This post is part of the Carnival of Creative Mothers celebrating the launch of The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood by Lucy H. Pearce.
The topic was Nurturing a Culture of Creativity at Home…
**********“This book is an attempt to put language to the reality of being the most fabulous, and misunderstood of creatures: a creative mother. One who answers the callings of her child – and also her creativity. A woman who says: I cannot, I will not choose. I must mother. I must create.”
–Lucy Pearce, The Rainbow Way
I feel as if I have a long and creative dance as well as a long and creative struggle to balance mothering with my other work. I recently decided that I’m done apologizing—to myself, to others, or in writing—about my twin desires to care for my children and to pursue my own work. I’ve been parenting for ten years. Though I’ve tried for what feels like forever to “surrender” to motherhood during these ten years, I just cannot stop creating other projects, birthing other ideas, and participating in other work while at the same time engaged in the deep carework, motherwork required by children. I do both and I’m done apologizing. My life includes my children and my AND. That’s okay with me. As I’ve been reading Lucy’s book The Rainbow Way, reflecting on my own work, and looking around my home, I’ve had a realization: While I have struggled and cried and planned, while I have given up, and begun again, and surrendered, and refused to quit; While I have been present and been distracted, created and been “denied” the opportunity to create, while I have nursed babies and “written” in my head the whole time; While I have been filled with joy and filled with despair and while I have given myself permission and berated myself and then berated myself for self-beratement, my husband and I have created a home and family life together that is full of creativity. I told him as I prepared my thoughts for this post: if we are doing anything right as parents, it is this–our home is a rich, creative portal all the time. Within the last month, I’ve heard myself say, “get your painting shirt” to Alaina more times than I can count, and paused to appreciate, finally appreciate the fact that in our house there are painting shirts by the table that are never put away. I gripe about clutter and I struggle to be Zen, but my kids always have the opportunity to put on a painting shirt. It is at the ready and it is saying YES.
In 2008, when my second son was two, I dissolved into the nursing chair in one of those moments of surrender and self-beratement and a spontaneous vision filled my mind: I was walking to the top of a hill. At the top, I opened my hands and beautiful butterflies spread their wings and flew away from me. Then, a matching vision—instead of opening my hands, I folded their wings up and put them into a box. I wrote then as he nursed to sleep and I slowed my breathing to match his:
So, which is it? Open my hands and let my unique butterflies fly into the world. Or, fold their wings and shut them into a box in my heart to get out later when the time is right? Do I have to quit or just know when to stop and when to go? When to pause and when to resume?
What are the ways in which my children can climb the hill with me? To be a part of my growth and development at the same time that I am a part of theirs? How do we blend the rhythms of our lives and days into a seamless whole? How do we live harmoniously and meet the needs of all family members? To all learn and grow and reach and change together? Can we all walk up the hill together, joyfully hold up our open hands with our butterflies and greet the sun as it rises and the rain as it falls? Arm in arm?
Some time ago, in the days in which I had a totally different blog, I re-read a book called Big Purple Mommy by Colleen Hubbard. The subtitle of this book is nurturing our creative work, our children, and ourselves. It was in the reading of this book that I realized that being a writer is my primary means of creative expression and is my creative work. She talks about how painters “see” paintings as they go about their days, dancers choreograph, and musicians compose. I know my own very creatively gifted mother “sees” patterns in nature or life and imagines them as felted pictures or woven pieces (or whatever her current area of focus is at the time). Me—I write essays in my head. Just about every day I compose some sort of essay or article in my head as I’m going about my life. Probably only about 10 percent of those actually make it onto the page even as notes and even less than that actually are fully born. In the past I have acknowledged that this process of words being born within me and dying before they make it to the page can feel like it literally hurts.
From the book I saved this quoted quote from Emily Dickinson: “To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.”
And, one from Naomi Ruth Lowinsky: “Women who become mothers find that it is often in the crucible of that experiences in what is in so many ways a sacrifice of self, that she touches the deepest experiences of the female self and wrestles with an angel that at once wounds and blesses her.”
As I wrote in my Surrender post, I guess rather than balance per se, it comes back to mindfulness, attention, and discernment—knowing when to hold and when to fold. Just as I continue to return to my image of grinding corn, I continue to return to this inner vision of joyfully releasing our butterflies together.
As I considered the theme of this week of the blog carnival (nurturing a culture of creativity at home), a picture I took a couple of months ago kept coming to mind: in it Alaina is at the table painting with two paintbrushes at the same time. I couldn’t find the actual picture, but I did find an endless stream of other pictures that, irrespective of my own moments of guilt and endless mental machinations about how and why and am I doing a good job at this mothering thing, clearly show me a family successfully releasing its butterflies together. The majority of the photos in this gallery were taken on just one day. And, in taking them, I purposely didn’t get anything out to take a picture of. I just took pictures of what was already out, what was already on the wall, and what was already happening around me... (In my search for the two-paintbrush picture I did go back into my saved pictures and find some others included below that were taken on different days as well.)
This is a large gallery—click on an image to see the caption and to go through the pictures as a slideshow. Or, skim through them to the bottom of the post because at the end is my grand finale, concluding-thought picture! 😉
As I set down Lucy’s book and the cauldron of my mind bubbled with ideas and the pictures I’d just taken of our home and how we nurture a culture of creativity within it, I started talking to my husband. Getting ready for bed, I excitedly explained to him about how we are getting something right here with our kids. Really right. And, as I took off my shirt to put on my pajamas, he started to laugh. I said, excuse me? I’m all serious here with my deep insights. Then, I looked down and I laughed too, because this is what I saw on my belly…
I see butterflies.
Related past posts:
What to tell a mother-to-be about the realities of mothering…
or order it from your local bookshop!
Other posts in the carnival:
- Carnival host and author of The Rainbow Way, Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares an extract from the chapter Nurturing a Family Culture of Creativity.
- Lilly Higgins is a passionate food writer. Now a mother of two boys, she’s discovered a new calling: to instil in them a love of food and creativity in the kitchen.
- DeAnna L’am shares how visioning the New Year with your child is an invitation to be inspired: use creativity and resolutions to create a fun road map for the year ahead.
- Molly at Talk Birth on Releasing Our Butterflies – balancing motherhood with creativity.
- Laura shares some of the creativity happening at Nestled Under Rainbows and a few thoughts about creativity.
- Georgie at Visual Toast celebrates her own unique culture of creativity at home.
- Esther at Nurtureworkshop spreads the love of the ordinary, the delights of everyday things that can be an adventure of the imagination.
- For Dawn at The Barefoot Home creativity is always a free form expression to be shared by all in a supportive environment where anything can be an art material.
- Naomi at Poetic Aperture is a mother, artist and photographer who tries to keep her daughter away from the expensive pens and paints.
- Aimee at Creativeflutters writes about keeping your sanity and creativity intact with small kids in the house in her post: Mother + Creativity – They Must Coexist.
- Amelia at My Grandest Adventure embarks on a 30 Days of Creativity challenge…you can too!
- Becky at Raising Loveliness explores creating with her smaller family members.
- Jennifer at Let Your Soul Shine reveals how children help us connect to our souls, through music and movement.
- Mary at The Turquoise Paintbrush shares her experiences of creating with kids.
- Joanna at Musings of a Hostage Mother explains why creativity at home is important to her in her post “I nurture a creative culture.”
- It took until Amy at Mama Dynamite was pregnant aged 35 to discover her dormant creative
streak – she has found lovely ways of tuning into it every since.
- Emily at The Nest explores how creativity runs through her family’s life together.
- Jennifer at OurMuddyBoots sees that encouraging creativity in children is as simple as appreciating them for who they are: it just means overriding everything we know!
- Lisa from Mama.ie has discovered that a combination of writing and traditional crafts can provide a creative outlet during those busy early years of new motherhood.
- Anna at Biromums shares what nurturing a culture of creativity means to her.
- Zoie at TouchstoneZ argues that the less they are interfered with, the more creative children become as they grow up.
- Darcel at The Mahogany Way celebrates creating with her kids.
- Sally (aka The Ginger Ninja) of The Ginger Chronicles is continually inspired by her own mum and grandmother.
- Just being creative is enough, says Nicki at Just Like Play, as she ponders her journey of nurturing a creative family.
- Allurynn shares her creative family’s musings in her post “Creativity… at the Heart of it” on Moonlight Muse.
- Laura at Authentic Parenting explores how being creative saves her sanity.
- Mama is Inspired talks about how she puts an emphasis on the handmade in her home, especially in the holiday season.
- Kirstin at Listen to the Squeak Inside shares with you several easy ways for busy mamas and dads to encourage their children to be creative every day.
- Mila at Art Play Day always lived in her dreams, sleepwalking through life … now she is finding out what creativity is all about…. her inner child!
- Sadhbh at Where Wishes Come From describes how picture books can nurture creativity in young children.
- On womansart blog this week – nurturing a creative culture at home.
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Really beautiful… love the gallery of creations!
Dearest Molly, your post made me cry, then think, then laugh out loud. I am so, so blessed that the waves of the internet brought us together, and only wish we could be friends in real life, we have so much in common it’s ridiculous.
Thank you, thank you for being part of the Carnival and your constant support of my work and mothers everywhere. xxx
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I love your post title! These little flittering people really must be viewed as temporarily in our care, I guess. I agree with you that we must continue our own paths in the midst of all the parenting. Indeed, I want to show my daughter that it’s important to nurture herself as well as being kind to others. Sometimes she has to wait. Most of the time, it’s me that waits on her. Of course we still are the people we were before we had kids. At least, I know she’s in there somewhere!
Great post! Really spoke to me!
Really appreciating your post. I related to so many things you shared, but your thoughts about writing all the time in your head, made me sigh. Oh, I know how that is. I have tiny notebooks I carry with me in my pockets at different times, hoping to catch a few words or images, hoping to hang on to that thought for an essay, for a book, and then, well, like you, only about 10 percent of all of that comes to fruition. Still trying to make sense of this dance of holding on and letting go. Thank you. Peace, Nicki
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What a fabulous post and you are so getting it right! All of the pictures are great but definitely the last one is in the right place, the beginning and the end meet nicely. I also just love what you said about your mother.
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I always thought that as I got the tattoo , as a gift for myself from the tattoo artist customized,That this was MY message from the universe to tell me Spreading your wings is in Order..sins then i did spread them felt wierd, but reading you did that as well..:D makes me glad I did 😀 THANK YOU !
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