I have been mothering multiple children for over a decade now, and in their midst, my time is always shared. I have begrudgingly learned that some tasks cannot even be begun in the realm of raising little people. Perhaps that is when we lose sight of actions that bring us joy. To be peeled away from what we love to do, because we are never not needed, is painful at times. There was a moment when I felt sure that I would never again see an artistic endeavor from conception to completion. To feel compelled to create, or inspired in that moment, and realize that someone is always going to be hungry, or crying, or bored, and you are the one responsible for tending to those needs, is really awful.
I’ve adapted. Part of it sounds like less than a solution. I have embraced that sometimes I appear to be a slob. Okay realistically, if the creative urge is strong, I cut corners. My friends know that if they drop in on me, I may be wearing my pajamas as an outfit. On certain occasions, I have not asked the kids to clean up after themselves if they are not interfering with me, and aside from throwing food at them, I will anchor myself in the task at hand. It’s an artist/mother survival technique.
The truth is, I've never been afraid to make a mess, but there was always time before kids, to start and finish something. Now there are twenty in between stop-and-start-again phases. And at the end of the day, as I scramble to throw dinner together, the countertops may be covered in unfinished paper crafts, paint trays, and the resulting hint of what could someday be art are littered over the colorfully blemished dining table. My bed may be hiding beneath strewn fabric awaiting a final stitch and me somewhere else completely, making a sandwich, applying a bandaid, or just belly to the ground, playing with my kids.
I have made an effort not to completely abandon those things that seem absolutely unfathomable to finish. I credit this to handing over much of what I love to do, to my kids. I may have wanted to collage a masterpiece, but I spent the hour cutting out things that they wanted from magazines instead and in between helping the littles with the glue and the scissors, I was able to steal enjoyment from the creations that they made. This is how they have come to sew, paint, sculpt and draw. I had to willingly let go (literally sometimes: paint brushes and pencils pulled from my grasp), and be okay with assisting them in their own creations.
Making things for the sake of making things, is who I am. There is homemade flarp in my carpet that is never coming out. A beautiful smear of fuchsia paint has embedded in the wood floor in my dining room. Sparkles are so deeply ingrained in the nooks and crannies that you can’t escape, unknowingly wearing one or two on your face for a day. The mess is collateral damage for the bigger, more important part; remaining a creative force while being a mom.