Nurturing the Creative Mother
For centuries throughout the ages women have poured their creativity into various forms, from culture to culture across the world. Weaving, spinning and embroidery, gardening, fashion, jewellery and hair design, education, art, writing, science, medicine, music, dance and theatre, nature-knowledge and spirituality, bread-making and cooking; you name it, we have done it or used it to give form to the creative fire within us.
And depending on the particular age or culture that women belonged to, this has not always been an easy task, and for some even now it remains difficult. But women continue to find ways to express the creative instinct, even within the restrictions of their social traditions, finances, time and place.
For a lot of modern women life is busy, very busy and any free time may get easily tied up the many distractions around us. Mothers will prioritise maintaining the family needs as well as their own and this leaves even less ‘me-time’ on their hands to play with. So my question is why is it so important for us to make more space in our lives to explore our creative side?
To best illustrate this I wonder if you remember as a child having completed a picture or a clay pot or a story, or even making up a poem or dance, and having been in your own creative world for the whole time you were working on it and then wanting to show someone and say “I made this!”?
Well here you have the two stages of creativity; firstly, the creative process which can be like a trance-state, especially in children, when we are truly engaged in the immediate act of making or performing. This is such an enriching and freeing experience and brings the value of play, self-expression and inspiration into our lives. As we grow older the creative process can become more self-conscious and critically aware but it holds the potential to help us access that incredibly nourishing state of ‘emersion’ in the present moment and in the creative flow that we knew as children.
Secondly we have the stage of personal recognition and sharing with others which can bring up mixed emotions, aversion, vulnerability, success and achievement. For some people the fear of this stage can sabotage even embarking on the first stage at all which is a great shame. This often derives from criticism in childhood that can destroy a child’s sense of creative self-confidence and can continue to challenge the child as they become an adult still in fear of other’s judgements.
If this happens and causes a creative block then continuing to practice just for ourselves, to do or to make what we love regardless of others opinions, can be a healing route back to the truth of who we are. And creativity does have the power to heal and change us if we allow ourselves to use it in this way. So if this can be true for both genders then why is creativity particularly relevant to women and to mothers?
Initially one might argue that, whether we ever have children or not, women innately embody the archetypal creative principle simply because we have the capacity to create new life from our own bodies (with a little help). Our ancestors certainly made the connection between women and the Earth which is constantly ‘giving birth’ to new life in ever moving cycles of growth. So when we recognize our creative impulse we can also embrace this wider view of the feminine into our sense of purpose.
And without wanting to generalize I would say that for many women, creativity is a practical tool that can invoke a therapeutic and meditative space in which we can meet ourselves. It provides time for reflection and for the deepening of self-confidence, discovery and joy and it can help us to combine a sense of achievement with self-nurture and focus.
For those of us who are mothers, our lives operate within a ‘family’ dynamic (however that may look), which may mean that we can become overwhelmed with the on-going tasks of care-giving, the responsibility and management of a family and how it fits together on every level from the practical to the emotional.
When we have babies or young children we are often nourishing others and just ‘maintaining’ ourselves, unless we are lucky enough to have regular help with child-care. This is okay for a period of time but when you factor in sleep deprivation, the stress of work, school runs or perpetual domestic chores it can mount up into a road-block to well-being. We can lose a sense self, of individuation and how it feels to just be at ease. We can give so much that we forget how to receive from life.
Yet the feeling of well-being generated from the act of expressing our gifts and doing what we love has the capacity to counter this stuck feeling and actually support us, even through the tough times. It can give us that much needed moment’s pause, that breath, to get some perspective by engaging with our own special project.
And for mothers whose children are older and more independent, space can become available to us that may just get filled up again with ‘stuff’ if we don’t make a boundary and say “this is MY time”. In both instances, carving out time to nurture the creative instinct is a great way for us to find balance and to develop our personal well-being. Creativity is not something we consume, buy or get from anyone or anywhere else. It originates from our own personal reservoir of delight and it feeds us so much.
And when our children see us making choices to be creative whenever we can be, they receive the subliminal message that this is a worthwhile undertaking. In the current climate of screen-dependency and passive entertainment, our children actually do need to see that some of their role models are creatively driven rather than purely consumers. By enriching our own lives we can inspire them or at least get them thinking about this and give them confidence to do or create what they love in the same way.
Looking at the recent interest and revival in older-style crafts among western women there is evidence enough to suggest that the quick thrill of consumerism is just beginning to wain in favour of the urge to experience making and creating for ourselves again. And the more we trust this instinct, the more it will challenge and inspire us, leading us to wider vistas of personal enjoyment and creative accomplishment. And in this sense, the future can be whatever we make of it.