On Being Creative and Being a Parent
My latest news is that I have launched a new 8 Week Intensive Program. Who knew how all-consuming this would be. There is still coaching, the podcast, writing, and let’s not forget those pesky offspring to take care of. Actually, my kids aren’t pesky; they are awesome, and I, these days, could be a better mom. I’m stuck somewhere between feeling guilty and feeling scared that being a good mom means giving up my dreams. I need to take my own advice – so here it is. I am writing this as much for myself as I am writing it for you!
There are 4 major points to remember. One: Creativity is important to your spirit; kids are transient and you must have something to show for your life beyond keeping them alive.. Two: It’s important that your children see you having something that you are passionate about. Three: Just because the computer is there, doesn’t mean you have to sit in front of it. Four: It’s all about the process – breathe.
Create for your soul
Sometimes we forget that kids are transient. I know they will always need you – especially these days… they never move out! But seriously, even if they are still living with you, by the time they are 20, they are pretty much choosing their own destiny and really aren’t that interested in what you have to contribute, other than money. They certainly don’t need you to pack them a lunch or do a bed time routine anymore… what I’m saying is – they won’t always need you to plan your life around them.
Creativity can be anything from writing, dancing, or painting, to starting a business or doing research. If you are passionate about it, your action and involvement with that passion is, by nature, creative. This feeds your soul. If our nature is to evolve and expand, just like stars, plants, and the Universe, then passion is the fuel and creative action is the expansion.
Expand in front of your Kids
There are lots of grown up things we do not do in front of our kids. Let expansion and creativity be among those things you do model for them. Once, my kids asked me why I still take dance lessons if I already know how to dance. It’s a fair question, really. I’m 42… not gonna be joining Alvin Ailey or competing at Black Pool any time soon. I do it because I can’t help it. The desire is so strong to continue to learn and create a ‘better line’ with my arm or have more rhythm in my cha cha (even if only my teachers are watching), that I do whatever I have to do to pay for my lessons and drive 25 miles each way to get there. They seem to get it. And as they find things they love to do, they get it even more. Motivation and drive are hard things to ‘give’ your kids; they sometimes seem to come hard-wired with it or not, but you can certainly model it for them whether it’s your job or your hobby. They will watch, learn, and respect that.
It’s not worth ignoring them
Just because the computer is on, doesn’t mean I have to sit in front of it. I’m going to find something sharp and pointy to put on my chair to keep me away from it! (I won’t cuz the dog could get hurt) OK – at least a sign with “business hours” posted. My problem is that my work is all at home and it’s 24/7 if I let it be. I’m sure many people can relate to that. It’s better to give up TV time for your passion than it is to give up Kid Time. Again, they are transient… .which also means that if they are little, pay attention NOW. Be present with them.
As hard as it may seem to “schedule” the creative flow, being a parent requires this to a certain degree. We just don’t get to have our “me time” on demand. That went out the window during the first birth. So if you can have the babysitter every Wednesday and get to a coffee shop to write, great! If you must spend an hour a day lusting over design magazines, then do it from 10 – 11pm and enjoy nights full of Chandelier Wishes and Cabinet Dreams. (35 and older will get the reference) There is always that wonderful suggestion of turning off the cell phone and computer between 5:30 and 9:30….. I’ll try it if you try it. 6:30-9? Pick any two hours! Baby steps!!!
It really is about the Process
I am big on setting dates and deadlines. We have to have tangible goals to get things done, I think. But the truth is…. (I’m not talking about working for others here) dates can be changed and the world won’t stop spinning. It’s great to have goals, but if they are throwing things out of balance for more than a few weeks, there needs to be a re-evaluation. When a project is finishing, there are bound to be those “Hell Weeks” as you wrap up; but really, it’s about quality of life, family, and the process itself. If you are terribly stressed out during the process, you won’t get much joy out it, and, I believe, it won’t turn out as well. When you are enjoying the process, you can be open to the happy accidents that happen along the way…. a new topic, a little input from a friend, maybe an additional character! Whatever it may be, you won’t end up missing it because you were too busy squinting in frustration. Breathe, and enjoy.
So that’s it. As always, it’s that fine balance between prioritizing your own health, joy, and life satisfaction and being there for your children in a meaningful way. They are transient, which means we need our own identity beyond them, but it also means we need to be present with them now, make them feel valued, and nurture their creativity as well.
So now that I will log off, one is doing homework and the other is texting her friends…. hmmm…. I wonder if I can “act out” or something so they pay attention to me!
edited and reposted from another blog, Feb. 2012