Thursday, September 5, 2013

An Open Letter to the Mother-Artist

A stunning painting by Katie M. Berggren entitled "Where We Are"

You are an artist. You are a mother. And, as a result, you are now many, many more things than you ever thought yourself capable. You may have been a mother before feeling the call of artistry. You may have recognized yourself as an artist before ever feeling that nudge toward maternity. Your artist's arrival may have been a surprise, just as your child or children may have been. Regardless, you now live in the world of the precarious. The world where enough of you never feels like enough.

Your children laugh, call out, cry, question. They run and play and require your eye that craves to watch them grow and learn, all the while craving to turn to the artist and allow her eye to rove, to capture, to create. Yet both eyes cannot be active at once. It becomes a daily struggle, a daily decision of being wholly mother or wholly artist--or, the ultimate sacrifice, wholly neither. You divide your attention, your time, your inner energy to both. Yet the division results in your efforts feeling lackluster and feeble and sub-par. By dividing yourself you feel as though everything suffers.

The only alternative to dividing yourself is to quit mothering or quiet your inner artist--neither a viable option. Both alternatives would leave you hollow; a warped, cracked window that doesn't fit its frame and through which the wind whistles a low, sad song.

Yet, while you battle for balance--the dividing line of mother and artist fluid and unfixed--one unexpected day your children let go of your hand, stop requiring your adoring eye to watch. This release is both painful and freeing. You feel a wider range of motion and that is as painful as the limited range of motion you once had, as painful as the guilt you once felt over the time spent filling your canvas rather than with your children, as painful as the resentment you felt over the time asked of you by your children when your page stood empty.

To every freedom there is a season. That freedom so often seems paired with its own unique pain. This pain is what you chose when you divided yourself, and it is a pain of growth rather than of confinement. By choosing to be both mother and artist you have grown beyond boundaries, stretched beyond perceived limitations. By simply making that choice to play both roles you have conquered what many do not.

Mother-Artist, fight away the feelings of doubt and guilt. Resist that venomous voice in your head that says you aren't enough. Turn away from those who push on the pain you already feel in an attempt to make you leave your art behind. Erase the word "indulgence" that keeps appearing each time you shut the door to the sounds of childhood and allow your artist to breathe. 

Close your eyes and listen to the quiet song that sings of the legacy you are creating.

By your life you are teaching your children to dream. To work hard. To believe in their own God-given abilities. To trust that tug within that pulls them toward the blank page, the empty canvas, the resonant chords, or whatever direction that innate aesthetic gravitational pull leads. To be brave in the face of uncertainty and insecurity. To wrestle into balance both work and play, personal and professional, mother and artist. And one day they will understand the battle you fought, and they will choose to follow. You are creating the Mother-Artists of tomorrow because today you chose to be one.

You are a mother. You are an artist. You are a multi-faceted woman of vision and hope and strength. Don't give up. Your work is beyond important, it is essential. Hold tight to that.

                                                                                              From your fellow Mother-Artist,
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  1. Absolutely stunning. Arresting. Brilliant, dear Mother-Artist Writing Buddy. Dear Friend :)

    1. Thank you, dear Karen. You came to mind often while writing this. xoxo


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