Soon after making my first appearance in the Chattanooga art scene in 2015 I secured employment at the Hunter Museum of American Art. Things were working in my favor considering working at an art museum and having a freelance artist career were two of my biggest goals. Fast forward a few years and life suddenly threw me a curve ball. Now I am a stay at home mom. This is a role I never imagined finding myself in, but it made the most sense for our family. With the museum job out of the picture, I imagined balancing mom life and artist life would be a piece of cake, however, things are never as simple as you hope…
When my husband and I found out I was pregnant last March, it came as a complete shock. Just a month prior I found out I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, a condition that can cause infertility. I had begun mentally preparing myself for years of trying to only be left heartbroken month after month. How quickly it happened seemed close to impossible and I was in disbelief for quite some time. I was thankful and excited, but also terrified. Even though my husband and I knew we wanted to be parents, the reality of it made me realize I was far from prepared to become a mother by the end of the year, but the weeks kept flying by, my body kept changing, and suddenly our precious little bundle of joy arrived, and I was a mother.
A decent night’s sleep became a distant memory and it felt like my body’s only purpose was to nourish this tiny human. Though it might not sound like it, it was in many ways, an easier transition than I expected. Mother mode kicked in immediately, and although I mentally felt clueless, I found myself just doing without even thinking about it.
I had become a mother and my instincts were leading me.
However, every other aspect of me was thrown on the backburner.
My identity as an artist was something I struggled to hold on to after becoming pregnant. The first trimester was so difficult I was afraid I was dying. I’m surprised I didn’t end up hospitalized. The rest of the pregnancy was relatively tame. After all the pregnancy horror stories I’d heard, I’m lucky that I didn’t experience much worse. However, I was constantly tired throughout the duration of the pregnancy. Every day when I got home from my job at the museum, I was so drained that I often fell asleep on the couch within minutes. After working full-time at the museum, I simply had no juice left for painting. Throughout the entire pregnancy I only completed one painting, and that was one that was already 97% finished before I became pregnant.
After reading about how many hours newborns sleep per day, I developed this silly fantasy of my sweet little baby sleeping peacefully for most of the day while I managed to keep a clean home and pick up where I left off with my paintings.
I had no clue how just how unrealistic this was!
Our little one was particularly clingy during the first couple of months. She slept…a ton, but I had not expected her to have days where she would only sleep if I was holding her. She also had a very fussy phase too, where when she was awake, she was always crying to be held. I became confined to the couch underneath a baby and if I wanted to do anything, I had to hold her while doing so. My artsy mom fantasy was proving itself unachievable.
Now with the little one just over 3 months old, I’m finally starting to dream about this fantasy again. She still has clingy and fussy moments, but it’s nothing like the first 2 months. Each day she becomes more alert and aware of her surroundings. I can see her trust in me growing stronger each time we lock eyes. She’s smiling more and more, and her fear of this scary new world has turned into curiosity. I can now envision her soon being able to chill in her pack n play while watching mommy paint a few feet away.
I too, in a sense, feel like an infant that has a lot of growing to do before I’m able to obtain the comfort level I once had as an artist. I feel rusty. Very rusty. At this point, it’s close to a year since I was in the swing of creating. It’s going to take a lot of adjustment and discipline on my part to get back to where I was.
And that’s why I’m here. This is my attempt to hold myself accountable, and if nothing else, at least share my experiences so that other new creative moms in my shoes don’t feel quite so alone.
So, if you’re in the same boat or have this whole thing already figured out please feel free to share your journey with me.