Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Creative Blocks and Momhood

Grab the moment when you have it. Grab the inspiration when it arrives. If the moment and the inspiration come at the same time, is it really better to do the dishes? It’s easier, that’s for sure. It’s far less scary. You don’t push any boundaries by washing the dishes that have been sitting in the sink. You can stay in the nice, safe territory of “but I’m a mom and I have so much to do and I have no time/energy/opportunity to create.” It’s a lot riskier to sit down and face the demon of the blank page.

I’m stuggling, right now. My urge to create has evaporated with my energy and my concentration. My excuse is that I am pregnant, again, and just recently escaped the first trimester. My last pregnancy, I didn’t write or paint or journal or craft or sing or dance or even listen to music, I just gestated. I sat and gestated—surely a creative act, as is raising a child, but not an artistic one at all. I was like a chicken sitting on her egg. I was broody hen. I was brooding. Am right now.

I can’t bear to lose another nine months of creativity. Nine months and more, if you think about the long months after birth when you have a tiny creature totally dependent upon you, who wakes you up every hour to nurse. The exhaustion nearly made me psychotic. I’m terrified of becoming this exhausted, brooding, non-creative thing. I’m worried about sinking into this new being and losing my old one. But I can’t do it. I need to be creative, both for myself and for my child/children. I need to do it for my relationship with their father, too, because the less I create, the crankier and meaner I get.

These are my issues right now. But anytime you create, you are going to be faced with issues. Come to think of it, these have really always been my issues—exhaustion, feeling ill, getting distracted by other tasks, putting myself and my needs last, procrastination, depression, lack of self confidence. It’s almost like being a mother and being pregnant institutionalizes what once was just my individual bugaboo. Now I’ve got hormones to blame, or a baby who needs my time, or morning sickness, or the energy drain of chasing after a toddler, or needing to keep the house from becoming a permanent pig pen, or making sure everyone gets enough of the right kind of food to keep on chugging. So many “mom” things to do.

And it doesn’t always feel so victorious when I push through my blocks and get creative anyway. What once would feel courageous now feels selish. What once was considered focus now feels like neglect of child and home and partner.

How to reconcile this? Who comes first, the mom-role, or the artist-role? Does it have to be one or the other? One over the other? Can’t a mom carve the time out of the day to be both, to do both?

It seems like it should be possible. The busiest people are often the most productive—I know I’ve always gotten so much done when I had the most on my plate, strangely. Maybe it’s about having the will and determination to do it. Maybe it’s about overcoming your fears and flaws and excuses, just like it is for everyone. Maybe it’s about figuring out what works for you and your family and your work. Maybe it’s about what the sneaker company says. Just do it.
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