A visitor read my essay on being a hero. But, she asked, between babies and butterflies, cleaning and cooking, finding time for her partner and every else in life, how the heck do you find time to paint??
For Crystal: I feel your pain, and I remember those days. It ain’t easy, and I never said it was.
You are absolutely right. Those days when our children are young are so fleeting. It seemed endless at the time, but when I look back, I am amazed those tiny children are now young adults. As someone said, “The days are long, the years are swift.”
I chose to help them find butterflies, too! In fact, I did, over and over again. Time spent with your children is never wasted time. Even today, I hardly ever miss a chance to hang with my daughter, or spend some time with my son. When my husband says, “Do you wanna go for a walk?”, I rarely say no.
I get pretty lax about my work time in the studio, too. A friend in need, a bouncy dog on a beautiful sunshine-filled day, the giant dust bunnies under the table (oh, heck, I’ll be honest, all over the house) and there sits my latest project, taking a back seat to “something more important”.
But not for long.
It’s not about how much time you can spend in your studio. It’s about spending SOME time there. If all you can carve out is an hour every other week, then that time should be sacred.
It’s not about waiting til you have MORE time. That never comes. We all have our stuff. If it’s not our kids, then it’s a full-time job, or a more-than-full-time job, one that sucks up our evening and weekend hours, too. Or its other family issues–aging parents, a loved one with cancer. A flooded basement, a surprise visit from the in-laws, a party to prepare for. To quote Gilda Radner it’s always something. It’s recognizing the teensiest bit of time you can give yourself is precious.
It’s not about giving your all to one or the other. It’s about giving something to both. A wise woman once told me, “A woman CAN have it all. Just not always at the same time.”
And there is no simple, one-size-fits-all solution. Even when you find something that works, it can change in an instant.
I was very fortunate. I had a husband who fully supported my desire and worked with me to make it happen. A partner who recognizes your right to have space, and time for yourself, is a true lifelong partner. (You’d do the same for him/her, right?)
The first thing I needed was a place, a space, no matter how small, for my own. For MY projects, for MY supplies. Where I could shut the door when I left it, and know everything would be ready to go whenever I returned. No matter when that was.
We talked about how we could make that happen. The solutions changed with each child’s milestones, with our income, with our growing awareness that both of us needed this.
I used attic space behind a bedroom for a studio, working an hour or two the two or three mornings a week my daughter was in preschool. That handful of hours felt like a bit of heaven.
When my son was born, eventually he needed that room. I rented a small studio outside our home. (It was a very cheap studio!)
As they grew older and spent more time in school, or with their friends, or on their own activities, that was my chance to work more regularly.
Having a circle of supportive friends, who truly see you as an artist, and who remind you of that when you can’t remember, can be a life-saver. They hold your vision for you until you can carve out a little time for yourself. You’d do that for them….right?
My point was, if you would make that effort for your child, for your partner, for your friend…why wouldn’t you do it for yourself? Just a little.
And even when things get too crazy, don’t just don’t drop your dream and walk away from it forever. The hole in your heart, and your spirit, will remind you of your loss every single day.
That is not a good message to send to your kids.
Try to find a way to keep even a little of that dream visible in your life.
And never give up trying to find your own way to make that happen.