Pam has inspired me to do some thinking about creativity and the role it plays in my life.

Obviously, becoming a mother was a big change for me. When Daniel was born almost two and a half years ago, I suddenly had to get used to staying home most of the time. I was still a doctoral student, but since I was done with my coursework and prelims, I just had dissertation work and recitals to do, and most of that work I did from home. Since I was juggling nearly full-time motherhood with school (I had a sitter a few hours a week so I could practice, but that was it - no daycare), I didn't have much time or brain power left over for, well, let's call it "recreational creativity," if there is such a thing. I started this blog when Daniel was a few months old in order to maintain contact with the outside world and keep in touch with far-flung family and friends. I found myself knitting a lot, and even started a knitting blog a few months later to keep track of my projects.

But it's been the last six months or so that I've felt a real need for more creativity in my life. I finished my DMA and had another baby. WHAM! What an adjustment it's been to be a mother of two and not have any major deadlines or goals beyond fixing dinner and scrubbing grime off the kitchen floor. Don't get me wrong. I'm incredibly glad to be done with my degree...but I no longer have a balance between work/school and housewifery. It's pretty much all the latter. And while taking care of an increasingly stubborn and independent 2yo and a baby who is nowhere close to sleeping through the night, plus making sure we all get fed and have clean clothes to wear every day, not to mention keeping our tiny house from turning into a minefield of toys and spilled cracker crumbs -- all this takes most of the energy and organizational skills I've got -- I simply need more intellectual stimulation. Or a creative outlet. Or something.

So how do I deal with this? First of all, I complain a lot. Y'all know this, because I complain here on this blog. I complain to Stu. I complain to my mom during our frequent phone conversations. But complaining, while I have to admit I enjoy it to some extent (who doesn't? c'mon, admit it, you love to complain, too), only gets you so far.

I also find myself looking for ways to be more creative in my daily life. This isn't something that I specifically strove to do, but it's evolved since I started staying home more. Planning and cooking meals takes a lot of creativity. Arranging our stuff nicely in a 900-sq-ft house takes a certain amount of creativity. Finding new ways to entertain the kids on days with weather too bad to go out takes creativity (though it's amazing how much fun Daniel will have when you plop him in front of a sink full of sudsy water and a couple of plastic measuring cups - some days that'll buy you a good 15 minutes).

I have five piano students. This is crossing into professional, not personal, territory, but teaching these kids takes enormous creative energy. Not because they're bad students - they're not at all - but because teaching is always challenging and always requires creative effort if you want to do it right. I don't write about my students much because I think it would be rather unprofessional to say much about them, but I'll say this much: they are all really smart kids with unique musical talents, and each one presents a different kind of challenge for me. I'm lucky to be their teacher, and while I'm not always so sure they're lucky to be my students, I do enjoy figuring out the best way to help each of them learn.

I still knit a lot. Nearly all of the time I'm knitting something from an existing pattern, so I'm not especially original with my knitting projects, but I enjoy it and that's what matters. Occasionally, I make something up from scratch. It's not always successful, but knitting that way is actually when I'm having the most fun...even when it's something completely useless and impractical (remember the seal tux?).

I blog. Less frequently than before, of course, but that's because composing a decent blog post (rather than just random cute pictures, which I know a lot of you appreciate, but I'm trying to keep things interesting and varied, too) takes more time than I've got, or am willing to give, most days. Still, writing on a regular basis is a really good creative exercise for me.

There's so much more I'd like to do. I have a guitar, and I'd like to learn to play it. I can play a few chords with lengthy pauses in between, so I'm no good for sing-alongs. I've toyed with asking for lessons as a Christmas present, but there's my pride. I have a doctorate in music. Surely I can figure out some things on my own. I'd like to take a gourmet cooking class and learn how to cook fancy stuff like they do in chef school. We have a pretty nice digital camera, and I want to learn how to take better photos with it. I wish I had more time to sew (go ahead, call me Becky Home-ecky; I don't mind.) I'd like to write some essays that are more serious than these blog posts; I have no idea if or when I would submit them somewhere, but that's not exactly the point. This is about my creativity, not my accomplishments.

What about you folks? Where have you found creativity? Where do you look for inspiration? What do you wish you had more time to do?


Miranda said…
Dear Suze,

As a mother and a musician, I thought you might be interested in participating in a group blog where creative mothers support each other through the journey of making art while being mothers. We grapple with the issues you describe in this post--finding time to be more than Mom, and finding creativity in daily life. Visit us at Hope to see you there!

We also have a weekly creativity contest, the point of which is to keep the bar LOW and just create something—keep the creative muscles strong, rather than fretting over creating a masterpiece. Each week’s winner receives a $10 gift certificate.

Very best wishes,

Pam said…
Thanks for the link, Suze! :-)

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