Saturday, October 2

"What kills you, Mom?"

Telling at the International Storytelling Center
in Jonesborough, TN in July, 2004.
Today was one of those days when it seems like I just couldn't get done the things that I really wanted to get done.  I almost typed, " of those days where you don't get anything done."  but that isn't true.  I went to the Farmer's Market (terrible turn-out today... I need to look up the closing week.  It makes me sad.) and bought honey and okra.  I went to the store and bought a rug, drawer liner, new oven mitt (no egg poacher... what's up with that?) for the kitchen.  I cleaned out my kitchen drawers and put in the new liners (yellow- so happy!) and mopped the kitchen floor. 

Then I spent forever trying to put in a bling hem on my new pants with my sewing machine.  I did one leg and then I had to pick it out and start over.  So I gave up and decided to fix the hem on a shirt that I really like, only to discover that there wasn't anything wrong with the hem- there was a flaw in the fabric and it was a rip that couldn't be fixed.  I ended up using the shirt to make a pair of black tights for Sweet Caroline, but she fell asleep before I could try them on her.  I have another shirt I'd like to make tights out of, but I want to make sure the fit is right, first.  I made dinner, and did dishes and did some water colors with Jonah (his first time) and played with Sweet Caroline.  

And yet I am feeling frustrated this evening.  I am trying to pinpoint why I feel this way and the only thing I can come up with is that my time was being constantly hijacked by some little requests for juice, or for a light to be turned on, or to be fed or picked up, or dinner made.  I don't begrudge my family my time- but, do they get all of it?  

I was browsing the interwebs the other night and came upon a great preview for a film that I would love to see.  It's called Who Does She Think She Is.  It's about mothers who are also artists and the barriers that they run up against in trying to be successful in their artistic pursuits.  

Do you know what I really wanted to do today?  Sit and read through a few folktales that I have been wanting to learn.  I wanted to sit and learn how to make a blind hem without the constant interruptions.  I wanted to take the brush from my son's hand and do my own watercolors.  

It is any wonder that my temper was short at the end of the day?  Caroline was asleep and I was trying to finish up her tights.  I was talking to Josh and I said, "It just kills me that I can't seem to get anything done today."  And there was Jonah, his little ears always on alert.  He asked me, "What kills you Mom?"

Does it kill me?  Is part of me just going to shrivel up if I stop trying to pursue the creative side of myself?


I had a conversation on facebook with some friends about the animosity that some women are subjected to because they choose to try to pursue their art and Amy, who I went to college with answered. 

 "Animosity comes from the assumption that pursuing a career while being a mom is some kind of denial of God-given role, desiring to compete with man for economic power. What people don't realize is that mothers who are artists are driven by a deep desire to actually do exactly what the naysayers are expecting her to do: fulfill a deep-seeded role, God-given role. Everything in the mother-artist cries out to share her God-given gifts, especially with her children. To go through life not allowing her children to be be nourished by such an important gift feels like she's not living up to her potential, and thus cheapening their childhood. It has little to do with self-fulfillment; it has everything to do with feeding the creative soul of the next generation.  The problem lies in the voices of the naysayers, stuck in the back of our minds, wondering 'Are they right? Am I selfish? Am I kidding myself that I have a gift?'

When I start feeling like that [resentful], I realize it comes from  comparing myself, even subconsciously to other womens' seemingly perfect routines and family life. But every family dynamic is so different - and I have to do what is best for MY family. I can't make the same choices other women make for their families and expect them to work for MINE.  If I really look at where the resentment is coming from, I realize I'm not resenting my children, but the supposed little box I'm feel like I'm supposed to be directing my family into in order to have that ideal homelife. For the sake of my family, I long to be true to who God made me to be, and to glorify Him through it all - "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men..." 
But so often I feel like I'm working for "men" (man's ideals of womanhood) rather than who God really truly blessed me to be. 

I've been re-reading the 
Little House books - Farmer Boy stands out to me because of Mrs. Wilder and her butter business. She was just so crafty and independent about it, without putting on any airs. It was something she was good at, she was regarded for it, it served her community and her family. No big deal. Why can't we see art as useful a commodity as butter?

And we all know those women who HAVE sacrificed their families in vain pursuit - and we all grew up knowing we never, ever EVER wanted to be anything like that. It's scary to tread in these waters that, to those who don't understand, look so much like those of vain pursuits of self-glory we find abominable. The easier road is to just not try."

And she's right.  It's easier to stop trying, to just feel resentful but ignore it.  Instead I find myself with a very difficult challenge- to find new ways to make time for creative pursuits while still caring for two small children.  The challenge is enough to terrify and exhaust me before I even get started, and yet the idea of simply giving up is equally unappealing.  

Maybe I don't have 40 hours in a week that I can sit and read through folktales to learn new stories, but I can be very careful to pick out good books for my kids at the library to get ideas for stories I may want to tell.  I can go to bed early and get up before everyone else so I have time to do my morning pages.  I can take full advantage of the quiet during nap time (which currently coincides for both of my children, for at least an hour) and plot out stories, or learn new sewing skills.  

I think I can do this.  

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