"I’ve often been struck by the intensity of the guilt that is frequently imposed upon mothers who take time to follow their creative dreams. It sometimes seems as though a woman is no longer perceived to be herself once she becomes a mother. "
“I’ve put my career on the back burner while the kids are young.”
“I had to choose, and my kids come first.”
“I’ll get back to my career/art/writing/dancing/studies/travel/[insert your passion here] when the kids are a little older.”
You’ve heard all this before, right? You’ve probably uttered some of these phrases yourself. Have you also worried about whether you’ll ever get back to pursuing the dreams that were yours before you became a mom?
Work or motherhood? Responsibility or creativity? Self-development or martyrdom?
These are only some of the big questions tackled by the film Who Does She Think She Is? The documentary follows five women who are both mothers and artists. It chronicles their daily struggle to reconcile the often conflicting demands of motherhood and muse. Though their artistic endeavors cover a wide range of mediums – painting, sculpting, print making, and the performing arts – these women share a common bond, each of them has overcome daunting hurdles (including divorce, discrimination, and financial difficulties) in order to pursue their passions.
I’ve often been struck by the intensity of the guilt that is frequently imposed upon mothers who take time to follow their creative dreams. It sometimes seems as though a woman is no longer perceived to be herself once she becomes a mother. I do not at all contest the life-changing, priority-rearranging impact of becoming a parent. But it makes me sad to think of all the women who have chosen or been forced to set aside their most authentic selves in order to fulfill a single role as “mom.” Every woman is multi-dimensional; it’s a terrible shame to let one aspect of our identity consume all others.
It may be a terrible shame, but it’s easy to see how it happens. How many times a day do you put your needs last? Women, especially moms, are notorious for taking care of everyone (and everything) else before taking care of themselves. Personally, I can hardly manage to get past the guilt I feel for wanting to take twenty minutes at the end of my day to just sit. Although I have a number of creative projects I’d like to pursue, I don’t seem able to justify making the time to act on that urge. I haven’t learned how to give myself permission to put my creative desires first.
It’s interesting – the job of parenting and the job of being an artist are each often devalued by our society. And yet, both of them speak to and call upon the deepest, truest, and most passionate parts of the individual – they transform us in ways we could never have imagined. I’m heartened to know that some women have found ways to weave these two halves into a whole and look forward to seeing the film for myself when it comes to my neck of the woods in January.
Do you have a personal story of meshing a creative journey with motherhood? We’d love to hear how you’ve managed to live with a foot in each world, so to speak. Have you seen the film – what did you think?
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