Recently I had a great conversation with a friend about balancing life between passion, creativity, and the scale we wobble on when we're parents. We were questioning whether being a true artist meant you had to be selfish. I thought it depended on all sorts of factors including points we are in our lives. We were speaking about giving up some of the time it takes to really dive into the creative process, or following a creative dream, when your biggest responsibilities are to your family. How do you dance on that line of bliss that you get when you are knee deep in an idea, a project, a song, or a painting, and also make sure you are ever present to the ones who need you fully and wholly? I think of myself as an artist, but my first priority to to my children, husband, and family and so I started to evaluate myself. Oh lord.
First, I know that I couldn't do all the crazy creating that I do without the support of my husband. He's always looked at my passion for art and design, music and creativity as a point of pride for him. A lot of the things I do require help from him and he is willing to do whatever he can to make my dreams come true. That being said, I also am acutely aware of when my creative time takes away from my family needs, which is simply also called family time. Enter balance. But how do I take care of mommy and wife duties and still keep that flow of creativity going? In my experience it's all about communication, understanding, and inclusion.
I haven't always been the best communicator, and it's through lots of misunderstandings and a few arguments that I've learned to be much better at voicing my desires. If I state my goals, my intent, and my excitement over a project, everyone wins. When I'm very specific in the things I need, like help with dinner, or help dropping a child at tennis or dance or horseback riding, and including the reasons why, I get all the help I can ask for. It's when I'm unorganized in how I structure my goals, my day, or if I try to do it all myself, that I can create a scenario of confusions which leads to misunderstandings and that's never good. .
Understanding is a big one too, and this is directly related to communication. Often, as a creative person, I get caught up in the creative process.. I'll get lost in designing jewelry in my studio, or working on a piece of music, or writing a blog post. When I get lost in this process, it doesn't have a set time because inspiration can come at any moment, and can last for more than an hour. But for me the understanding has to come from me. I have to be aware of the time this takes away from the needs of my family and understand why I should be able to shut down my creative process and tend to what they need. I'm sure there are people who would argue otherwise, this is just the way I work, simply because I know that what I am passionate about doesn't have a time limit. What does have a time limit are my years with my kids when they're young. I only have about five to six years left with them in the house, even less before they're both driving, and that weighs heavily on me. I'll miss them when they're out of the house and I don't want to loose one moment of this time with them. As I understand their needs and meet them, I feel I am also teaching them understanding of mine.. and this is where inclusion comes in.
When I say inclusion, I'm speaking of including my family in my passions and modeling this so that they include me in theirs. When I started designing jewelry I would bring my kids in my studio and ask them to come up with designs they'd think I might be able to make. I also always consult my husband. I value his opinion on all things aesthetic, I create pieces for him as well, and because his business mind is so good, and mine a little fleeting, he really helps me with the stuff I am terrible at.. When I'm working on music, I'll always let me kids fool around with my equipment, try it out, record things. I bounce ideas off my kids and husband all the time so we become a team in my projects rather than me going off doing something separately. In reverse, my family knows that when they have creative projects, we, our team, also will be there to support each other. My daughter is a dancer and we love being a part of her journey. My son loves acting and we do whatever we can to make sure he gets to create his life through that art. My husband is an entrepreneur, currently in the Cannabis industry and there is amazing creativity happening on all fronts of his realm. Being a part of his dream is just as exciting as having him be a part of mine. To me, this is inclusion.
Even after writing this I am convinced there is no right or wrong way to follow your passions and balance your family life. Perhaps that's the beauty of creative people. What I do know is that for me, seeing my family as my best and most precious creation just enhances all of the other creative aspects of my life. We are four moving parts, but we are all a part of one huge creative team. We're kind of like a band. We all have our proverbial instruments we play and we sound best when we're all playing together in tune, and to the same rhythm. In the end, I am a mother and I'm an artist. I'm a wife and I'm a passionate creator. When I look at the balancing of it all as a practice in creativity, I know that keeping all the pieces together is also an act of passion, and ultimately my most beautiful work of art.
Photos courtesy of Winsome Bye, Olgy's Photography, and RAW Artists Seattle