When my daughter was still an undetected fetus inside me, another parent told me that if I had a child, I wouldn't have time for art. I know every family situation is unique, but several years into my parenting journey I beg to differ.
Wherever there’s silence between the drumbeats of life, I create art. This isn't despite having a family. The rhythm is driven by the tempo of my family. Before becoming a person with a child, my tempo was arbitrary; now the beat is strong and unavoidable. If I pause, I’ll get trampled.
It’s easy for the flow to be thrown off by a broken washing machine, a lazy evening, an illness, a death. I brace myself and stay the course. When everything goes at a steady pace, it makes me think of a factory, when everyone is moving in step and something larger is created.
I’ve found I can make art alongside my child. I can smooth a rough part of a sculpture while observing her shape her own lump of clay, and we can both play with paints until table and hands need a good washing. But some art needs to be done alone, and so I do it in quiet moments that I create.
Often the best way to be inspired is to follow the lead of my little one. Our play sessions can easily be anything from improv comedy to tickle fights to an engineering challenge with wooden blocks. Baking a pie turns into the science of mixing dough, water, and wet tissues. This unscripted playfulness opens my mind. I remember the nighttime dreams of childhood — colorful upside-down worlds that filled notebook pages and imaginings the next day. I have access to them again if I pay attention to the muse in front of me, even if her favorite phrase is “poop bubbles.”
So, within the chaotic inspiration of life with a child, I am creating more. It’s a paradox. If anything, I have less time and expectations are often dashed. Maybe it’s the unpredictable energy that propels me to seize the time I do have, to savor it. Maybe I just want to say “I told you so” to those who’ve tried to discourage me.
All I know is I’ll keep creating, and I’ll be a better parent for it.