Nina: What can I bring to this party?
Well, since I’ve been invited to the party, I am wondering what I have to bring to this gathering. I’m honored to be included in this creative sisterhood, and I’m impressed with what I’ve read and seen since I arrived. But I still am trying to figure out what I have to offer. I’ve been thinking about it all day . . . . . while I was at my daughters’ school listening to first graders read “Never Say Never” over and over and over again. I thought about it after school when we drove down the hill to WalMart to buy the new “Alvin and the Chipmunks” dvd that I promised Gracie if she earned her “Good Worker Awards” at school this week. And I was still thinking about it when we arrived home with way more “stuff” than I intended on buying on this little shopping trip. Oh well, that always happens whenever I go shopping with husband and kids in tow. “We really need these, Honey,” he’ll say as he throws in a pair of slippers and a 10-piece miniataure tool set. “Look at THIS, Mom! We REALLY need a new sleeping bag / tote bag / sun glasses / flip flops / Dora watch,” whatever . . . . I’m tired and I just want to go home!
Having been a mother for almost 35 years (yes, I probably am old enough to be YOUR mother!) I’ve had many experiences and years of joy and heartache . . . . .maybe THAT’s what I can bring to this party. Not that I know so much more than younger mothers, it’s just that I’ve been doing this for a really long time, and most people who know my husband and I wonder if we are totally insane that we decided to adopt our daughters after all our other children were grown up and most of them having families of their own. Could be . . . . but I guess we are happy crazy people! Being a mom can be very exhausting, especially if you have a creative spirit. I am always amazed at the other moms that I meet who seem to have nothing else to do but drop their kids off at school, and then go home and watch Oprah. Now, not that there’s anything wrong with watching Oprah . . . . . I guess, I don’t know because if I had an hour to do whatever I wanted to do, it sure wouldn’t be to watch TV, no matter who’s chatting with whom on a couch in the middle of a studio audience!
So how do we balance the demands and responsibilities of motherhood with our need for time to express our creativity? I’ve tried lots of different things, including the one hour bath time, the dining room table tent, and all kinds of other tricks to appease my sense of . . . . what? . . . . guilt? . . . . . that I need time for ME! We are all such creative moms, whether we write, paint, dance, sing, design, sew, draw – and that is just who we are. And that is OK! And whether or not you believe in a Higher Power, or God, or whatever works for you, I think it is OK with the universe that we, as women, as wives, as mothers, as people, need time to be who we were meant to be. So . . . . my first offering as an invited guest is this: Let yourself be yourself. Simple, right? It really is, because if there is one thing I’ve learned in all the years that I’ve been a mom is this one straightforward truth: if I collapse under the weight of the “expectations” for my life, I am not really very helpful to those who really, truly do need me. Oh, expectations . . . . let’s chat about THAT topic one of these days!
If you can afford a few hours a week for child care, even if you are “just” working at home, do it for YOU. Or trade with another mom who also needs some time to herself. Find a way, without feeling guilty, to allow your creative spirit to soar beyond the everyday demands. Give yourself the gift of YOU, and that gift will overflow to everyone else in your life. Don’t waste the years that I wasted, thinking that if I just worked a little harder, a little longer . . . . just got a little less sleep, or deprived myself so that others could have everything they want and always be happy . . . . . . it simply didn’t work then, and it won’t work for you, either. Lower the bar . . . . isn’t that what one of you suggested? Touche!