The Bounce Back

I feel like I hear a lot about the “Postpartum Bounce Back”. Do a quick google search for “bouncing back after pregnancy” and you will yield a ton of articles on pelvis binding and postpartum exercise to regain your pre-baby physique. You will also see things about how to regain some “me” time, quiet time you had before baby and other absurd post-baby life desires. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I will ever “bounce back”.

Why do people feel they need to be the people they were before they had a baby? I mean, no one expects you to be the kid you were in high school after you’ve graduated college. If you fall in love with someone. you aren’t asked to be the person you were before the relationship. If you lose a loved one or move to a different place, take a new job, make a major lifestyle or diet change, everyone expects that you WILL change and hopefully grow from each of these life experiences. But after growing then caring for a human, somehow we are supposed to become our pre pregnancy/motherhood selves?

Having a baby has changed my whole life. I am physically, mentally and emotionally changed. My entire being has, like a boat on a lake being rocked by the ripple of a ship sailing by, been affected. Eventually the waves will get smaller and my daily life will not be as moved by the S.S.N.C. but I will be ever changed by her.

My art has been affected too. Not only has the way I create art, like my working hours, changed but what I want to paint has changed as well. I must embrace this. If we cannot get over how our children have changed us personally and professionally, then we will capsize in their waves. We must work with the disruption of water and turn our bows into the waves to face these changes head on, rather than not turning and being unable to see what is coming, risking losing in all. When I work with my daughters schedule and needs my painting days are not as productive as they once were. On those stormy days, I can barely sail forward, but wishing the storm away has no effect and brings my mood down. If I hold onto the need to have more time than I can give I will get depressed and that only hurts my productivity further. I will weather this storm, as many others, and my good days will come. I try to be productive as possible on those good days, and this makes up for any losses I may have had, as well as refilling my cup.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I want to work on my physique too! But I will work with what I am now, not what I was. Just as I do with my art.

As my mother once said to me when I told her I would pay her back for all the money she gave to help me while in college, “don’t worry about paying it back, pay it forward to your children, I don’t need it.” The love you give your children now, they will pay forward.

So, forget about bouncing back, just sail forward.

 

-M

 

Serial Makers

A few nights ago, my husband and I were straightening up our basement. This was following a long day of organizing, cleaning and purging our home of items that were cluttering up our mudroom. Since having a baby, our modest home seems to be busting a the seams with STUFF. In our efforts to keep down the clutter, this is a constant battle we fight, loose and fight again. My general thought while tidying, and deciding what stays, goes, or is stored, is MY things are the easiest to whittle down (since we plan on having more children, the baby stuff takes priority and gets stored). As soon as I start to assess the situation of my things, one thing becomes very apparent, I have a lot of stuff to make stuff.

Rewind to a few months ago, I was shopping with N.C. and I saw the cutest felt hair pin, that was five dollars (!). I thought to myself, “OH, SO CUTE! Ugh, five dollars. I could make that.” Fast forward to a few nights ago and tidying, I stumbled upon a package of felt, box of threads and hair clips, that I acquired to make the felt hair pins for N.C.. I explained the items to my husband, why we had them, and what their intended purpose was, his response was so spot on, he said, “You just have this innate need to create.” I never REALLY realized this. I mean it’s SO obvious but this is how I have been as long as I could remember so I understand why I never had this realization.

I started to tell my husband about being a child of six or seven and being taught how to use a sewing machine, so I could use my mothers sewing scraps to make bedding for my Barbie house. How when I was about eight or nine, I asked my mother to teach me to knit so I could make scarves. Also, we stumbled upon a fabric print of a penguin decoration that I had hand embellished with beads, which was a phase I went through too. There are countless other crafts and things I did as a child and that has continued to adulthood. Our house if FILLED with unfinished projects and their materials. However, in saying all this, when I looked at this felt for hair pins, something I try to remember when telling myself, “I could make that…” is, we only have so much time in a day.

Being a serial creator is both amazing and distracting from a painting career.

Now, I have no desire to tell anyone to stop creating all their things. I really enjoy all my crafts, but sometimes you have to remember to focus on one at a time.

Being able to create a lot of things has lead me down some real rabbit holes. I have been a graphic designer for years. It has been how I’ve fed myself (mostly) for a decade, which I am so grateful for, but something my teacher used to always tell me is, “Don’t let your side job become the main job.”

The need to create is so strong in us artists, that sometimes, especially while mothering, if we don’t feel we have the time or emotional bandwidth to do our main gig, keeping your creative side alive with crafts or other things is wonderful and necessary. But just remember to not let it become the main event.

For me, painting is near the top of the creativity pyramid. My daughter is the first thing I put my effort into nurturing, but painting is my second. All of my other crafts can be done, but not a the cost of painting. If I can paint in that small window of opportunity I get to create, that is what I should do. But also, don’t starve your creative side if the main event can’t be tended to. Creating is so incredibly important to my being, that depriving myself of doing other things is also not healthy.

Remember too that our children are part of our need to create, and nurturing them is part of our creative side. Art and motherhood seems to be so beautifully intertwined as a sort of divinely given master act of high art. This realization makes me feel more full when all I get to do is care for my daughter in a day. I used to get more upset, when her needs would override my painting days, but now, I feel more connected to the act of caring for her as food for my creative side.

So, to my fellow #motherartists, know that what you are living is the ultimate act of creation in the life of a serial creator. Motherhood is not interrupting your creative life, but a beautiful part of it. Keep on creating.

 

-M