Parenting is no joke.
I know a lot of people liken it to a really hard job, but I don’t see it that way. Parenting is more like a spiritual practice for me. The fortitude, patience and faith it requires are more akin to one seeking enlightenment than a job you go to every day. A job is something you can quit. A job is something you can leave from and go home, put your feet up, drink wine and binge-watch Mad Men on Netflix.
Parenting is not like that. It is commitment. It is for life.
Why am I writing this now? Because I have been parenting a lot more in the past eight months than I have been making art, or building my art business.
Every night, I run a marathon. I get up every night, several times, to cuddle and console a hungry, tired baby; and every day, I feed, clothe and negotiate with a five-year-old girl. And cuddle her and console her too. Every day is hard. Every day, I fail at something, whether it is getting the baby to nap, or not yelling at the five-year-old to turn off the TV.
Motherhood is something I chose, and it is a passion of mine, much like art is. And like art, I know it is going to take a lifetime to master, if I ever even do. But it is bigger, in that what kind of people I raise will affect the world, and I pray I don’t raise jerks. I hope I raise good people, who are kind and loving, and hard-working, and not entitled, snobby, resentful or lazy. However, there is a chance I will, because that’s how people are. You cannot control everything.
I often don’t know what to do about my children, and I get a lot of advice from many sources. Some I seek out- who has not googled in the dead of night, “Getting a baby to sleep”? Some I don’t- and have to say, “Thanks, I’ll consider that,” whilst I go and do the opposite of what that well-meaning person recommended.
I do have “wins” and good days. The days that the baby naps and the 5-year-old and I don’t argue about TV or clothes or what to eat for dinner, and the house is not a disaster, for a brief moment I feel competent. But those seem few and far between these days.
Part of it, I realized some time last week, is that I am not making art often enough. When I make art, I settle down and root into my deeper self, and as a consequence am calmer and more at ease. My inner critic quiets, and I can “go with the flow.”
I need to commit to creating, and to allow myself space for mistakes in parenting. I know this. I just don’t know how to accomplish it daily. Maybe weekly? What is more realistic a goal? Should I even have goals?
We as a culture need to debunk the notion that if you don’t produce perfect, Pinterest worthy birthday parties for our Ivy League-bound children we have failed. Parents need support, and the proverbial villages. Because seriously, I cannot be the only one who feels this way.
I’m stopping now, because I have to go back to parenting. I need to try to get the baby to nap. It is the simple things right now.
Wish me luck.