Friday, October 21

52 Weeks of Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood: An Introduction

photo courtesy of google images

This is the beginning, the first post, in a yearlong pursuit to integrate more creativity into my day-to-day life as a mom: 52 Weeks of Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood. 

I’ve hemmed and hawed about whether or not I should make such a big commitment because the type-A part of me will certainly be frustrated if I don’t follow through.  However, after much consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is important, and worthwhile, and will hopefully impact not just mine, but my family’s life, for the better. 

 I’ve always considered myself a “creative” person. As a little girl I could be found drawing, learning to crochet with my grandmother, asking my mom for pottery kits at Christmastime and spending time on needlepoint projects in 5th grade. I loved colors and crafts, patterns and projects. Art classes fueled something inside of me that no other pursuit could tangibly accomplish. I wrote poems to my parents and friends, drew pencil drawings of tigers for family members, and spent hours making ornaments and yarn angels for craft shows.  My dad still has one of my pencil drawn sunflowers hanging in his bedroom.  

In recent years my creativity has been mostly focused on writing projects and craft projects with the kids in the limited free time that I've had. But, in the last two years, I've found myself too tired even for that on some days. 

This parenting gig, you know,  it’s kind of a big deal and a serious time commitment. If you can't "do it all" (and really, who can?!) it's often the things we love the most (after our kids, of course!) that begin to feel irrelevant and have to be sidelined. Children don’t tend to respond well when you tell them that there’s no dinner or clean socks for the next three days because you have a paper mache project begging to be finished.  

I’m kidding. 

Kind of. 

The reality is that when I first became a mom I was incredibly enthusiastic about a lot of things; especially craft projects that helped to pass the long hours at home with toddlers and preschoolers .  I took my creative instincts, marched myself into Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics and the craft aisle at Target and started buying crafty paraphenalia like it was nobody’s business; markers, crayons, paint, sequins, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, craft sticks, stickers, scrapbook supplies, colored paper, beads, yarn, seven different kinds of glue, blank greeting cards…you name it, I bought it. 

The sky was the limit and craft stores offered me an endless array of options for filling what were sometimes very long days.  We painted, made collages, stuck foam craft kits together, attempted homemade bracelets, mod podged things like leaves to the the side of baby food jars to make seasonal votives, dumped glitter and glue onto construction paper, chalk drawings on black card stock…the list goes on. Fortunately, at that point, either Pinterest hadn’t totally taken off or I was living in too much of a bubble to pay attention, otherwise we might have had to declare bankruptcy due to craft store expenditures. 

But then one day, about two years ago, I walked into Michael’s on a random afternoon and was no longer enthusiastic about being there.  As I roamed up and down the aisles that evening,  I realized how tired, unenthusiastic, and overwhelmed I was. Was this the simply a case of the craft store blues or something bigger that I needed to pay attention to? Who knew a case of subtle depression could come to a head in the bead aisle?!  I didn’t want to buy one more thing. Not one more! It no longer represented possibilities, but potential messes. Lots of them. I didn’t want to buy the stuff, store the stuff, or clean the stuff up. I was DONE! 

In part I was just really tired. Aubrey, our third daughter was one and the day-to-day grind of meeting the needs of three kiddos had taken its toll. I wasn’t reading very much (one of my favorite pastimes), I dreamed of writing something more structured than a tired journal entry at the end of the day, and there were unfinished house projects and never-ending piles of mess everywhere I looked.

 I was in a bit of a funk. 

Scott and I have joked that after having baby #1 we eventually found a new normal. After having baby #2 we also, eventually, found a new normal. Can you guys what happened after baby #3? Never found it. No "new normal". Or, perhaps we actually did find it, but weren't sure we liked the pace of it. The no sleep, never ending domestic tasks, around the clock parenting responsibilities. We both got a little cranky for a while. 

Quite frankly, I can’t say that things have changed that much since then, except that we’ve adjusted to life as a family of five and we’re getting a little bit more sleep…well, once in a while we get a little more sleep. Our littlest one somehow finds herself in our bed way more than her big sisters ever did, but somehow because she's the "baby" we can't bear to send her back to her own bed!  

The truth is that despite adjusting to the busier family dynamics I’ve grown much more comfortable, content and confident in my role as mother.  I’ve done a lot of deep spiritual work over the last two years and can honestly tell you I feel a deeper sense of peace about life in general. God has healed places in my heart that I didn’t even know needed healing and I’m humbled by it and grateful for it. 

I’m not sure how all or this ties together, except that two weeks ago, when I attended the Breathe Writers Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan and then several days later  when I had the opportunity to see Finding Neverland with my husband, a sense of urgency for the creative was reignited in my spirit. In both instances I was awed by the power of the creative and compelled to craft a more creative life for both myself and my family. 

This project came out of those moments of inspiration. 

I started a list of “creative pursuits” in my journal and have been reading our newspaper's  entertainment section with a renewed fervor. In recent years I would read through the list of plays, readings, and art shows in a given week and merely think about how it 'might be fun' to attend such outings. Rarely would I make the time to actually do so. Over the next year however, as part of this project,  I am committed to finding 52 creative things to do--basically, one per week, though they may not fall into place with consistent weekly structure. We'll see. 

I decided to cut myself some slack and allow the writing conference and the play (Finding Neverland) to count as part of my 52 things--so, 50 more to go!  I plan to bring the girls alongside on some of the jaunts and other things will be more solitary pursuits. The reality is that some weeks may simply be a coloring page from an "adult" coloring book. Nevertheless, I am committed to spending at least an hour each week doing something creative I would not have otherwise tried. 

I will post photos once a week here and on Facebook. I should probably figure out how to use Instagram, but that’s a conversation (perhaps a creative endeavor!) for another day. 

There are a lot of other things on my mind in regards to all of this creativity stuff; great quotes, books I want to read, and deeper questions I’ve been pondering like “Is creativity a calling?” and “Is it worthwhile when there are so many important matters and responsibilities to spend our time on?” 

I can tell you that my initial answers are “Yes,” and “Yes!” but, more to come on that. 

I hope you’ll join me in the journey. Read along, craft along, decide to do something crazy and creative yourself. I believe that God, in His infinite creativity created all of us with a creative spirit. Not only is the pursuit of creativity, in any form,  a way to discover things about yourself, but it can be an opportunity for fellowship as well. Perhaps most importantly, if our creativity is heavenly and holy minded it can bring a much needed beauty into the world-- a beauty that reflects the glory of God. 

Our world could use a little bit more beautiful right now. 

So, here's to crafting our way to a happier, and hopefully somehow holier, creative life. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Sharing thoughts is a valuable part of the motherhood community. Please share your thoughts, suggestions and ideas based on posts.