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For our third Mothers Who Make blog voice teacher, playologist and storyteller Felicity Goodman discusses the struggles of balancing creativity with the seemingly never-ending demands of real life and the importance of embracing talent. Read her full piece below…
Here I am. Sat in bed. With a chest infection. We are now entering week 6 of me being ill in some way with a significant loss of income. Our bosses are getting impatient, our bank accounts are haemorrhaging, our house is a trail of paper, tissue, dust, food, paper, stickers and resembles a soft toy orphanage. Our children confused. Routine flying out the window, laughing and saying we can kiss its arse good bye.
So here I am.
I am here. And I’m thinking of all the ways that my life would be easier. If one of us had a job where we worked for someone else and it wasn’t a zero hours contract. If I could bite the bullet and work within an institution from 9-5, Monday to Friday. If we had been taught any form of marketing or business know-how or advice about life as a sole trader whilst we were both training at drama school. If I hadn’t worked a full day in a hot room full of excited children with a temperature. If I can be indestructible, infallible and nothing short of superhero status. I’d be a Super Immunity! Radiating health into our community! If, if, if, if…
But we don’t, can’t, didn’t, won’t, have tried and however much I wear my knickers over my leggings, a superhero I am not.
I’m not the first mother to have thoughts along these lines. I’m not the first creative to have thoughts along these lines. In fact, this is not even the first time that I have thought this, but here I am.
And I’m thinking of all of it. All of the things that shape our family, our community and our country and I am worried sick. I’m worried that sea levels are rising and yet governments pursue fracking. I’m worried about the stress that is placed on our teachers and an education system that strangles any nuance and individually out of children. I’m worried about the rise in bigotry and how to explain to my child that sometimes the bad guys win. I’m worried about mothers being unsupported and creativity being eradicated, preserved for the financial elite.
I’m a mother. And I make. If I was to take a objective look at my situation I would see that these times are not good times to be a mother or a creative. Neither seem to have economic value and therefore the value that either of these two things has is completely undermined and diminished. I’m tired. I’m tired of telling everyone the worth of creativity and motherhood when it seems so obvious. I’m sure plenty of readers would emphatically nod their heads and say “I agree” but the proof is in the pudding.
Once a month, at HOME, a truly fantastic group of talented women come, some with their children in their arms, and talk about what it is to be creative and a mother, what they want, why they want it. Every session leaves me feeling encouraged and supported and galvanised to dig deeper and keep making in anyway I can. However, what I think is a cause for concern is how many of those women feel completely invalidated. Not just in their work, or as a mother, but as a person.
Creativity is beautiful and the discoveries that you can find are endless. I have always been creative and it’s not just how I make money (HA! Good one.), it’s a way of life. It’s who I am and how I process things. I know what it is to watch that creativity go because I didn’t feel like I had the time or the space to inhabit it. I know the aftershocks of crushing my own creativity down and down till it was gone. My mind flipped. I was cast adrift and lost and my head threw in the towel. It ended with me writing on our wardrobe at 3 am and getting into the shower in my pyjamas. It ended with me frantically packing bags and requesting life jackets. The loss of creativity was not the cause of this psychosis. However I think the undermining of my processing structures made me stop dealing with life in a way that I knew how. Mothers Who Make got me back on that creative path and I can centre myself through the support of this community.
We are losing out on a fantastic pool of talent because creative mothers are struggling to find how to make it work. Artists, writers, actors, designers, photographers, directors. It’s an utter waste of time and resources. We are destroying a way of thinking that is intrinsic to who some people are. Art can make sense of things in a way that religion and politics cannot. It can provide a voice for things with no agenda, other than the voice being heard. If creative mothers are being stifled or unsupported then it surely can be no surprise that mothers from all walks of life feel totally irrelevant.
So if you know a mother artist, share her work. Ask her about it. What would she like to do? Is she doing it? Give her a ‘like’ on Facebook. If you can, buy her work. Go to her classes. Watch her films. Listen to her music. Share it meaningfully. You’re telling them that you see them, that they are there. You are not just helping your creative mum friend. Your helping all mothers.
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