Still in my pajamas at an embarrassing hour, I open the package. I wrestle with the stiff cardboard to reach the beloved contents, pawing for a treat like a bear with a honeycomb. Finally book in hand, the emotions rise, threatening to fill tear ducts.
At last. Words to connect the dots between my reality and my wiring. A “me too” from others who understand this thirst for beauty and the hunger to create with baby on hip and hip teens still living in the house—and to do it today, not tomorrow or decades from now.
These artists understand the tension and they also share in the desire to be a present and devoted mother. They don’t want to be all art yet they don’t want to lose their heart in the process of child rearing. Like me, they want to make space for their art and soul without it breaking the fragile souls of their offspring.
As I wrote today, before the package came, darling daughter brought me a warm piece of banana nut coffee cake that she made, accompanied by a cold glass of milk. Yes, there have been times when my writing has burned those I love most, leaving a foul stench in the air. But there has also been times that my writing has produced sweet fruit in the lives of my littles.
Tween daughter (not so little now) has developed a sweet appetite for baking; a delicious byproduct of me pursuing this life creative. I started writing more and she started baking more. Brooke discovered she liked baking so much that she started a cooking blog and applied for kids cooking shows; filling our bellies while feeding her dreams.
My word art and her confection art blend together in a messy yet scrumptious bowl of creativity. I am not a starving artist when I’m filled with her edible art.
Pursuing the creative part of my wiring makes room for my daughter to find a way to express hers.
I strap on this custom made label of “Renaissance Mom“, while still in my pajamas, with moist coffee cake remnants on the plate next to the computer. I nurse my baby girl as I inhale Chapter I of Life Creative by Wendy Speake and Kelli Stuart. I stop a moment to give baby a nose crinkling smile which she returns with a giggle. And then, as I eat up the tasty morsels of this book, she spits up all over me—thick and juicy. And I laugh. What else can I do?
I’m not going to graduate anytime soon and so I wipe up the spit up, brush the sweat from my brow, smile at the gift in my arms and start reading again. This life creative is not neat and tidy but it’s life lived full, not just for me but for the Master Artist and for this family He has created.
This book is a treasure. I feel known. I feel understood. I feel accepted, as I am—a believer, a mom, and an artist. Within its pages I don’t feel like I have to apologize for being woven this way. I feel freedom to strengthen my roots while spreading my wings. I am inspired to be a better version of mother as I incorporate the creative into ordinary days. Through it, I am also reminded not to neglect needs or tender hearts in the process.
Life Creative is indeed inspiration (and reassurance) for today’s Renaissance moms. This book is for the ones displaying masterpieces in galleries or the ones hanging it up proud on the fridge; for the ones who cater fancy weddings or the ones who daily cater their child’s sack lunch; for the ones who decorate homes for clients or the ones who refurbish thrift store treasures for their home.
Dear Mama Artist, dig in and discover a sweet community that understands you.
And now for some more of daughter’s delicious creation.
Learn more about this new book, Life Creative, in the following interview:
Why, do you suppose, does a woman feel like she must give up some of her own interests when she becomes a parent?
Wendy: Great question! It’s simple math really. There are only 24 hours in a day, and children fill up nearly all those little minutes. The leftover spaces are few and far between, and when they present themselves there’s another pull – simple self-care! You see, most moms would also like to lose that baby weight by walking on the elliptical machine out in the garage (that now houses the pack and play and extra car seat), and a shower would be a delightful extravagance as well! Such small space is left over for a woman to indulge in the passions that once fueled her days. For the majority of creative women who become mothers, there are few afternoons at her easel; dinner parties with multiple courses are exchanged for simple suppers feeding baby as her own food gets cold, and slipping out the door to rehearse with the worship band at church requires all the planets aligning – and they don’t usually, not easily. So we lay the artistry down for a season with the hope that one day we will have time to enjoy those parts of ourselves once again.
In Life Creative we encourage women to rethink what it means to lay their life down. Instead of laying their lives on an altar to be sacrificed entirely, we suggest that that they lay it all down at Christ’s feet to be used, in His time and in His way. My favorite picture of this, in the pages of our book, is the example of painter and author Ruth Simons, who laid down her brush for the first 10 years of motherhood to devote herself to the fine art of raising children. Not everyone will do it this way, but Ruth is one of the varying, inspiring portraits of what a Renaissance Mom might look like today. Other God-loving, family serving creative moms are called to paint with a baby strapped to her back as the toddler naps just down the hall. There are no clearly defined rules in this Life Creative, just plenty of prayers and oodles of grace!
Kelli: We begin the book by acknowledging the tug of war that happens in an artistic mother’s heart when she gives birth to children. Suddenly her attention is divided, and when the children are very small they take up a lot of mental and emotional energy. Art is naturally pushed aside during this season, and this is a sacrifice that many mothers make willingly. But God never intended for us to sacrifice our unique gifts on the altar of motherhood. Though the creativity and art may need to be set aside for a time, we believe that when the slivers of a creative mother’s days begin to lengthen, she’ll find that the art is there waiting. It may look different – in fact, it likely will be different! Motherhood changes the creative woman, but the miracle of this metamorphosis is that the art transforms with the mother. What once looked like opera and poetry pre-children, comes out of her life today as home decorating and party throwing, or any number of beautiful displays of her creative self.
It’s a delicate task to balance art, faith and family. How can moms keep a balanced perspective when life seems anything but balanced?
Kelli: Well Wendy and I begin by acknowledging that balance is fluid concept! What looks like “balance” for one person will look entirely different for the next. And there’s a reason for that – because balance is a myth. Finding balance is a bit like hunting for a unicorn. Maybe it’s out there, but nobody has ever actually seen it; they’ve only heard that it exists.
Balance, you see, is rarely attained inside the span of one short day. There will always be more than we can possibly accomplish waiting for us at the sound of the morning alarm, particularly as we venture out into the world of self-employment. We won’t achieve balance most days – maybe not any days! And that’s okay. If we dare throw the concept of balance out the window, we just may open up a world of possibilities.
Wendy: Kelli was a friend long before she was a writing partner, and one of the things she has taught me is that balance was never meant to be achieved in the course of one 24-hour day. Some days it’s all house work, other days we spend the majority of it building LEGOS on the floor. There are days for running errands and having play dates,where we pick up a frozen pizza for dinner, and other days when we pull away to write, or edit photos for a client, or sell our wares at a local farmers market. In the midst of this very full life, something akin to balance can be found if you are intentional to love well and be gracious to yourself along the way.
Thank you Wendy and Kelli! We are excited about this book and grateful for your love and support of creative moms everywhere.
Purchase a copy of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom.
P.S. Get caught up on the Interview Series here.