The Amalgamation of Motherhood & Creativity

November 15, 2022

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The Amalgamation of Motherhood & Creativity

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I must admit that when I started writing this essay it was an attempt to convince myself that motherhood and creativity could coexist, but I didn’t know for sure yet. After giving birth to two sweet baby boys within a two-year span of time, I found myself constantly exploring this topic: can my creative self find life within this new self – this new life as a mother? I worried that this rebirth meant the death of my old self, the death of the creative part of me. It seemed I would never again have the interior space I once had, and I had taken it for granted. I hadn’t capitalized on the abundance of space to explore artistic endeavors, the time to ruminate on new ideas, and the energy to create anything not of immediate value to the demands of my daily life. It seemed that I was stuck at the crossroads between motherhood and ambition, and I had chosen motherhood not understanding that the paths went in different directions.

In the early days after giving birth to my second son I mourned the loss of the creative and spacious period of my life. I wished I would have taken full advantage of it. Now I was stuck on the merry-go-round, feeling like I would never go anywhere, while I was actually in a constant state of physical movement caring for little human beings. Words for the experience of pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum seemed to fall short. I couldn’t find the right language for what I was experiencing. Chaos rained down on my identity. In this season of new motherhood it just seemed that there was never enough time. The loss of energy was startling. Even more startling was the loss of brain power. I worried my brain was atrophying. Will it come back to me? Or am I destined to have my only skills be that of wiping butts?

I felt an internal struggle between not being present for my children’s childhoods and not meeting my own potential. Creativity and creating life both demand so much of your time, your mind, and your body. How they could both live and flourish inside of me simultaneously seemed impossible.

In opposition to the urge to get back to my creative self was the urge to have more children. Children have been an incredible blessing and I do not regret my choice to venture down this path into motherhood. But do I start all over again if I have another baby?

Motherhood is so OTHER focused. Before children I had a rich interior life, but caring for a baby is very much external and physical. There isn’t a lot of space to spare for interiority. Throw more than one child into the mix and this exterior life is pretty all consuming. There isn’t time left to spend inside of your own being, your own thoughts. At some point you leave yourself to tend to these little beings, to nurture the creation of their own identities. So it’s easy to neglect the nurturing of your own identity.

Often this neglect of yourself once you become a mother is expected. It’s packaged into a gender role forced on women in our patriarchal society. While I won’t explore the impact of these gender roles when it comes to motherhood, we can just say the expectations and pressures are real and worrying.

Beyond the expectations of society there are personal obstacles to figuring out how to integrate creativity and motherhood. For me and my own attachment stories, I wrestle with fear of failure, fear of laziness, the idea that rest isn’t productive, money is scarce, and success in the arts is a rare unicorn.

While I struggled with these obstacles and failed to find my way back to my creative self, time passed. My children grew. They very quickly needed me less and less. I sat on this essay, further exploring the merging of my creative self with my mother self. Slowly, I began to feel more energetic, lighter, more flexible, stronger. My creative goals started coming back to me. My drive and desire to carve out time to devote to these goals returned. Pieces of my former self began to glint back at me in my reflection. Yet, they were changed, fortified, patinaed with the raw exposure that motherhood brings. The amalgamation of my creative self and my mother self was beginning. And the process was alchemy.

Now, as I sit here with a one-year-old and an almost three-year-old, still freshly out of the season of new motherhood, I find it hard to believe that I was so worried about losing my creative self in lieu of motherhood. In fact, it’s hard to imagine my creative self flourishing in the way it has if I hadn’t had children. Motherhood has expanded me in many ways; it’s expanded my whole worldview. It’s given me a taste and appreciation for all experiences in the human condition – and each and every one of these experiences has only made me more creative. Looking back I realize how limiting my ideas were of what it meant to be creative. My goals, dreams and ideas of what is possible now have no limits.

And so I write this essay as a reminder for the next time I find myself in that season of fresh raw motherhood. To serve as a beacon of light through the fog; a signal that I haven’t lost myself forever. The creativity will come back to me, beautified in a way that only age and experience can bring. The momentum will return in due time, this time with a clearer path ahead. I just have to wait.

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