Portrait of the Artist as a Guilt-Ridden Mother

Posted: April 13, 2011 in music, Random Writings
Tags: , ,

I’m in a creative phase right now, working on new material after almost two years of refining and recording material for my upcoming EP.

 Having space to create feels good in so many ways. Creativity is both my coping mechanism and my vanity; my psychic insulation from the world, and my Achilles Heel. There’s also a compulsive element, particularly when I’m working on a new song or three, as I am right now.  A large part of my brain is tied up in endlessly repeating unfinished song lyrics hoping to push through to the next line or hearing bits of music in my head and wanting to see how they fit together with another part I already have.  I can lose track of time easily when I’m right there in the moment, and maybe that’s the magic of creativity for me. It’s one of the few things I do that actually puts me in the moment. 

I have two sons – ages 3 and 11.  They have lived with their mother’s creative compulsion all their lives.  At times it’s worked out well for them – a huge papier-mache volcano in the back yard? Sure!  Make a movie about our cat being a demon kitty?  Mom’s ready to shoot and edit.  But for the most part, Mom’s creative life is an inconvenience, just like Dad’s job.  They have yet to put it together that mom’s creativity, unlike Dad’s job, isn’t really funding the household, and in America no money means no value.  Maybe they will never see it that way.  Maybe that’s just my hang up.

But because I’m not “professional” and because my subject matter is often dark or weird, I keep quiet about what I do when meeting new moms at school functions or on playgrounds.   When asked,  I simply say I stay home with the kids, which is true, but it feels like only half the story since creativity is my lifeline.  I often wonder how many other moms have similar secrets.  

I would sound horribly selfish to say that my kids get in the way of my creativity.  Creativity is my release and my kids are often the cause of stress.  I have met many a mom who has told me with honest joy that her children have brought creativity back into her life, or her children have helped her re-channel her creativity into useful family things like sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking.  My children do inspire me often, but never to scrapbook.   Childhood has dark, scary  and wonderful moments that they have helped me remember.  They have also given me the gift of urgency.  Because of them, I no longer feel I need a whole day to work up a song idea – I’ve got an hour and a half before preschool pick up. Time to make music – Go!

 I  feel guilty during those long slow hours in the afternoon when I am playing make-believe Star Wars,  or Dinosaur Bingo, but secretly running  song lyrics in my head over and over again hoping to get to that next line.  If ever something demanded being in the moment, it is parenting.  

My litmus test for how I spend my time is this: were I on my deathbed right now, would I regret that I had not done more of a particular activity?  I’m pretty sure I won’t be regretting that the stove didn’t get deep-cleaned more, or that I didn’t shop for clothes often enough.  On the other hand, when it comes to playing music or playing with my kids, the answer to both is a resounding Yes! I would regret not living both my life as a mother and my life as a creative person to the fullest. I’m just a little conflicted on the balancing act.

I often wonder how other artist moms handle balancing their creative life and their parenting life. . .

Self portrait - I've never been good at drawing guilt.

  1. Nice blog. I like your blog.

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