Before I was a mom, I was an artist. I wasn’t the type of artist that was successful or sold pieces of art or photography–I was the kind of artist that was chaotic and full of emotions that I showcased with doodles, watercolors, and poems. I would lay for hours in the grass and muse about life. I would sit in coffee shops and write long after I was finished drinking my latte. I would revel in finding new and unexplored places.
Now I find myself falling asleep every time I try to ponder, running on fumes from a full day of boo-boo kissing, butt wiping, bargaining, playdates, cleaning the kitchen at least four times, and negotiating bedtime with little people…my little people. The only thing free-spirited in life is my hair, which I care almost nothing about. Lattes are luxuries. I drink lukewarm coffee after breakfast is made. Unexplored places make me nervous, because I worry about all the things that could go wrong there. Every time I sit down to be creative, my mind rushes to all of the things left unchecked on my ever evolving t0-do list. I often feel silly if I try to color outside the lines. I often feel disappointed in myself because of it. Heck, I even feel confused on how to talk to other moms about my struggling creative spirit because I only know perhaps two other moms who have ever even mentioned this struggle. Sometimes, the only art I do is transforming my messy house into a clean one.
Motherhood can slowly drown you in an endless cycle of routines, anxieties, and exhaustion. Where is there room for creative expression, for freedom, for contemplation?
I want to tell you that I’ve found ways to regain the creative energy I once had. But I haven’t. And instead of being ashamed or sad about it, I want to tell you something else: it’s okay to not be who you were before you were a mom.
If you want to go for a run early in the morning, your one hour of extra sleep is sacrificed. If you want to cook three healthy meals a day, you sacrifice a clean kitchen. If you keep your house spotless, playtime with your kids is sacrificed. If you go to school, time with your family is sacrificed. If you make self-care a priority, you might sacrifice time with your partner or friends. Let’s just be honest here: in motherhood, something is always sacrificed.
You can’t be the same person you were before you were a mom. I just don’t think it’s possible, and it can be a real spirit crusher if you try (take it from me, I’ve tried hard). I’ve been humbled by these sacrifices, and I can say that I am a better person because of them. Yet, I still struggle at times with the lack of freedom and the overwhelming amount of exhaustion that comes with raising young children.
If you’ve lost your spirit now that you’re a mom, don’t beat yourself up anymore. I’ve questioned whether I was ever even a writer at all, because writing was the first thing to go when I became a mom. I’ve wondered whether being creative was just a phase, because I can’t even find the inspiration to make a pinterest craft. And while I’m young on this journey, I know that my creative spirit hasn’t died. It’s just had to hibernate a bit, because I pushed a baby into the world and I couldn’t transition into motherhood while being a chaotic, restless poet anymore. I had to get grounded, overcome breastfeeding obstacles, recover from a traumatic birth experience, and somehow sleep in between a high needs baby, full time job, and school.
For now, I think the best ways to cultivate a sense of wonder and freedom in life is watching our children. It’s not the same as it used to be, but everything that I have forgotten about creativity and reflection can be found in the smallest everyday moments. Watch your baby discover a stream of light pushing through the curtains. Sit with your child as they smash play-dough into plastic shapes. Take your kids outside and watch them roam the yard without hovering over them.
I’ll never be the same sort of artist as I was before I had my children. I think I’ll be an even more authentic writer. A more passionate scribbler. A less idealistic poet. And likewise, you’ll never be the same as you were before you were a mother, either. Motherhood is truly transformative. And it’s beautiful, because now you’re going to be yourself…only with sticky kisses covering your arms and cheeks. There is this saying, “Bloom where you are planted,” and it’s never more true than when you become a mother. When you become a mother your spirit is truly planted, and nourished with your children’s spirits and the lessons you learn from them. You can still discover. You can still be authentic. Just don’t expect it to look like it did. It never can. And in the end, that’s a beautiful thing.