Many years ago, I was a newlywed fresh to the handmade scene. To be specific, it was over seven years ago that I had discovered Etsy.com, and I was obsessed with the idea that women my age knew how to run a successful handmade business while working from an inspiring studio space. Aka: home :)
The day I discovered Etsy, something ignited within me, and suddenly I wanted to something similar for myself. I wanted the assumed easiness of owning my own business. I wanted to have a creative life, to live a creative life, and so I set some big, detailed goals and jumped in without a single glance backward. A local library in Detroit became my best friend, offering so many free resources, which I paired with YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and my blog :)
Seven years ago, I had very little additional responsibilities. Our families lived close by, we didn’t have our beloved Bauer dog, and we were years away from getting pregnant with our firstborn. I had “all the time in the world”. I had so much confidence to try all of my new, creative ideas. I felt inspired by everything — things I saw and felt and smelled and dreamed about.
After a couple of years, after many sewing and blogging techniques were learned, after many products sewn, after many dollars saved as an “emergency fund”, I quit my trusty day job to focus solely on my handmade business, Gussy Sews. There’s so much good I remember about that time in my life, but feeling absolutely fearless takes the lead.
Being a fearless, creative woman is a really powerful feeling, one I wish I could keep in a bottle as a little refresher, whenever my reserve runs low :)
There are a few conversations I remember from that time in my life, and the time that has passed hasn’t clouded or muddled or smeared any of them. Not a single bit.
Looking back at that time in my life, I remember having conversations about “how easy I had it as a handmade shop owner” since I was not yet a mama (unlike them).
There is nothing, nothing, NOTHING I would change about where we are in life right now — but, my goodness, my daily schedule is certainly different when I compare then to now. For one, I’m often amazed, definitely embarrassed at times, over how self-conscious I’ve gotten about myself and my creativity since 2013. For some reason, the stakes seem higher now that I’m a mama? I can’t totally put my finger on it.
As a personal choice, with each baby I’ve birthed I’ve slowed down the amount of “outside” work I do. I’m not going to get into the details of that decision right now as that isn’t the purpose of this post, but rather this:
I am coming to you as a friend, a creative sister, a mama who’s walking the same crazy as you are, and I UNDERSTAND YOUR SELF-CONSCIOUS MUCK.
I understand the true fatigue that washes over you as soon as your babies are tucked into bed at night. The creative projects you’ve been daydreaming about are now transferred to tomorrow’s daydream list (again). The energy you thought you had stored up for the evening, well, it’s all but a vapor.
I understand how frustrating it is to finally have a creative thought, and not just a thought, but an action plan of how to bring it from dream to reality, but a single sheet of paper isn’t to be found — not even a piece of junk mail — so just as quickly as your creative thought arrived, it is now poof! lost.
I understand the difficulty of wanting to create, to hold your tools for hours and hours, but you know you need to be holding other tools instead. It may feel like you’re hanging on by a thread, since it’s been so long since you’ve picked them up, but don’t give up hope. Don’t forget working in 20-minute increments can reap rewards, too. Don’t forget that creating can still happen, it just happens in different ways.
I understand the overwhelming flood of, Am I making the right choice over how I spend my time?, when you know full well that you are. I understand this time at home feels unending. Yet, when you think back to how much your firstborn has grown since birth, you suddenly feel an overwhelming flood of, gratefulness that you have watched him grow.
I understand you, my friend.
I understand because I am right there with you. I am thick in the mess of motherhood, right alongside you. I am thick in the mess of knowing I have gifts and talents and offerings to share, yet I know they can’t all be done with the same quickness as before. Regardless of what “it” is, it can’t all be done at the same time. Our days are limited to 24 hours. Our bodies require rest. Our marriage demands our attention. Visiting with our girl friends is important. The list goes on.
Yet, as mamas, we must find time to create. As hard as it is, despite the limited time we now have to create, as fleeting as those moments may be, we must be creating. We must pull ourselves out of our self-conscious muck, and we must keep fighting to pursue our creative gifts.
Contrary to how it feels, nothing about us is lost when we become a mother, but rather, this: we shift into a new creative role.
Because if we can keep fighting to pursue our creative gifts then our village of little loves, the children we are raising, will grow up and remember their mama finding time to create (despite the fight she fought to get there). And their memory of us continuing to create as young mamas will encourage them to keep creating themselves once they become mamas.
So for the future encouragement of your children and their creative gifts: don’t give up.