I am only a month late with the May post! Woohoo! Per my list of creative activities that I published in February, the project for May was centered around painting while June’s focus is engineering. While we completed these activities, I am learning a valuable lesson about myself in my new role as a parent: I’m getting creative about following my own rules.
First: the projects. I wanted something simple and sweet to don the wall above my daughters crib. When I close my eyes and think about happy, relaxing times, I am reminded of time I spent as a child on our family ranch. I would frolic around between buildings looking for stray barn cats and discovering new things about nature as the sun glimmered off the fields in the distance. There was one particular year where dandelions were particularly prevalent. A mere walk to the other side of the property resulted in thousands of dandelion seeds taking flight, launched by the slightest bump from my pant-leg.
I used to love oil painting. The meticulous practice of bringing an image to life using layers, colors and different brush techniques was calming. I practiced patience while images took weeks or months to emerge. That isn’t an experience I am interested in at this time. For this project, I took 3 colors and a palate knife to a canvas and moved around blobs of paint until I was happy with the result. Using “blobs” of paint resulted in several weeks of drying time, but it was worth the wait. I now have another reason to smile every time I walk into our daughters room.
The June engineering project was something that my husband kindly crafted after I explained a gardening conundrum.
Essentially, I want to grow greens, but we don’t really have a lot of space for it. We have a spot in our back yard for some plants, but I want to be able to eat a lot more than we can currently grow. The solution: a fancy pants vertical garden made out of rain gutters.
The key to the design is drainage. We need to be able to plant, water, feed, ect and allow the roots to grow in an environment where they wont immediately rot. I am amazed at his ingenuity. Look for plant updates in our July project post.
Back to my creative revelation.
Before kids, I would pride myself on my ability to set a goal, make a plan and stick to it. No matter what. Start a business, lose weight, buy a house, go on a massive international trip by yourself; No problem. Now, I seem to “fudge” things.
I reread my initial post about having ‘100 posts to share about creativity‘ when I started this blog in January. Here it is nearly half way through the year and I’m no where near that. Assessing the situation to determine a root cause results in two ideas: one – I am interested in so many things right now that when I get an hour or two of personal time, which was originally set aside for writing, I often choose to knit or relax. Secondly, I feel like I have an excuse because I have a child.
I don’t feel so bad because of the first one. I literally pulled the numbers out of my butt and, because I have never embarked on a year long writing adventure, I could have been way off on my assumptions for how much and how often I wanted to write. Ultimately, I have learned quite a bit about raising a creative child from this project so I am happy with the amount I have written.
What is more concerning to me is the “I have a child” excuse. I have literally every opportunity to succeed in my projects. I have the ability to stay home with my daughter, a wonderful partner who supports me, family nearby, a few extra dollars to pay a babysitter. Now that I have come out of the “new mom” stupor and have regained some semblance of normal life, I still find myself occasionally making the excuse: “Oh I don’t need to do ‘x’ because I am a mom now.” What the hell is that? Laziness? Disinterest in my projects?
After some consideration, I have determined that I am actually still interested in my projects and, although I have been a couch potato lately, I am not intentionally submitting to a life of laziness.
I believe that I had created a false truth in my own mind: If I’m not watching my child, then she isn’t getting the best care. Once I realized that I have wonderful family members around who are willing and able to come over and watch our daughter for a few hours, I realized that taking back a little bit of my time is freeing, invigorating and makes me feel empowered to continue driving toward my goals. I want to be the kind of mom who doesn’t give up everything to change all of my daughters diapers. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with other people devoting most or all of their time to their kids, for me to feel authentic, I need to pursue my own personal, selfish goals.
While I am so glad I didn’t have any pressure to do anything but figure out how to live during the first 9 months of my daughters life, its time that I fess up: I’m not actually sleep deprived anymore (knock on wood), pumping is going well, she is thriving and life is generally in order. I need to evaluate what projects I have been putting on hold because of my transition to motherhood. Then, I need to evaluate how much time I need to do the things that are important to me and hire a highly qualified babysitter to come over a couple hours per week. I know that the list wont be as long or intense as it was when we didn’t have a child because I do actually still want to stay at home with her most days. But, its time that I stop with the “creative” excuses that I am allowing myself to make. It is only holding me, and ultimately my family, back from a truly authentic happiness.
How do you make time for your creative interests or personal goals amidst starting a young family? I would love to hear your story.