In common with all new parents, the birth of my first child in October 2016 changed many things in my life. One of those fundamental changes has been the way I think about my career and my career as an artist. I have always seen having a career (whether as a teacher or as a curriculum developer or fill-in-the-blank with the many odd jobs I’ve had) and being a writer as separate and unequal parts of myself. In many ways, the latter has seemed at times indulgent, financially insecure, and most lamentably for myself, I have thought “it is just not what people do.” Not surprisingly, I have formed a habit of seeing motherhood as yet a third unequal part of myself. And, of course, being “Motherhood,” it takes over everything. I want to challenge myself - this long held belief of mine that it is nearly impossible (or possible for only a few really great artists) to be both a great mother and a great artist. I’m not evoking martyrdom in this endeavour (I simply can’t function on less sleep) nor am I suggesting “greatness” as equivalent to flawlessness or even as a point of comparison; I simply want to challenge my habit of mind and reframe it.
I no longer wish to believe or perpetrate the notion that being creative, that being a writer (a poet - gasp!), is at odds with being a mother and is at odds with contributing meaningfully to the world. (At the very least I can say I will not be profiting in all kinds of egregious ways on the labor of others. And, perhaps at best, I serve as a model for my daughter for how to be in the world). “I’d like to imagine the two roles mother and artist not as competing directions, but to view them, force them gently if necessary, to inform one another.”
I will undergo this self-imposed artist residency for one month starting August 14th in order to daily make incremental shifts on my perspective to view motherhood and creative life as symbiotic ways of being. It is not without coincidence that it’s the time of year when I might be fortunate enough to go back to Bread Loaf and find new energy to continue writing and make lasting friendships. In my self-imposed residency, I will “fully experience and explore the fragmented focus, nap-length studio time, limited movement and resources and general upheaval that parenthood brings and allow it to shape the direction of my work, rather than try to work “despite” it.”