Creativity, Children, and Chaos

There are toys everywhere! You just tripped over a block tower and landed on a lego that you swear left a hole in the bottom of your foot. The baby is crying and someone is screaming “mom” from another room and you don’t have the time to tend to your crazy-expensive-plastic-toy wound, let alone create anything.

“Don’t let yourself get discouraged if you have yet to figure out how to read a chapter of a book, or how to cook dinner with a screeching 2 year old attached to your leg. It takes practice.”

We aren’t born with the ability to navigate life with tiny people and all of the chaos they bring with them. Don’t let yourself get discouraged if you have yet to figure out how to read a chapter of a book, or how to cook dinner with a screeching 2 year old attached to your leg. It takes practice.

It’s easier with your second kid than it was with your first, and with my fourth little wee one lying in my lap nursing as I write this, I can assure you it only gets easier. All you need is more practice.

You will learn how to quickly wipe paint off your hands to pour a bowl of cereal, how to drop a thought mid-sentence to kiss a boo boo only to come back and pick up right where you left off. I remember the days of needing a block of time (hours not minutes) of silence in order to create even a single art journal. This block of time could either happen on the weekend when daddy was available to take them to a park, or required a sitter… Which meant time, effort, and money to arrange. Needless to say, I wasn’t making very many things.

A creatrix that isn’t creating leaves too much space for sadness to creep in. I had to find a solution. Time went on and I kept practicing. I kept picking up the paintbrush even though I knew I’d be interrupted at least a hundred times before I got my base color(s) down. I kept picking up the camera, hundreds of images lost to camera shake (it’s not easy holding steady with a nursling climbing in your lap and helping themselves). I kept reading, and I kept writing, and I kept on making things… And I noticed something: it was getting easier. Sure, there was a lot of frustration in the beginning, as I was learning to abstract the noise and the chaos, before I had grown in my ability to quickly and gracefully recover from each interruption. I didn’t let those frustrations discourage me, I kept pushing forward. There is no other option for me, I must create. So I kept trying.

And now I find myself here, in this much cozier space, with 4 unschooled littles and a photography business that absolutely hinges on my ability to get shit done. Distractions that once took me 5 or 10 minutes to recover from now take just a few seconds. I can remain “in the flow” in a house buzzing with frenzied activity.

This takes balance. Presence. Awareness.

Just as I cannot afford to let my family take away from my creative work, I cannot afford to let my creative work take away from my family. I must remain in the moment with both my creations and my children or the tension of the imbalance will begin to be felt. Part of maintaining that balance is remembering that both work and family need regular, dedicated time and energy. The kids and I need play dates, and outings, and to work on projects together… And I need to, on occasion, send the kids to the park with another adult that adores them, turn up my music, and paint.