Is it possible to be a good mother and be creative?

This is a rare moment. I have the house to myself. I have no overdue work nagging at me. Sure there’s housework to do, but when isn’t there? I have some time. I feel like writing.

And I have about fifty precious minutes to do it in.

But where’s that precious nugget of inspiration? I just need one of the IDEAS that were swirling around my head this morning to take form and shape. But they escape me. I’ve written notes (guiltily) on the back of Nell’s phonics homework (it was all I could grab in time). I tried to imprison the IDEAS on paper but they have still managed to bugger off.

My best ideas seem to come these days when there is no way of doing anything with them. I’m left with an unrequited feeling in my belly. Like a first kiss that promises of more to come. There’s excitement there. And frustration. And a little bit of hope.

But it wears off as the mundane chips away at the shiny veneer.

‘I’m huuungry’.

‘Can we watch Mr Men?’

‘He kicked me’

‘She scratched me’

‘What’s for dinner?’

Chip, chip, chip.

It’s not all boring domestication. The love chips away at it too.

‘Mummy, I writed: “Mummy I love you and you love me”’

‘That’s wonderful. And I do darling. Very much’

Chip, chip, chip.

The IDEA is still there. But the
feeling of the IDEA is lost.

What I’m wondering is how I can hold onto the feeling, while mothering?

Because I want to do both. And do both well.

If I run upstairs to my garret and frantically try to get the IDEA onto (virtual) paper, abandoning my children to the TV… and each other. What happens?

‘He kicked me’

‘She scratched me’

Chip, chip, chip…

So I let it wither and die and get on with my main job of bringing up these two beautiful human beings.

I have no choice, it seems.

And that is the (or my?) female condition.

I recently had a job proofreading a book on entrepreneurism. I was struck by the fact that the voices throughout were resoundingly male. These men, many of them fathers, advocated long, long hours of dedication to the IDEA. They had the full backing of women who gave them YEARS to birth their inventions, their politics, their art, while they took care of the family, of the home, of them.

That’s alright for you. I thought. Telling me to just get on and do it. You’ve got the space to breathe. To think. To create.

My space is limited. And I get a LOT of help from my parents. My husband. Case in point. He’s literally just brought me a bacon sarnie as I’m sitting here typing. Love him.

But still.

It’s fifty short minutes on a Saturday.

It’s after 10.30pm on a school night. Knowing full-well that I’m going to be a cranky, old cow in the morning. With one ear pricked and waiting for one of the kids to cry out and shut me down. Weighing up the cost/benefit of those two hours of late-night thought-time against the next morning’s realities of making packed lunches and dressing, coaxing, bribing two young children to school on time.

So where’s my space? How do I find it?

Answers on a postcard please.



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