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Cathy: Not selling myself short

Crosspost from musings in mayhem.

The question of balancing motherhood and creativity arises constantly. The other day, I read a very interesting wake-up call over on and her head popped off. I loved the photograph of the mom going ahead with painting whilst her toddler hung upside down, squiggling on her lap. The mom in the photo is continuing her creative work regardless of being a mom as is the photographer and author. The essence of what Terri wrote was just shut up and do it. If you really want it, you’ll make it happen.

I think that’s why a lot of us mother-writers blog. It’s a piece of writing, that while it may not necessarily change the world or be the next Great American Novel, keeps us going. We can do it in the snatches of time during naps, or a bit of quiet while school aged kids are out of the house, in between loads of laundry and sinkfuls of dishes. We can focus for a few minutes, while our Big Project waits sometimes patiently, sometimes not so patiently for a chance to be the focus. We can do it while a wiggling toddler cuddles in for a snuggle while our fingers click away on a keyboard, like at this very moment that I write.

My old photography self of eons past has been relegated to largely okay pics of the kids and whatever catches my eye, with a little automatic easy camera rather than one I could make adjustments on, given the time and the perogative. The old dancer self still throws down in the kitchen periodically, albeit stiffly and ungainly. The old performer self regales at the dinner table in silly voices and fake opera, when I can get a word in edgewise among the constant stream of noise from all three kids. The old drawing self, will doodle now and then, and more often pretend large invisible canvases in sweeping gestures with my arms while I sit vegging out in front of the tv of an evening, too exhausted to do anything more. Honey must wonder what I’m doing over there, but is too polite or exhausted himself. Other times, I am making chi pottery, sitting with my hands balled around or manipulating invisible clay.

And I blog. I post something every weekday since I started this with the exception of when I took a summer excursion.

I know I have a manuscript that really wants to be finished and shopped. Believe me, if I could focus on that right now, I would. But when it comes to the big writing, I need more mental energy than I currently have. I also have three horizontal file drawers of poems and short stories that could use editing, compiling, submitting, as well as how many on the hard drive that need the same, and the three journals in my bedside drawer, dog-eared where good ideas are languishing. And then there’s that screenplay idea from about eight years ago that still won’t die, and I’ve lost the outline for ages ago.

But, for right now, This is what I can write, while I chase C away from the dog food again when things have gotten a bit too quiet. I’m doing a pretty fair job of it. And yes, I just wrote another very self-referential blog about blogging. But I’m doing it. I am writing.

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11 Comments Post a comment
  1. And you’re doing an awesome job of it! One thing that can definetely be said of you is that once you commit to something, you commit to it fully.

    I wish I could come up with a new blog every weekday, but I just don’t have the mojo. You really inspire me to “get crackin’!”

    September 25, 2009
  2. thanks, brittany! honestly, i just write whatever pops into my head, and some days i get off easy by posting a video or picture that particularly struck me, usually because it was funny, sometimes, it’s inspiring.

    my secret is sometimes i prepost a few on one day, and do none at all over the course of a week. so,on a monday, i’ll write 3 or 4, forget about it til thurs, when i say, uh-oh, need something for tomorrow! and throw something up. if i were more like miranda, I would schedule and plan it out better, more evenly, but that’s just not how i work.

    miranda, you do realize you are the organizational goddess we all aspire to, don’t you?!

    September 25, 2009
  3. LOL — however I can help, Cathy!

    Seriously, I love this post, and Terri’s original. There is a fine line between being “kind” to yourself and just believing in your own BS. The plain truth is that if you want to do something badly enough — lose 30 pounds, write a novel, go to Africa, whatever — you’ll do it. It might not be easy, and it might take a while, but you’ll do it.

    Sometimes the best way to be “nice” to yourself is to impose a little tough love. Inertia cannot always be the winner. Well, it can, but then I guess the whole making art thing wasn’t so important after all, was it?

    I too am nauseated by my own whining. Right now, I’m in the zone, so I’m not whining that much. Some days (OK, most days) my plans get blown out of the water, but I figure it out. The important things are happening, the important relationships are being nurtured, I’m taking care of myself, and — OMG — I’m happy. I’m making serious progress in being able to be in the moment while also focusing on what’s important.

    Last night I had a wonderful, 2-hour conversation with my oldest son, a freshman at Ithaca College School of Music. He was in a chatty mood, and before I knew it, it was 12:30 a.m. But I bet my son didn’t know how much he inspired me. There he is at school, working his butt off, practicing guitar and keyboarding 5-6 hours a day, and his frame of mind is: “I have to get off my ass and start DOING stuff.” He knows what he wants to do. He has set the bar very, very high. He wants to be brilliant, and he has all the ingredients. With a strong interest in film scoring, he wants to start creating his own scores on the side, just to get going. He is synthesizing so many different things that he’s learning. And his bottom line is “I know what I want to do, and I need to stop effing around.” Now I assure you, this kid is not effing around, but he knows how much work he has in front of him in order to accomplish his dream. He’s ready.

    Obviously, being a college freshman affords one a few “luxuries” that being a mother and domestic goddess does not, but the point remains. You want to do something? Go do it. No excuses.

    How badly do you want it?

    September 25, 2009
  4. that’s great to hear! and yes, i remember being that young and open to the universe at my playground for greatness!

    and then i became a mother, among other things.

    and i will get back to working on the manuscript. just like this morning i am finally able to wrap my brain around how to turn the interview i did months ago into an article and am writing it now! just got off the phone with my interviewee to solidify/clarify a few of my sparser note areas. but that was after writing a a good progressive chunk.

    September 25, 2009
  5. Kristine #

    I love this post and i LOVE the picture of the artist with the toddler on her lap. Funny, inspiring, and so reflective of the struggle creative moms face every day.

    Cathy, the fact that you are able to blog every day needs to be acknowledged and celebrated. I wish I had the ability to do it. Right now, I’m so focused on finishing my novel (almost there!) that even thinking about a topic to blog about is impossible. When I’m not writing or doing mom/wife duty, my brain is mush. But I do hope to get back to it once this book is done. Maybe I’ll have something interesting to write about then! 🙂

    September 26, 2009
  6. thanks, kristine! and please keep focusing on your novel because i want to read it!

    September 26, 2009
  7. still catching up on everything here. nice post cathy, and i think it’s great the you make time to blog every day. i do the pre-post thing sometimes too. my blog’s been a bit neglected lately. and i’ve come to realize something….after reading that post you linked to….and i have to disagree with that post. this has been what i’ve learned in blogging and reading other blogs, many of which are by artists of some sort who are also mothers: the majority of them are artist mothers who do not work full time outside the house. and that, my dear friends, is not an excuse. that’s simply my reality. i don’t have much creative time. i don’t have much exercise time. this week has been a fairly typical week for me. monday night…got home at 6:45pm, because that’s the one night i choose to do something just for me…go to my guitar lesson. tuesday nights i teach two back to back classes so I get home at 9pm. wednesday night this week i had to do a presentation in another class so i got home at 8pm (that happens at least twice a month). today i was able to get out of the office a little early to meet with the girls’ teacher at 3:30pm and then go to their fall dance. and again, these aren’t excuses….this is reality. obviously quitting my job is not an option because we have bills and a mortgage to pay, which can’t be done without my salary. we’ve done the math. sure, we could sell our house, but in this market? and no, we don’t really want to sell our house. it is our one little peace of paradise that does manage to keep us sane. so for me, i guess i get tired of seeing posts like terri’s that talk about not making excuses when those bloggers’ realities are very different than mine. it’s not excuses. it’s life. and short of giving up sleep entirely, i can’t make more time magically appear in my day. guess this one just hit a nerve with me. been a very tough couple of weeks.

    October 1, 2009
  8. kelly, it’s not excuses, and you do find time to make jewelry and photograph even as you are working fulltime, teaching classes, raising the girls…..

    October 1, 2009
  9. thanks cathy. i appreciate that. i was just reading back over some of the comments to this post and terri’s post still hits me the same way.

    miranda said “Obviously, being a college freshman affords one a few “luxuries” that being a mother and domestic goddess does not, but the point remains. You want to do something? Go do it. No excuses. How badly do you want it?”

    it’s truly not always “how badly do you want it?”. great motivational speak, but it doesn’t always work that way. i know how badly i want it. i know how badly i want to create more and find more time for me, so it’s truly not about just going and doing it sometimes. there truly is the reality of there being only so much time in the day. i wrote here before about the whole “life gets in the way” line of thought and how i feel that mindset is screwed up….life doesn’t get in the way; life is what is should be all about…in whatever form you happen to be living it at the time. some circumstances simply are out of your control, no matter how badly you’d like them to change. those are the circumstances i find myself in more and more lately. so no, my life is not always sunshine and roses and dolphins in the backyard….as i’ve said here before, that just tends to be the part that i choose to share. after all, my business is called “HAPPY shack designs” and my blog is “artfull HAPPINESS”. wouldn’t be real good for business to start whining about life in general, huh. facts are, i don’t have the time to do the things i’d really like to be doing more of and even though i’ve been letting go of the things i can let go off, i don’t see that time window expanding very much any time soon. i’ve been sick for three weeks, the girls have been sick off an on for three weeks, dh has to have surgery on his hands. and then i see another stay at home mom complaining about how she never has any time to herself (none of you…just some of the stuff i see on blogs and on facebook), and i want to say, give me an effing break (i like that word, miranda)..come live in my world for a week or two and you just might reconsider how much time you actually do have. considering disconnecting from technology as much as possible to get away from that type of whining. .

    ….okay, think i’m done venting now. 🙂 gotta get back to work. i have two very large stacks of papers to grade.

    October 2, 2009
  10. sick you and sick kids, no fun. surgery, moreso. i think we all, whether sahm or fulltime or somewhere between, are looking for that elusive connection to our creative spirits. even in times i worked, i chose to look at what i was doing from a perspective of creative thinking. in education, it’s a constant, right, kell?

    effin’ is such a large part of my vocab, i hate to say, i’m trying to convince my older kids that they need to find an alternative…*sigh* time to be the change i want to see in the world, eh?

    btw, there is a road sign down here for effingham….love it! it’s always in the am traffic reports.

    October 2, 2009

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  1. Kelly: Love Is Time « Creative Construction: Life & Art

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