I am excited to bring to you today a guest post by the lovely Lesley Eaton from Peppered Paper. Lesley creates beautifully vibrant collages out of paper that is splashed with spills and splatters from her painting process. She creates these works whilst caring for her two young sons. Here she shares with us her thoughts on her artist journey and learning to let go of expectation as a mother artist.
In one of my first blog posts as a mama I mention the idea of this blurry stage of motherhood. I think I was referring to the newborn stage/ nursing stage/ toddler stage/ bringing home baby brother stage/ repeat... but five years later I still can't seem to reign in focus for any consistent period of time. So, with an almost four-year-old and a five-year-old, I still feel very much in that blurry stage. Maybe it has to do with lack of sleep, the continuous reel of questions from two little boys demanding answers, not ever knowing what to expect next in motherhood, or what to prepare for dinner for that matter; it seems this blurry stage may be a little bit more long term than I anticipated. And, if I'm being honest, I had no idea what to anticipate. It seems impossible to express and to really comprehend beforehand that both the greatest joys and struggles come with the title of mom.
One of my recurring struggles as a mama has to do with claiming the title of artist. I often hear myself saying things like, "I'm an artist, but I have two little boys at home." I don't even know my intent saying this, but it certainly sounds like I'm saying, "I'm an artist, but not really." Or, "I'm an artist, but let me make sure you know the hard work I'm doing is at home, and also that's why I look so tired." I'm working on being able to say, "I'm an artist." Period.
I am an artist. I am a mama. I'm truly convicted that neither calling is a mistake. And now, part of that calling seems to be reconciling the two. I keep having to remind myself of the wisdom someone recently passed along saying that balance is not a reasonable goal. She explained that there would be times when the mom job would place significantly more demands on me than the other roles in my life would, and vice versa. So, I'm working on letting go of my expectations that everything should be perfectly balanced, and easy. I'm learning to embrace the idea that there is much more ebb and flow, ups and downs, than perfectly maintained equilibrium. This is much easier said than done for me. I want it all. I want to be full time mom, full time artist, preparing home cooked meals every night, baking and crafting with the kids, gardening, with a perfectly clean house all the time. I know, you can laugh with/ at me for still desiring a clean house all the time.
All this to say, while it still is, and likely always will be, a huge struggle for me to let go of some of my desires and perfectionist tendencies, I'm slowly starting to appreciate the beautiful push motherhood has given me to embrace my calling as an artist, to confidently claim the title, to fight for my creative self and to make space to keep growing and expressing. Acknowledging that at times these spaces will be in little spurts with lots of interruptions, and at other times giving myself the freedom to make big pushes, asking for lots of help in the form of babysitters and boxes of mac n' cheese. And knowing when I need to close up shop for a bit, like when we welcome our third baby this summer!, that I will be expected back when the time is right, to push through struggles and expect great joy and fulfillment creating as I was created to, as an artist and a mother.
Are you an artist balancing motherhood and art? Join our community and tag your art with the hashtag #artistmeetsmother.
If you have a post you would like to share with the readers of my blog about your experiences as a mother artist please get in touch. I would love to hear from you.