enjoy those playschool mornings, it is true!). Nothing has ever given me more pleasure, more validation and a sense of privilege - not even close. Now my daughter is grown up and I need to find a way to adapt to what I am now expected to be by society but my passion was motherhood. That is now over. Whatever I do, it will be enjoyed yes but my biggest and best creation was my daughter and I will always be grateful. I agree totally that finding who we are and being that individual is important.

  15. Thanks to all of you that have taken the time to visit, read and leave me your comments today, Ive enjoyed reading all of them and I wanted to thank you so much for sharing your open hearted thoughts here.

    Love Julia x

  16. Beautifully put Julia. I know just what you mean, you've said it all. Even now that my tots are teenagers I'm still trying to validate the time I spend sewing and still can't bring myself to use the A word. I am an Ar....

    I feel that... only now that I'm actually selling items of my work, I'm allowed to be taken more seriously by family and friends but they still expect the laundry to be done and tea to be cooked. No one says 'Let me vacuum the stairs for you, you've got important sewing to be done!' Even though that sewing is earning the money to put the food on the table!

    Love em all to bits though :)

  17. I have loved this and your last couple of posts..just getting to know how you have felt has been like a validation of parts of my own life..thank you!

  18. Inspirational! Thanks for sharing :))

  19. My sister has only just picked up her sketch book and pencils again after nearly 20 years, having had three children. She draws beautifully but lacks confidence in her own ability. I'm going to show her your post in the hope that she will at least feel encouraged.

    Thank you Julia.

  20. Beautiful post Julia. I think you sum up how a lot of us feel.

    I think not just being a mother, but being a wife also, has a way of making you 'disappear' as a person. Don't get me wrong, I love being a wife and mother, but when you are a wife, you tend to do most things as a couple and compromise a lot!

    When you become a mother, you lose quite a bit more of yourself. I am a firm believer that to be a good 'all rounder', you need to be able to have some time and space to do exactly what it is it that you love and that 'makes'!

    I have found blogging a great way of being me again. No one telling me what to write, what to take pictures of, and it helps me to keep the creative juices flowing.

    A happy me makes a happy mum and i'm sure the bears wont argue with that!

    Have a super weekend!

    Much love

    Vanessa xxx

  21. Very familiar sentiments Julia. I must say that for the first 6 weeks after I had a baby, I was quite resentful of losing so much freedom - I quite envied hubby being able to bobby off to work. Once you realise that this is how it is, it does get better though doesn't it. I am just regaining some of my freedom again - and my daughter is almost 19 years old.

  22. Hello Julia! You were writing so well! I think everyone should do, even short moments, that they enjoy. I'm sure every mom is better mom if she's feeling good with herself! And what could be better for a child than seeing her parents creating, doing different things, learning through them - that's the best way to give to the children the possibility to be creative!
    Have a great, sunny weekend! Teje

  23. What a lovely thoughtful post. I too went back to my crafts about 4 years ago. Having a little creative 'Me Time' definitely makes me a better mum and a nicer person I'm sure. It is worth all the juggling.

  24. what you say is so true. I only started being creative for me again as a new years resolution in 2010 and it feels so good! I think personally that children really benefit from seeing their parents be creative as it teaches you mistakes are ok, patience is good and that is is relaxing. My kiddies quite often sit alongside me creating things - it is amazing what they can do when you let them create.

  25. Awesome post, thanks for sharing. I definitely need to make sure I make time for myself to be creative. Helps keep me balanced.

  26. Hi Julia, lovely post and such familiar feelings .I had 3 kiddos in quick succession so was too busy and knackerded! to craft for about 8 years.
    It feels so good to have the time to create things again .I'm much happier and the boys must surely benefit from this .
    For many years , pre children, I wished I had a creative job . Now I an happy to work part time ,enjoy my children and create things that make me happy.
    Life is GOOD :0)
    Jacquie x

  27. Hi Julia,
    I too can identify with the need for time for yourself while you have children. It makes a happier mummy doesn't it? I went headlong into motherhood before I'd even finished growing up myself so I never had to give up a career or anything like that. I went on to have six children but it wasn't until after my fifth that something hit me and I felt I HAD to paint and draw for myself, to feel like me. (I didn't really know who 'me' was!)It's been a long hard road but now all my children are older I do have the time and I'm very grateful for it! :)xx

  28. you are such a beautiful writer Julia, your post is so full of love, wisdom and honesty.
    it has been a pleasure to read and there is much i can relate to, but have never been able to put into words. i am thankful that you have done so.
    your artwork on this post is so breathtakingly lovely and tender too.

    warmest wishes and spring~time hugs


  29. What a beautiful post... I have missed checking your blog over the past couple of months, but early pregnancy has been hard on me and I just haven't felt sociable! So this post is so timely for me... I hope I can find the balance when my own baby is born. Thank you for sharing xx


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