motherhood

Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at whipup.net over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

Molly Balint and her husband live with their four girls in a fixer-upper farmhouse in rural Maryland where you can always count on three things: fresh eggs, a muddy kitchen floor and a kid who needs a bath. She chronicles life on their little farm on her personal blog, MommyCoddle. She is also the co-creator of the photography + words project, habit.

In my creaky old farmhouse in rural Maryland there are four kids to cook for, keep clean, clean up after, teach, nurse, and referee for. And then there are the 13 chickens, the 4 cats, the dog, the baby zebra finches and the pony. And when all that’s said and done there’s freelance writing deadlines to meet, emails to answer, and virtual inspiration boards to compile.

Just reading that list is exhausting.

Because having children changes everything.

Not only does it change things like the grocery bill, the laundry pile and the fact that there’s a pony in my backyard, it also completely changes a mother’s creative life.

I’m a firm believer that motherhood is in and of itself a creative endeavor. For lack of a less cheesy cliche–each day a blank canvas, each child a lump of clay. It’s whispered, far-flung stories in little ears, it’s hair braids and barrettes, it’s turning sofa cushions and quilts into clubhouses. It’s mouse-shaped pancakes and milk jug drums.

Moments of inspired and spontaneous creativity are the foundation of motherhood.

But still. Still I find that there is importance in finding moments of quiet for myself–whether it’s knitting needles in hand, sewing patches on torn jeans, or scribbling thoughts into a journal. And there is importance in setting aside intentional, deliberate creative time with my children.

Creativity changes the pace of our lives. It pulls us away from computer screens and television shows. It forces us to put down the laundry basket and pick up the pen or the paint or the scissors. It brings everyone around the table. It makes us available, accessible and present.

Creativity reconnects us with each other. While hands are busy, words become easy. Anger is tempered. Hurt feelings are eased. Everyone is included.

Creativity teaches how to make and make do. When toys are disposable and oversized stores carry everything from chewing gum to designer jeans, creative skills teach us to sew on a button, cover up a hole, or knit up our own dishcloths. Things are made, saved and preserved by the work of our hands.

Creativity leaves a handmade legacy. I often think about how I want to be remembered. Chained to my desk? Standing sour-faced over a sink of sudsy water? Or making and creating–rainbow crayons from broken ends and bright yellow sweaters with small wooden buttons?

Our creative life and the passion with which we pursue it will leave a long-lasting imprint on the lives of our children.

This past weekend, my children came up with a plan to begin selling our abundance of eggs at their own roadside stand. I watched as paints were dragged out, boards pulled from the box of scraps, hammers and nails pinched from their father’s toolbox. There was planning and painting (and repainting) and building. I saw my own words across the lips of the oldest as she reminded her sisters to put on a “junky shirt” so they could use the “staining paints”. I watched some of the same techniques we’d used the week before to make vegetable stakes for our garden go into the making of the egg signs. I watched hurt feelings dissolve between two sisters  shoulder to shoulder over a project–who just minutes before had been bickering over dolls.

Creativity is the soul of motherhood. And motherhood is the messiest, best, hardest, most-frustrating, rewarding, most heart-stopping creative project I have ever pursued.

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After a five year wait, Megan Reilly returns with her new album The Well, out April 24 (Carrot Top Records). Megan is a mother, artist and musician, her new record is inspired by these three facets of her life. Website :: Tumblr :: Sew the Threads into Your Heart – from her latest album.

When I was younger I was a visual artist. It wasn’t until about the age of fifteen I began playing guitar, writing songs and taking singing seriously. Music always inspired art for me. Many drawing and sculpture assignments were finished late in the night listening to the music that inspired me, eventually convincing me to drop out and pursue it. I was a Photography major in college. I loved sculpture and painting. I learned how to weld, gesso a canvas and think conceptually about what I was making. I studied Art History and I took every art elective possible until I had nothing left but Geology and Speech left to complete my degree.

When music took the place of art, I always felt something was missing. It felt difficult to balance them. Now that I’m a mother I’ve not only figured out how to juggle all I want to do (caffeine) but most importantly art has come back into my life. I made my kid a dollhouse and a puppet theater out of cardboard boxes, painted chalkboard paint on the walls of our apartment, learned to sew and I see how all of these things inspire me in a new way. And there’s no pressure. I feel productive and satiated. I thought it was just a distraction for a while. But the older I get the more I realize that who I am is someone that needs art to function. And having other creative outlets aside from music takes the pressure off songwriting.

I am not disciplined and that’s fine. Or maybe I’m disciplined to work like someone with attention deficit. I realized when making my most recent record with a 3yr old in the house, I worked whenever I could. I wrote a line of lyrics when she watched tv or was in preschool. Sitting down to make a quilt or puppet theater kept my mind busy and thinking creatively. I let go and the whole enchilada worked out and I made the best music of my life so far.

Years ago a teacher showed me Grandma’s Bottle Village-The Art of Tressa Prisbey. A lady in a moomoo digging through the junkyard to make art. She’s my inspiration.

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