When I was young, I never really considered myself an “artist” or a “writer” or really anything other than what I was, which was an okay student, who loved to write but also had a passion for dance and theatre. I was quite aware that the goal in life would be to “make money” and “be successful” and so while I knew I loved writing, I loved dancing, and I loved acting, they would be my hobbies, while I searched for a “real” job I could do to make money. To be frank, I wanted to be an artist, but I didn’t know how I could do that and support the family I always knew I wanted.
Fast forward to just about a decade after my high school graduation, as I’m panting on a hospital bed ready to push my firstborn into the world, and I’ll tell you what, that was the closest to an “artist” that I’ve ever felt. All this time and energy put into creating something and then bringing it into the world. If that’s not art, I don’t know what is. That moment alone, though, didn’t quite shape the rebirth of myself as a creative type. What that moment did was show me was that there was something bigger than myself at work. That amazing things could come through me if only I’d let them.
Learning to care for the well being of another human more than I do myself (like really, really care MORE for that tiny person than I ever could care for myself) helped open me up to a vulnerability that I cannot describe. Certainly losing that person (my first daughter died of SIDS at 3 ½ months of age), as Emeril Lagasse would say, “kicked it up a notch.” In my opinion, an artist, or a writer, or anyone involved in the arts, has the ability, and possibly a need to be publicly vulnerable.
Becoming a mom does not automatically make you an artist. However, I have found that for most women, the profound act of becoming a mother and being pushed to flex the creative muscle in a new and different way cracks open any inkling of artist that ever once existed in your life. Sometimes that artist directs her creativity solely into her parenting, and that is more than okay, but sometimes the art is bursting out every which-where and she needs a blog, or a dance class, or more people to cook for, or a place to just be who she IS. There’s no right way or wrong way, there is only the way back to yourself – and however you get there is an important victory. So go there, now, and don’t look back, because going there in turn will make you a better mother.