My brain never stops. I am constantly being pulled in a thousand directions. Kids crying, smiling, planning, playing. Cleaning, cooking, shopping, doing. Oh and keeping connected with my better half and ever distant close friends. It never ends. A constant cycle of ups and downs and then of course there are the days were it all spins around. Then add to that the need, the drive, the continual push to create and you have suddenly reached a point of full capacity where there are just not enough hours in a day. It is not humanly possible to achieve every single goal but that doesn't stop us from putting in 110% in the hopes that against all odds we are going to make all of our dreams come true. Wow. I'm exhausted just writing that.
Does this sound familiar to anyone? It's hard. But we do it. Because we are Artists and Parents and there is no other way. We are over the moon for our children and devote our lives to them but every bone in my body also aches to get back into the studio and make it happen. We are all in different seasons of life. If you are or have ever been in the season where I am now you understand. Utter exhaustion some days. Pure joy sometime throughout most. Being humbled, frustrated, anxious, and excited all rolled into one. Raising small children, let alone raising small children and trying to wrap your head around being a full-time artist is no joke. There are days when I just want to throw my hands in the air and scream, "I give up" but I don't because those words are not in my vocabulary.
This post is for all those out there who are wondering how to make it all work. You may be an Artist who is a Parent or one who has to juggle three jobs to make your work. Or maybe you are an Artist, Parent, and have multiple jobs? You may not even be creative but happen to have dreams of greater things. It is a question of who among us has the energy and drive to pursue them against all odds. As an Artist I can honestly say that I don't have a choice. If I don't act on my creative energy, it will eat me alive. I have to get it out. No other way to survive. Can anyone relate? I'm sure there are those of you that can and then there may be others that have no clue what I am referring to. If so, lucky you. It's hard. But we want it all and will not be happy any other way.
Sometimes I find myself calculating just how much sleep I really need. With small children there are plenty of sleepless nights or nights of interrupted sleep if you are lucky. Then there are the nights where sleep is magically gifted to you and you wake up feeling more drained then ever. Your body so unfamiliar with the concept of that much sleep, it suddenly registers just how much you are lacking. But nonetheless I set my alarm one hour earlier than the kids normal wake up time to maybe work on my recent brainstorm only to hear someone cry out just before the alarm goes off. Okay, stay up late. That's the plan. Burn the midnight oil. Let the creativity pour out to the hum of the baby's noise machine. That could work. Until your head finally hits that pillow and your brain won't stop. When it does you are called in to one room or another for some sleep issue that has not yet resolved. Sleep - who needs it anyways?
Some days I am lucky enough to have a few hours in the afternoon to "work". It takes a village, right? When those villagers lend a hand and I'm given a window I better have a french press full of strong coffee ready to go. And I do. I sip coffee and get down to business. These days it's mostly the business of laying the groundwork in terms of professional aspects of being an artist. Update social media, blog posts, book planning, invoices, applications, web site updates, and so much more.
Every so often, the stars align, and I get to work on my artwork. Oh joy of joys. It is like being reacquainted with a long lost friend. Or better yet your soul mate - because it really is my whole body and soul that pours into my work. Everything that builds up in my head while I am singing my baby to sleep (for the third time) in the middle of the night finally gets a chance to transform from thought to image. Amazing. That's how it feels when it comes to be. And that's what makes it all worthwhile. Actively creating is nothing short of a miracle these days but oh how it is all worth it.
I left my tenure track teaching job, blasphemous some would say, to focus on my artwork "full-time" and to of course not miss out on a single moment with my children. Hoping upon hope that the two full-time positions I had just signed up for would somehow magically fall into sync and create balance in my life. The two roles have been less than equal, motherhood taking up far more of my time, no surprise there. But I wouldn't have it any other way.
I am so blessed to have a wonderful home, a supportive loving husband who happens to also be my best friend, and the cutest, smartest, sweetest children in the world (as all are when seen through a mother's eyes). I am beyond grateful for all that I have. And as the days pass and I feel like I am moving through molasses in my studio, I just take a deep breath and remind myself of that. Trading in expectation for appreciation I find peace and realize that it is possible to have it all - it just can't happen all at once. All in good time they say, all in good time. Until then I will keep up the juggling act and push beyond my limits - each day remembering to soak up all the gifts life has bestowed upon me. But at the same time reminding myself not to give up on the dream. Never settle. Because yes, while it may be hard at times, beyond a doubt I am an Artist and a Parent and yes I want it all.