The crucible of parenthood plunges us right into the heart of the fire. And hammers us into a finer version of ourselves. Eventually. But while it’s happening…oh my!
We wrap our lives around our babies, creating a womb outside the womb for them so they can grow. Making safety and belonging and nourishment and home for them. We give them our imperfect selves and pray that that’s enough.
In the process, we stretch and grow beyond anything we thought was possible. We fall short in mortifying ways. We feel passionate and guilty, terrified and torn — and never get enough sleep or time or support or gratitude for the largely unsung work we do.
It’s the ultimate creative process. And it can feel like mind-numbing drudgery. Or like a primal war between our longing to surrender to the service of parenting, and our need to hold onto our innermost selves.
How do you find room for creative process, in the midst of this?
I don’t have any ready answers. But I have faith that you can forge a path for yourself. One that honors your creative spirit and serves your children too.
In hindsight, here are some things that worked for me, most of the time. Maybe something in this list will spark ideas or insights that are helpful for you.
- Keep things simple. Children don’t need a lot — mostly just love, care, nourishment, sovereignty and shelter. Pajama days are good. So’s fun and silliness and not taking things too seriously. Oh, and play.
- As much as possible, flow with your kids’ rhythm and timing. Experience the world the way they do. You’ll discover the beauty of bread crumbs. And ants. And other tiny, fascinating things.
- Get as much sleep as you can. Take naps when your kids are napping.
- Ask for help. Say ‘yes’ to every offer of support. If you have money, use it to buy yourself time, space, room to breathe. If you don’t have money, be creative — trade your skills for childcare, massages, food for your freezer.
- Know that your children’s lives belong to them. Treat them with respect. Just because their bodies are small and dependent, doesn’t mean their souls are too.
- Know that your life belongs to you. Treat yourself with respect. Reconnect with your own soul, and with your Source, each day. This doesn’t have to be a sit-down-and-meditate kind of thing. You can connect in the middle of making dinner. Or any time, really. Just by turning to embrace your soul, entering the sanctuary of your heart, feeling your feelings, remembering your wholeness.
- Make friends with your kids’ souls. They are your best allies. Show your children how to stay connected to their wholeness too.
- Give your kids space and time to be alone. They’re here to discover themselves and their world. They can’t do this if you hover.
- Being a parent will bring out whatever lives within you — every family pattern, each piece of unfinished business, every unexamined emotion will come roaring forth, often during times of stress and pressure. Be prepared for this. Remind yourself, you’re not a monster. You’re not three years old, and you’re not your mother or your father or your Aunt Mildred either. Although your apprenticeship in parenting will probably include times when you’re channeling all of the above.
- Have a daily practice of energy hygiene. Yes, some days you won’t have time to brush your teeth. But trust me, it really pays to take an energy shower a couple of times a day.
- Your children will do what you do — not what you say or what you think they should do. Take time each day to be quiet and to reconnect with yourself. Pray or do yoga or drink a cup of tea and watch the clouds go by. Make your inner world a priority. Fill yourself up with whatever nourishes you. Make this an ordinary part of your day together. If you’re relaxed and happy, your kids will be too.
- You may not have time for the kind of creative work that requires sustained concentration, energy and attention. Make peace with that. In a few years, your children will no longer be children. Pay attention to the creative Presence within you, and open your heart to its expression in everyday moments. When you’re cooking. Or reading to your kids. Or singing or wiping runny noses.
- Creativity is soul-food because it nourishes Wholeness, and restores belonging. When you know you belong to yourself first, you’ll create a lap of belonging for your kids, and your muse.
Phew! This isn’t meant to be a list of shoulds — just some things that worked for me. Your own list will probably look very different from mine.
I’d love to hear what works for you. How do you walk your creative path with a toddler or a teen? Or while you’re parenting a business, for that matter?