The List of Undone Things

img_1527Today I had a realization.

I was sitting at my acupuncture appointment, with my four month old baby on my lap,. He’s cooing and kicking and wiggling and laughing, while I’ve got needles stuck in me in an attempt to clear out a nasty headache that had set in with the heat wave this week. At one point, the baby looks at me with that dumb baby grin- you know the one, where they just send love and adoration your way, almost saying, “Mom, you are my FAVORITE!!!”- and my heart melted.

And I decided to quit fighting.

I decided it was time to give in.

I’m tired of trying to be a master painter, successful artist entrepreneur, and a full time stay at home mom.

And I’m tired of telling myself I’m a failure for not being great at all three endeavors.
I keep pushing, pushing, pushing, fighting the reality I live. I am a stay at home mom, with a young baby, and an active little girl. I beat myself up all the time; I look down on myself.

No one else that I know of looks down on me, but I stand there, judging myself, like an angry, bitter old woman.

In response, my body is sending signals: I’m tired all the time, and my head hurts. I spent the last month battling some awful respiratory thing. I’m dealing with a lower back issue as well.

I’ve tried working at night after I finally get both kids to bed. I tried hiring a sitter, but the baby cried the entire time. I tried asking my husband to watch the kids while I worked on the weekend, but again, the baby cried the entire time.

Despite these challenges, I’ve gotten quite a bit done recently. I’ve written email newsletters and contacted galleries and painted and submitted work to shows and sold paintings and shipped paintings and written invoices and attended gallery openings and connected with clients and colleagues and curators and painted. I’ve also volunteered for my daughter’s preschool class and taken care of my baby all day and all night and nursed and nursed and nursed and cleaned and cooked and hosted play dates and shuttled my children to activities and classes and I. Am. So. Tired.

Why would that voice in my head be so mean, listing all the things I haven’t done, instead of cheering me on for what I have done?

What is the list of undone things worth?

Today, I decided it is ok to just enjoy my baby and his cuteness and enthusiasm and appetite for life instead of writing an email newsletter.

It is ok to spend an entire day during the weekend playing dress up and tea party with my daughter, instead of painting a series of large-scale works.

It is ok to go to yoga class or get some acupuncture instead of reaching out to more galleries.

It is ok to spend time cooking food that nourishes me instead of researching and applying to shows, grants and residencies.

It is ok to be human, to not have 7 hands, and no full time assistance at home. It is ok to have a goal to breastfeed for a year, and have that take up a lot of my time that I should be working. It is ok to make sure my daughter feels loved even though there is a new baby in the house. It is ok to spend time with my husband laughing. It is ok to cuddle my cat. It is ok to take a few moments for a shower, or to look at the stars, or watch Gilmore Girls for the umpteenth time, or take deep breaths.

I will be an artist my whole life. I will always love art and art making and the entrepreneurial aspects of art. But for now, I’m pulled in two directions. And I can’t win the battle between the two right now.

And I think I’m finally ok with it.


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