Those are the questions of a driven creative mom, ones I have been ruminating on since I ran into a fellow creative mom when picking up our kids from school.
She’d recently left her job to be a stay-at-home mom to her four boys – and to pursue her ceramics. She is serious enough about the craft that she has a wheel in her basement and a kiln in her garage.
I asked if she’d been finding time to actually get to her wheel.
“I get about an hour in the morning,” she said. Then she laughed. “My husband is worried about what I am going to do with all this ‘time’ I have now all day.”
I laughed too. It was a commiserating laugh; any stay-at-home mom knows that there is plenty to do. That needs to be done. I am reminded of that whenever I am faced with all those things that should be on my “to do” list which I haven’t gotten around to writing yet. Like:
•Wash and put away the winter coats (I did get all the sweaters put away!)
•Clean out the pots and pans drawer, full of stale macaroni for some reason…
•Clean out all the kitchen cabinets, in fact…
*Call the chimney man for seasonal cleaning of the wood burning stove
• Make all those other calls about the house:
• to have the driveway seal coated
• to find someone, not only to paint the exterior of the peeling house, but to replace the rotting shutters
•Call the plumber about the slow-draining bathroom sink
•Call the electrician about the dead outlet
•Rake out the pile of garden mulch on the side of the house
•Buy ant traps for those BIG damn black ants (I did conquer the tiny ones)
• Weed. Weed and weed. It’s only June but the vines loom.
• Clean the house. Get into the corners and dust the baseboards.
•Organize the basement, at least trail blaze a path to the washing machines
• Etc., etc.
Then there’s the daily to-do list: what actually does get done, though not necessarily instantly.
And why not?
Not because I am a lazy good-for-nothin’. Because making time to pursue my creative outlets, is finally as much a necessity as those to-dos. Otherwise, I am cranky. I can be mean. I can snarl and retreat to a corner like a rabid dog.
To avoid turning rabid, I make time to weave, to felt, to finish those almost-finished scarves, handbags, shawls, and tapestries, by giving myself more than just an hour in the mornings. After the kids go to school, I make my second cup of coffee and get to work. Most days, I work until noon. But some days, like this entire week, when I’m getting ready for a craft show, I may work until it’s time to pick up the kids.
So when I ran into this mom who I could see was already frustrated by how much time she now had but finally didn’t have, I wanted to tell her some secrets of the trade:
•Leave the breakfast dishes in the sink until dinnertime
•Leave the laundry in the dryer until after the kids are in bed (put it on the high setting for five minutes to get out the wrinkles)
•Maybe clean out a kitchen drawer or two while you’re waiting for a chicken to finish roasting in the oven
•Clean the bathrooms as you’re using them, wiping out a sink one day, scrubbing a toilet another. (In the mean time, fold the towels nicely so it looks as if you’ve actually cleaned. Illusions can go a long way.)
•Vacuum while your kids might be outside riding their scooters in the driveway after school (Maybe she actually has a cleaning person. Then there are no excuses.)
*Change the bed sheets on Saturday mornings when, with everyone home, you’re deprived of your morning routine, anyway
•Resist picking up the Legos your boys dumped on the floor; walk tentatively around them until you can make them pick them all up themselves
I didn’t suggest these tricks. Maybe because she has four boys while I only have two; I may be presuming she has more time than she finally does.
But even then, I bet that wheel beckons. And when it begins to beckon too loudly, when she finds herself too sleep deprived from sneaking downstairs to work in the middle of the night, one morning she might wake up and feel enlightened. At least enough to let the breakfast dishes languish in the sink until dinnertime.