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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!

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Welcome, Nina! So glad you joined us. Your story is fascinating.

    You hit on a couple of things I’ve been thinking lately myself–namely the truth in that tired maxim, “youth is wasted on the young.” Not that I have anything against young people, obviously, it’s just that I wish I had know then what I’m just starting to figure out now, at 38. So much time spent pushing myself in areas that don’t really matter. Staying up all night to finish a client project when no one else but me would have noticed the difference if I’d stopped eight hours earlier. Worrying about things that I couldn’t control, rather than living in the moment.

    I’m sure your two little ones are the beneficiaries of all that you’ve learned, and enjoy the gift of a comparatively relaxed mother who doesn’t have to remind herself to pick her battles–she can do that without thinking–and perhaps most importantly, really knows herself. I aspire to walk in your footsteps! (Except for that two more kids thing 🙂 )

    When you have a chance, please share with everyone what it is that you do creatively, and how you came to your creative pursuit. (As an intro, everyone should take a look at Nina’s beautiful blog, http://mamaslittletreasures.typepad.com.)

    April 5, 2008
  2. Well, the truth for all of us is that if we just live long enough, we learn lots of hard lessons . . . .whether we want to or not! Age does have some advantages, and as you mentioned, I don’t worry so much about many of the things that I did the first time around. I realize that most of the things I worried about for my children have either never come to pass or have already happened, and so far, everyone has survived! And – I’m definitely in a much happier place in my life, so it all seems to work out OK in the end. I’m delighted to get to know the other moms in this group, and know that I am going to learn so much from you all. Thanks for the invite!

    April 5, 2008

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