Art and Parenthood

In January I wrote the post “Art and Motherhood” in response to my own struggle as a mother and artist. These days it’s less of a struggle, and more of a basic challenge. As my son gets older and more independent, we sleep through the night, he’s at school during day, and life generally gets easier; I find myself feeling much more balanced in all areas of my life. I’m well rested, feel inspired to create, and am enjoying each day and moment as they pass. In fact, as time goes on I’m feeling more driven to create because of my role as a mother. Once in awhile I find myself daydreaming of the life I might have lived… and who am I kidding?! I love my life.

Studio Mothers” is a website, and online community, that really supports creativity for the whole family.  They have inspiring quotes, activities and daily blogs that really put the positive spin on the potential for mothers to be successful artists. Of course, success has it’s own meaning for each person.

Tracey Emin is a great example of a woman, an artist, who publicly admits she cannot choose between her art and motherhood. Her perspective is she has to give 100% to what she does, and to have a child would take away from her career, and having a career would take her away from her child. Although she’s caused a lot of controversy with her statement “Of course there are good artists who have children. They are called men.” there is this part of me that certainly understands where this stems from. In fact, it even made me laugh a bit. Not because it’s true, there are many amazing artists who are also mothers. It made me laugh because she had the guts to say it, and I admire that.

But tell me, who are the most famous female artists you know and love? The two I think of instantly are Emily Carr and Frida Kahlo.  Neither had children. For Frida, it was not a choice, she could not bare a child due to a severe bus accident she had as a teenager. She suffered miscarriages, and expressed her torment in her art. As for Emily, I do not know if it was a choice, but certainly her life revolved around her art.

frida miscarriage

Frida and The Miscarriage” by Frida Kahlo

Tracey is right in the sense that there are more famous male artists who have children. But lets face it, there are a lot of famous male artists who didn’t have children too.

Linda Tilyard and Moira Wairama are two woman who recently released a children’s book “The Mother’s Child.” It’s described as a poem meant for mothers, especially those feeling disconnected from their creativity. Although I don’t fully agree with their message:

“Motherhood is wonderful, but a lot of women grieve those old parts of their lives…Our society is supportive of women becoming mothers, and gives them this perfect ideal of what motherhood should be like — with the spotless house and well-behaved kids. But it doesn’t support mums in retaining their passions and the creative part of themselves.”

When I shared this article and comment on Facebook, I really liked the comments that came back:

(From Corey) “Was your house spotless and were you behaved when growing up? Where does society tell you it “should” be like? TV? I think people have a false sense of reality nowadays. I would like to have some of those old parts of my life back too but I wouldn’t trade it for my son and I know I can’t have both. Time is a factor when retaining your passions when raising a child. That’s a choice people subconsciously make when having a child. Will I have time to do things I want? Will I be happy investing all my time in raising my child and balancing a career? For me I think it’s an easy choice. Retain your passions with whatever time you can or don’t bother having a child. Society shouldn’t be involved with that decision.. And by “mum” I hope you mean “parent” because there’s a lot of single “dads” out there too.”

(From Susan) “Very bizarre all of this ‘perfect mom’ and ‘perfect house’ stuff … It’s a fantasy, never existed, even with moms who actually stayed home … we’re still getting over Leave it to Beaver. Time to grow up. Kids don’t need perfect and don’t even thrive in it.”

Personally, I feel like we are living in a day and age where both sexes are changing and evolving. Roles are over-lapping, and this is a good thing. Yet, biologically men and women are different, and we need to value and respect that too.

If I decide to share my personal experience as a mother and artist, it’s the biological change that I will discuss; That affected me just as much as the lifestyle change. It’s not parenthood or fatherhood I am talking about, it is motherhood: The biology of growing another human being inside oneself, the chemical reactions in ones brain and body, and the deep loss of Self that can occur.

don't get lost




Published by JenniferAnneBurke

Life-long yogini and artist. Child and Youth Worker. Passionate about Canadian road-tripping, camping, nature, and living life to the fullest.

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