If you are a mother, you have already partnered with God to create something of real eternal significance. I can think of few things more inspiring and hopeful than the natural love of a mother for her child.
And yet, many women avoid the opportunity, being aware that the weight of its responsibility may stamp out their other creative ambitions. Some women live out their motherhood defeated by inadequacy or striving to mold themselves and their children in to the picture of another’s success.
As an artist and a mother of three, I am interested in creative motherhood. This is a life- giving style of feminine leadership that doesn’t resign itself to just getting by but, even in the most mundane of tasks creates something bigger than herself and her children. This type of living requires confronting fear and resistance. It rises to the occasion and discovers the door to a world of possibility.
Without courage, our love pales into mere dependency. Without courage our fidelity becomes conformism. – Rollo May
In my short four years of motherhood, I’ve experienced both success and failure at living the sort of picture I dream of. These are some elements of creative motherhood I’ve collected, to keep me growing towards my goal.
A Creative Mother Knows Her Limits
It is a lie too often propagated that people will be the most creative when they are free of restraint. On the contrary, creativity feeds on overcoming limitations. Without limits, there are few reasons to be creative. It is when a compelling problem, need or curiosity motivates the mind that one really begins to make new connections and discoveries. In the process, we may learn that our limits are not where we thought they were! Or perhaps we may find a wall that we did not know existed. Either way we have made great strides.
As a mother, I continually ask God to help me know my true limitations. This requires insight, trial and error. It gets at the heart of what it means to be a woman, a mother, and a keeper of the home. What foundational truths and designs am I given in scripture to build upon? What models, ideals or patterns might I be holding myself to without real cause? What expectations am I free to cast aside in the name of creating something new?
Quit the complaining and thank God for the constraints that come with having children. Embrace the unexpected hurdles that are thrown your way each day. They are hand selected limitations to inspire your growth in the right direction.
A Creative Mother Collaborates
I most often prefer to work alone. In my own little world, ideas make sense and flow freely and fluently the way I intend. Communication barriers and interruptions are irritating, but they come with the territory of a small child. Mothers have a choice when it comes to creativity. We can divide our time between “mommying” and “making” or we can try our best to integrate the two.
Creative mothers must realize the importance of collaboration. Working together with our children, though challenging, promises a bountiful reward. I am learning to clearly explain what I do, to think out loud and to simplify tasks. I am training partners with unified vision and forming an impact much greater than my own. In each new endeavor, I try to imagine how I can better involve my children. I know I will be a much stronger creator when I am skilled at collaborating with them.
A Creative Mother Puts Her House to Work
I wish I could count the number of times I have heard a woman say that she must leave the home in order to pursue this or that creative endeavor because there is simply “too much to do” at home. Believe me, I sympathize! I know well the silent screams of a house that needs primping, piles that need dispersing and chores that stand undone. But the truth of the matter is that the woman who allows these things to drive her out of the home, or to consume all her time while she is in the home is no longer ruling her home, but being ruled by it. When I realize I am chasing that ever moving target of completion at home, sometimes I have to step back and remind myself who’s boss. Do you work for your house or does your house work for you?
A Creative Mother Feeds Herself
Every mama knows the drill. To feed the baby you have to feed yourself. As hard as you might try to cut the corner there is simply no way around it. This is a beautiful element of God’s design for the mother/child relationship. In the earliest months of their development, a child’s nutrition and growth is a perfect mirror of their mothers. I believe it should serve as a potent reminder that we cannot lead our children well where we do not go ourselves.
If you wish to be an inspirational force of creativity in your home you must actively seek out inspiration for yourself. This can be a challenge and it may look very different in varied seasons of motherhood. Know that it is worthwhile to place a high value on your own personal growth. Some days that growth means learning to find common things inspiring in a way you’ve never looked at them before. Other days you should spend valuable resources to feed the interests of your soul in a fresh way.
A Creative Mother Works Out
It will not matter how excited and inspired you are if you fail to get down to the business of making. This point can at once be the easiest and the most difficult of tasks.
I have often thought that one of the great blessings of children is that they will not allow me to sit around for long. I am far too prone to waste time in fruitless musings, or worse – a sleepy stare. Children like to keep busy and I find that when I am with them I often get more done just because of the pace of activity that they set. Not to mention the motivation toward efficiency when I know I only have a few minutes of undivided attention to give each task. If you have little ones you can praise the Lord for the healthful workout you are ensured each day.
Now for the challenge. Motherhood is a moment by moment exercise in harnessing all this energy to create something fruitful. This requires vision, diligence, and discipline. The fruit is slow in coming, and focus can be a challenge because sometimes the end goal is only somewhat clear. But masterpieces are not painted in the first stroke of paint. If you want to create something excellent in time, you’ve got to get busy making something today.
A Creative Mother Learns to play
Courage. If there is one thing that keeps mothers from realizing their full creative potential it must be the fear of the unknown. Once again, God has given you an ideal example in your children.
Play is a very beautiful thing. A child sees something he would like to become, but he does not posses the skills or resources necessary all at once. He does it anyway. He pretends. Collecting, at times, the most random and raw of materials, he sets his mind to imagining what success would be like. And then in a beautiful, childish faith he begins to do the very thing he cannot.
The most rewarding moments of my motherhood have come when I tried on this child- like faith. It is humble and confident, fearful but energized. I no longer want to be the woman who has it all under control. Knowing the power of Christ in me, I am eager to make something bigger than my capabilities, and learn to do the things I cannot. His grace goes before me and his mercy behind ensuring both His glory and my good. This simple truth, when I believe it deeply, gives me the freedom to play like a child. Play is an excellent form of learning. Mothers must learn how to play with their children.
Creative motherhood will be unique. Like a home should be designed to meet the needs of its household, her role must be filled in a way all her own. Knowing your limits, collaborating, putting your house to work, feeding yourself, working out, and learning to play are some principles to keep in mind. All of them, I have struggled with at one point or another. By confronting these things with courage, I have realized that becoming a mother could be the best thing that ever happened to my creative goals and aspirations.
Illustrations by Wm III