What Parenting Taught Me About Art & Bravery
Becoming a parent has forced my humanity to develop at warp speed. Once my daughter was born the world changed. And even more than that psychic shift, I suddenly felt accountable for my actions past, present and future.
As I’m sure we all know, it’s hard to take advice from someone who does not practice what they preach. If I have high expectations for my daughter I must hold myself to those same standards, otherwise my advice to her is useful as vapor.
Of course I want my little girl to chase her dreams, break barriers, and be a kind soul. Well then darn it- it’s time for me to be all those things and more so I can show her how it's done.
I always thought I was one of those people who had not found ‘my thing,’ my life’s passion. The truth is, I knew what it was all along I was just too afraid to own it.
Don’t get me wrong, I've lived, have been a little bit interested in a lot of different things. Like taking yoga in foreign languages, eating dinner in complete darkness, sailing on ferries, giving out fake names, playing matchmaker, stealing toilet paper, tattooing a human, falling in love with an Australian stranger in Malaysia then marrying him. It’s been an unforgettable whirlwind.
Despite all those wild memories I can’t shake the feeling that even though it appears I have been living my dreams, I've actually been distracting myself from them.
When you become a mother at 32 (almost 33) you've lived enough life to know that your options are instantly limited. The list of things you will never do grows longer and your wide, bright future becomes a pinhole- understandable because your priorities have changed. That's quite a lot of pressure for a free spirit however if you are also a procrastinator like myself, it might just be the ignition you need to get into gear.
I have traveled the world, married a wonderful man, given birth to a healthy child but what good are those things if I have not created something just for myself? If I am fulfilled I will be a better wife/ mother/ person and my daughter is the direct benefactor.
Growing up my heart and life revolved around the arts. I danced, painted, played instruments, sang, acted, wrote stories and poetry. All these things were encouraged and supported until University Graduation. Suddenly I was supposed to act like a grown up and ‘get a real job’ which sounded dreadfully boring.
And yes, I could have gone against the grain and fought hard for my dream but it’s not easy when you are a young person being launched into the world. Your parents’ opinions mean everything especially when you aren't mature enough to trust yourself. I looked for guidance everywhere but within. “Shadow artists did not receive sufficient nurturing. They blame themselves for not acting fearlessly anyhow (Julia Cameron).”
So now, no more blame. I can look at my adventures, half-cooked ideas, abandoned career paths and use those as material and inspiration for my new creative life.
I sound so confident don't I? Really though, I’m shitting myself. Every now and then I think “what’s the point,” or “I’m not good enough.” But even I can respect someone who tries and fails more than someone who never tries at all.
Now the work begins. Here I am, an adult student in a limitless classroom. There are no assignments, no deadlines, no grades, no graduation. I am the only one to judge whether or not I’m trying my hardest. The only one who knows if my goals are getting enough attention. The top key performance indicator will be- whether I am someone my daughter can look up to.