Tuesday, September 30, 2008

finding the artist in the mom

brown eyed susans in a row

While I was at my love fest happy camp surrounded by artists and crafters, I had this question in the back of my head the whole time: How do mothers of young children make it work with the whole artist thing?

Becoming a mother was kind of a shock for me (I expected it to come perfectly naturally-HA!). It has taken me years to feel comfortable in my mother skin and it has been hard finding the balance of expanding myself with talents and passions with becoming the kind of mother I want to be.

There was one night at Squam where all the teachers and guest artists were in a panel on the stage and we got to ask questions. I raised my hand to ask my question (a little reluctantly, since I noticed that the majority of the women on the panel weren’t mothers), but time was short and I never got to voice it. So I began talking about it during classes and at mealtime with the women who were at my tables. We started discussing our varying experiences and these are some of the things I came away with…

*It’s not easy, but it is doable.

*When you want to live a creative life, you DO it, no matter what is going on. You find beauty and art in all creating, whether it is a painting, a quilt, or dinner for your family.

There were several women I talked with who had been avoiding becoming a mother because they weren’t sure if it could “work” with the lifestyle they pictured for themselves. I encouraged them to take the leap (it all comes about naturally when you have babies in your belly—people end up talking about motherhood around you), because even though it has taken me while to get here, I understand that when something is hard, it makes it more worth it. While children can seemingly cut into your hopes and dreams for yourself, they actually widen your perspective and deepen your values. They truly make you find beauty in places where you would have never dreamed to look before.

*A lot of the panel discussion focused on the job aspect of an artist. (Isn’t that everyone’s dream—to get paid for your talents and passions?) There was talk of creative jobs and quitting your blah job to focus on art. I found myself trying to mesh it into my lifestyle, but there was really no way to. If I want to make something, I have to do it with kids running around my legs begging to join in. I have to learn to create when the moment arrives and leave the mess in the kitchen until later. I have to learn to make it work when my primary focus and job is Mother and there is no getting around that.

That might sound negative, but it isn’t. Really, it was an a-ha moment. When Penelope said something like, “We do this every day. We paint every day because that’s who we are. We are artists and that’s what we do,” I realized that being an artist is part of WHO you are, and if I’m a mom, I can still be an artist.

On Sunday at church my son wanted to testify of what was in his heart. He decided to walk up to the podium in front of the entire congregation by himself and speak his truth. He was nervous, but he got a bit of his heart out through his mouth when he said, “I know this church is true. I know that Heavenly Father is watching out for me when I’m scared.” And he told me later that he wanted to say that he knows Heavenly Father answers prayers. My creation has his own creations. He not only thinks and speaks for himself, but he creates new depth in me that couldn’t be there without him.

*I keep trying to separate my children from this blog and it never works. This blog is supposed to be about my personal perspective but the truth is, my children are too integral a part of me—there is no separation. It is all part of the art of life and my children are like colors in the painting—when you take them out, it is not as beautiful.


Annie said...

Britt, Your post reminded me: There's a documentary just filmed called "Who Does She Think She Is?" about artists who are mothers, including a LDS sculptor. I haven't seen it but I enjoyed the clips and the bios they have online. Check it out at

Dallas and Krista said...

LOVE.... YOU! You are an artist in everything... everything you touch is more beautiful, because that is who you are, it's what you do.

Leigh said...

wow. great post - and so inpiring - as usual! Congrats on the two girls : )

AnnieB said...

You are a true artist because you make EVERYTHING more beautiful! I love being privy to your soul searching and I love to hear about your children so don't leave them out of your musings--especially that sweet son of yours! His prayers and the way the Lord "moves his legs" are some of my favorite testimonies and buoy me (as they must for you!)
I hope you heard President Uchtdorf's talk at the RS Broadcast on Saturday. It was about a woman's divine gift of creation--whether it's babies, art, cuisine, smiles, etc. It was beautiful and very validating.
I love you! Congrats on two more girls!

brittany said...

I loved that talk, Annie. He said things that had been running through my mind all week. The whole night was awesome as usual.

Thanks, girls:)

andrea said...

i was going to mention pres. uchdorf's talk as well. it reminded me of what you wrote here. it's a perspective i hope to adopt into my daily thinking.

andrea said...

i was going to mention pres. uchdorf's talk as well. it reminded me of what you wrote here. it's a perspective i hope to adopt into my daily thinking.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm...really, it is so much more than "worth it." Being a mother has taught me everything. Has made me so different than who I thought I was or who I thought I wanted to become. You cannot take out the work in motherhood but you can also not take out the joy.


Courtney said...

Cool, thought-provoking post. Your blog has always been good about promoting creativity in us that read it. Thank you.

pink sky said...

i so loved what you said in this post. i often wonder the same thing and feel compartmentalized by all the different aspects of my life...being a mom in the forefront. i love how your a-ha moment brought you to realize the blending of it all. there is a magic in that...the mixing of all the colors. thank you for such a beautiful and poinient perspective. this was like a deep cleansing breath for me :)


I heart Brittney! Can I have some of that passion?
I miss you!

I have a story that might make you feel better about the twins.

I was sitting in Relief Society near one of my friends who has a 6 month old. (She has a 9 year old and a 6 year old from a previous marriage.) She is easily one of the coolest ladies I know. She raised her hand during happy moments and proceeded to announce, "After a very important Dr. appointment this week, I am happy to announce our TRIPLETS are doing great!". Yup TRIPLETS! Turns out they weren't preventing because she is in her late 30's and didn't want to put off having children. Little did they know it would be a triple whammy! Talk about crazy going from 2-6 in a year and a half.

Anyway I thought about you!

Miss you and Love you!

Teresa said...

I loved your post and just had to say so. I too am struggling through a stage in my life (for different reasons)where my creative side feels a bit stifled. It's nice to find those who are like minded.
BTW, your sis Brooke is my friend. I miss her.

calibosmom said...

I think we need to rent that movie mentioned by Annie-looks excellent!

(Jen) Domino-n-Crash & Fam. said...

Hey Britt,
I've just got to say that with all the people I've known thru all our military moves, I have yet to meet a Mom that gets to feel complete as Mom as as the individual that she longs to be identified as. I also have yet to meet a woman that was waiting to be Mom, that was so in love with the chosen profession she loved, that it was worth the lack of love and growth children offer.
I have told my kids about things I've read in your blog, and showed them the book cover you made. I the people I work with (at the fabric store) about your aprons) I am so jealouse with the natural ability you have with your creative side, and I am certain that there is no way for you to seperate that from the way you Mother...back to book cover example. As they all grow up, you'll get LOTS more time to be the artist, but I'm sure your art will have a vastly different depth or perspective beCAUSE of your service in raising your children.

My husband is an artist, and I know his struggles when he can't take time for his creative unloading. Give me a pattern, or idea book, maybe I can be creative. But to create from within, you all have something that I never will. Enjoy your days with your kids. Those won't come back...oh, unless you get the little suprise you did. Okay, so enjoy THESE moments to the fullest, and all the days ahead. Take time for you, because taking care of allowing YOU to be whole, well, then stepping back into Mom is a little easier (though I think we'd all love a little help with that laundry, and the floors, darn it why can't those chores be more easily ignored for fun creative time?)
Love you insite...and I missed conference because of work...guess I need to get online and watch it.

(Jen) Domino-n-Crash & Fam. said...

(I just notice my typos...sorry, thoughts fly faster then fingers)

Johnny said...

There definitely is a double standard for men and women regarding art and raising a family. But from the male perspective, I get plenty of grief for not being the traditional "provider" as a father and an artist. But once I start to gain any bit of success, people's reaction to what I do changes dramatically. It's very strange when people (even your own family) start to accept what you do because they saw you in the newspaper or on tv.

I first get the bland questions "oh, are you in a band?" Then, "what do you play?" followed up with "oh.. my (insert family member here) is in a band"....

After hearing tales about how so and so had to give up music and get a "real job" they begin to talk about what they think they know about the music industry..and just before I put a bullet in my face they top it off with "why don't you try out for American Idol?" That's my cue to run away very fast before I am forced to inflict pain. I usually never hear from them again for months..

Then time will go by and that same person will come up to me and say "oh.. I saw you on TV last night, your actually good!" like they just assumed I sucked. Now they want me to hang out with them.. come to their parties and be a part of their lives. It's flattering.. but at the same time kind of insulting.

Most men (especially at church) have a hard time discussing anything but: work, real estate, ward activities, work again, money, work..football..basketball.. etc.

They don't relate to me at all because my life isn't defined by those things..my life is MY MUSIC.. and my conversations with them generally don't last more than 1 minute. Try being stuck in the Nursery (i'm the nursery leader) with 4 adult men for 2 hours... it's like pulling teeth and rinsing your mouth out with lemonade! At least they let me be the Primary chorister for the last 8 years (greatest calling evah!). The upside is I haven't been to a priesthood meeting since 2000! joy!


Being a father and an artist is the best thing in the world. I get to spend almost everyday with my little monkey. And passing on the gift of music to him directly is so special. That being said.. I almost never find time to write music and when I do, I have to do it in secret. If my boy hears me playing guitar he runs into my room and yells "teetaaarrr!" Then I have to hold the guitar for him and let him strum. He won't let me play it... and he won't play the guitar by himself.. he has to have ME hold the guitar while he strums it.

So basically I have written maybe 3 songs in the last year.

The bonus is I have a 17 month old kid who already plays the drums, guitar, and piano. And has a list of his own favorite DVD's:

Queen (keenah)
Led Zeppelin (musaply)
T-Rex (mahk aka marc bolan)
Elvis (eetahs)
The doors (dooos)

Here he is rocking out:


Vanessa~ I Never Grew Up said...

You write so beautifully

jenica said...

i hear you.
and i'm right there
or here rather. ;-D

i like what johny said too.

and i'm still gonna say you're bold, or passionate. but mostly beautiful.