I almost didn't write this blog at all, let alone the title. I don't plan to go too deep into the forest of self pity, but I think it's a question a lot of parents ask themselves. For me, it is compounded by the never-ending addition of: am I still an Artist? I started writing this blog again for many reasons, but ultimately it was because I felt I was pushing the legitimacy of still calling myself a writer when my more recent credits consisted of grocery lists and emails.
It can be hard to deal with the reality that my life is now, largely, his life. Or at least it’s dictated by it.
When I venture out into the artistic parent community I realize that I am not alone in this feeling of loss-of-creativity. And for parents who don't call themselves artists, the same is true of whatever hobby, skill or interest they feel has suffered since the age of becoming a parent. (I would like to add that though I would not count independent bathroom trips as a "hobby, skill or interest", it is still something that I sorely miss.) As parents, there's a pervasive feeling that you want to give your children everything until you realize that everything is a lot. Parents wonder aloud, when will I feel normal? When will I feel creative? When will I want to do anything but sit on the couch and stare at the T.V. without even really watching it with my downtime? The answer is the all-too-frequently coined "it gets better". A phrase we all cling to like a modern day fantasy story for adults. This is where my first lesson of parenting comes into play: parents who act like they have everything together and figured out are liars and they must be shunned.
I used to write my blog entries and go over them a couple of times, gleefully shaping words to tell the story and the jokes just the way I wanted. Now, I sometimes stare at a simple sentence and can’t remember basic grammar or spelling. You can convince yourself of anything when you’re tired. Plus, who has time to reread things when there’s barely time to write them in the first place?
When the baby came, my internal monologue slowed down. And when it came, it was at moments when stopping to jot down the words wasn’t as important to me as grabbing a few extra minutes of sleep. It’s hard when you pit everyday survival against long term sanity.
As Dexter became better at sleeping, I decided that I had to get back into the things that make me who I am. If you leave everything behind to take care of a child, what is left for them to admire about you as a person later? Plus, writing is therapeutic for me, so letting this go completely wasn’t an option. I started learning how to type quick notes on my IPhone with one hand. You eventually learn how to do a lot of things one-handed. You also learn how to put the baby down, which, thankfully, Dexter has been mostly receptive to from the beginning. But none of these notes had time to grow into something more. Actual writing. This is where the exhaustion turned into an excuse. I’d had ideas floating around in my head for so long that I didn’t know how to start again, so the starting kept getting delayed.
I have recently begun to accept that I can never have my old process back. Life has changed, and so has my schedule and the way I think. Inevitably, my creative process will have to evolve too and I'm optimistic that, just like parenting itself, it will be similar to life before, but a little harder and a lot more fulfilling.