I am writing this with a sleeping baby on my chest after a day of cheering at basketball and football games and then walking into my studio to check on the kilns. I pause and with care peek under coverings that have been laid over pieces so that they may dry slowly without cracking.. This is the blur for me, the careful but familiar fluency of my life where motherhood and creative entrepreneurship intertwine. I don’t have hard lines between the two but I do have a mantra, “be here.” Live presently and do your best. I wanted to write something in preparation for Mother’s Day, a day where we as womankind often feel many complex emotions. Something has happened to me over the years as I have greeted 10 mother’s days and 7 of those have been spent as a professional artist running a vibrant business, I have settled into my core roles and I have gained confidence in mothering and creating a business my own way.
This can’t really be something beyond encouraging you to do the same, live presently and have confidence in mothering and working at your craft in your unique and glorious way, a way that will meander and continue to shift and roll and may you come to awaken both the mother and the artist within you as your nourish both roles. Mind your life, it is wondrous and we are traversing ancient roles as Creators who are vessels for growing life and nourishing life-giving art. What gift, to have a whole world inside you.
I found a note I wrote to a friend when she anxiously told me she was pregnant with her second child and was nervous about her growing business and finding a way to care for her children and her business, these were some of the notes I put in my phone when she asked if I had any advice for her:
“Priorities and boundaries will become very important- the rest will fall into place or fall away.
Wherever you are, be there.
Expect your definition of success to shift.
Affirmations and empowering frames of mind will ground you.
Acknowledge your fears and speak them out loud.
Time away is not a bad thing. Rest. Care. These are important parts of creating too.
Your creative flow may not feel the same.
Prepare a list of things you would like to learn about or improve, just because the way you are able to work looks different doesn't mean you cannot continually grow.
You can do it all but not by yourself and not all in the same season, consider where you will accept help.
Quiet moments are very important both quiet as in soundless but also stillness.
Look at everything in nature… it never stays the same, what does it do to us then and the conception of ourselves if we don't appreciate the natural passage of time and our place and the opportunity to grow.”
There are flows to your time with your children and your work, recognize and honor them
I consider us a working family, not myself as a working mother. With practice we have all sort of settled into the routines that work best for our family. My family knows that if I am getting ready to release a collection, or most especially around the holiday months then some of the responsibilities that are normally mine fall to other people in our family. After an intense period of work I try hard to settle back to a more harmonious place. Going on individual special dates or having a small special moment with my kids like before bedtime, or a slow morning with their favorite breakfast also helps to restore some of the normal flow to our routines. When I am extra tired I have to really fight hard to be present in my life.
There are times I might feel overwhelmed and neglect the care of myself, our family home, or moments I normally prioritize like family dinner. Sometimes I find myself thinking it has to be a grand gesture or nothing at all but committing to a morning walk to move my body 3 days a week, or going to bed earlier twice a week, spending an hour doing the laundry and watching a show you enjoy, or putting together simple nourishing meals for 4 days a week seems manageable. In the moment sometimes it feels like you can’t take breaks or you’ll lose momentum but those I have found are exactly the times where it’s necessary to slow down and replenish. It will be easier to begin again when you have filled your own vessel.
I love being able to work from home but it also creates some chaos in our lives. To restore some order these are a few things that have helped at different seasons of motherhood and makerhood:
Communicating clearly and having a family meeting at the beginning of the week so we can get everyone where they need to go, plan ahead for things like book reports, and enable my husband and I support each other in our work recognizing that he may need the weekends for work so he’ll be more involved during the weekdays so that I can have some work at nights.
Hiring help with the kids, when my daughter Rosie was a toddler we had a babysitter on Fridays, it is amazing the amount of work you can get done and the flow you can get into when you have glorious hours all to yourself! I was hesitant to accept help with child care, for a variety of reasons including making sure my kids would be safe and lovingly cared for but we found a way that worked for our family. I have also heard of friends trading days to care for children so each gets a day for a playdate and then later the promise of a day to work while their friend is caring for the children. I find this lovely, encircling each other in our creative roles as well as our mothering. I have very dear friends who have cheered me on since the beginning and I think I would have found it more of a challenge to find my way.
Housework was one of the first things we arranged to have help with when my husband’s and my businesses began to grow. We hired a local business that schedules a team of cleaners to deep clean our home once a month. We then try to maintain the cleaning with a simple schedule in addition to the daily chores like picking up and doing dishes: Mondays everyone collects the trash to prepare for Tuesday trash day, Tuesday we each clean a bathroom, Wednesday we do laundry… If we fall behind we just do our best and begin again the next day.
Nourishment and Protection
I naturally like to be busy, motherhood also ensures that many of your daily moments are already accounted for. A kind word of advice: Protect your moments, your celebrations, and your rest. I do not subscribe to the hustle mentality, I try hard to create habits and systems that will improve my efficiency when it's time to work and then enjoy the moments right after when it comes time to nourish myself to begin again. Guard your stillness but also know you will probably be tired especially when your kids are small but the power lies in being able to recognize when you have gone too far and need to come back to yourself.
I’m certain you have heard of this thing called Mom guilt, and I have been working hard to reframe my mentality around this to heal from an idea that doesn't help and to also invite my children to be a part of what I do. My work helps my children see the world in a colorful way. Their eyes are being trained to see beauty in others and the world around them, their minds to creatively solve problems. My work provides money that I save for their futures, my gift enables future them to use their own unique gifts. My work gives them opportunities to see new parts of the beautiful world. My work shows them that hard work is something that is important to our family. My children have seen me fail and be a part of some very vulnerable moments. My work introduces them to another part of me beyond being their mother. I have other talents that I am developing and I am in a constant pattern of growth and becoming even when it comes from mistakes. Spending time in my studio bonds us but also there is the time I spend alone in my studio where a particular child may be on my mind and heart and the making and mending I do while I am guiding the clay helps me to make and mend myself and my relationships with my children. It becomes important to create from a place of abundance so I am continually trying to guard my reservoirs of energy, love, and time so I can create the highest work I am capable of but also a happy life with my children.
There is a work only you can do, this is your focus. Hire help when you recognize something isn't bringing you joy and is stealing your attention and energy- bookkeeping, website and brand design, shipping orders, customer care might all be places for you to accept help. I once heard a story about a mom who loved baking but was often distracted while she was doing it causing her to perpetually burn a batch of cookies. This woman wanting to share some cookies with her neighbors or friends would try again and this time keep a closer eye on the next batch of cookies and they’d usually turn out better than the first. This mom then offered her family the burnt cookies and would give her neighbors and friends the better batch. One such time after eating a batch of slightly scorched cookies her son yelled “why do we always get the burned cookies! I want one of the good ones just once!” Who are you offering the better cookies to and who is getting the less favorable batch of time, energy, or attention?
I believe there are so many right ways of finding your way in motherhood and your creative work. I have found it important to give both roles time and the best effort we have for that day knowing that as the sun rises again we get to begin again, improving upon the day before and with the hope that by small intentional acts great things will come to be.