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