Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Art is more important than laundry.

I get asked all the time, "How the heck do you have any time for artwork?" "Where does this energy come from?"

The answer is that I learned long ago that I needed to prioritize.

For a little background, I am the mom of three kids, aged 3 and under. I have a day job. I paint a lot. After my twins were born 10 weeks early and spent 2+ months in the hospital while we were also taking care of their 1-year-old older sister at home, I had severe post-partum depression. (I actually hadn't come out of it from the birth of their sister, but that's neither here nor there.) In any case, I got a big dose of Reality and What's Important and What's Not.

I learned that at the end of the day, What Was Important to me as a person - not a mom, not a wife, not the cook/manager/whatever of the household, was that I had time to paint. I went from painting once a week - on a special "Art Night" when I had hours to myself to paint and my hubby would watch the baby - to a desperate need to paint every single day, so that I could say I had done something for myself that was not baby-related. Sometimes that was what got me through the day - knowing that I could paint in 10 hours, when everyone was asleep and between feedings/heart monitor checks/medicine doses. I could paint whatever I wanted and not show anything to anyone, if I didn't want to.

While the depression is thankfully gone, and the kids don't require the intensive care they did in the early days, that need to create every day hasn't left me. In our house - and I think I say this so much I'm going to frame it and hang it up - we say, "Art is More Important Than Laundry." If I have a kid-free hour, you will most likely see me stepping over the laundry basket (clean!) to get to my paints, pencils, computer. And I have the complete support of my family, which only makes it better.
"I learned, again and again, the lesson of creativity: the painting I make today, the drawing I do today, the poem I do today, is meant to save my life today."
~ Judy Collins, Singing Lessons, a book I totally and whole-heartedly recommend.

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