I just read a very interesting post over at Inner City Garden. It's all about how to balance motherhood and artistic pursuits. And it really struck a chord with me.
A week or so ago, I picked up a book at the local library called Fruits of Labour: Creativity, Self-Expression and Motherhood. The book was published in England but features writers from the UK, US and here. I found it to be a very, very interesting read.
It's essentially several different takes on the same issue: how exactly do you balance your need to be a creative, expressive individual with all the demands of motherhood and the resulting change of identity it brings?
Most of the stories are, to be honest, a little depressing - because it reinforces what we suspect: that this is no easy ride. But some are pretty illuminating, showing how children can bring out a new side to your personality and therefore open up a new realm of creativity.
Here are a couple of random excerpts.
"...All creative women with children carry an extra layer of responsibility which creates the need for a constant balancing act. Being creative can sustain you but if you are too busy, things begin to unravel. One tends to think that if one hadn't had children then none of this would be a problem, but I cannot imagine who I would be now without my daughters. There would have been no boundaries to my obsessiveness and I suspect I would have lived a much more seedy and excessive kind of existence. I would have lost my emotional tent pegs." (Julia Darling)
"Many mothers find time for themselves through sleeplessness or, when sleeping, have revealing dreams. That clever dreamlife works away, helping the artist." (Jacqueline Morreau)
"I have not had time to read as much as childless artists or to question my work as often ... Limited time has made me learn to be decisive, which has benefited my creativity." (PJ Crook)
"Was it greedy to have children, a stake in the future, genetic continuity, unconditional love given and received? The humour and irreverent curiosity that they bring? As I build my fifth sandcastle, I look at the man asleep under his newspaper while his wife gets buried in the sand. I wonder if the pleasure of children is something only creative men can afford." (Beeban Kidron)