Again, Robert Genn has given me much to think about in one of his twice-weekly letters. this one strikes very close to home for me as well and I followed the links with interest. The letter is in response to an artist asking for advice on how to balance her art career and motherhood. Imagine how saddened I was to read so many of the comments. so many women saying that it was just impossible to be bth a mother and an artist, that it can’t be done, that it’s selfish to try and that it’s wrong to deprive your child. all the things, in fact, that Robert seemed to be concerned about in his letter.
Also, I want to mention the extreme expectations that current parents have for their children. Children have taken on a god-like role and have become the focus for everything from prepping for stellar futures to daily parental companionship. Parents sacrifice their own lives for the potential brilliance of kids. For better or for worse, raising kids well is the new religion.
Further, I wanted to say that letters like Cedar’s come in here like leaves from a shaken maple. I’m conscious that many artists, both male and female, use the advent of parenthood as a scapegoat for failing careers. Artists in this predicament need to examine their true motivation for this popular complaint.
It’s been my experience that dedicated artists will always find a way. I’m also happy to report that selfishness need not prevail, nor need the baby lie unchanged in its crib. The creative mind is always working, even during the application of nappies. Household workstations can be set up and work can continue between feedings and other downtimes. The intermittent business may actually benefit the art–for many of us, contemplation is a much needed ingredient to our progress.
[From Art and motherhood]
I worked throughout my pregnancy (despite many complications) and continue to work with my 5 month old baby. Part of it is luck, I have a wonderful baby and husband that helps me out enormously, but part of it is also sheer determination.
I am also worried about this new religion, it seems to be leading to a sense of entitlement and selfishness amongst children. I worry about women who lose their identities to their children and submerge themselves trying to be the perfect parent. Post Natal Depression is also up, I just can’t help but believe these numbers are linked. There is no such thing as the perfect parent and what works for one family may not work for yours. the best advice I’ve received is to do whatever works for you.
all of these subjects make me think about relative roles in the home and workplace. there is still an expectation that women will stay at home to raise their children, that their careers are temporary (as evidenced by the very large gap still in pay rates) and that we have a duty to surrender to our children. a few artist dads spoke out in the comments of this post, they find it just as challenging to balance their careers with their children. all working parents have this dilemma. the problem is that because so many artists are passionate about their jobs (and enjoy them!) it doesn’t always feel like work. this leads to a sense of guilt – I’m having fun so it can’t be real work! I’m not saying that women should all run back to the workplace, or that there is anything wrong with staying at home to be a full time parent. I’m not saying that any one option is the right way to go, I’m saying that it shouldn’t be assumed that the women are the ones to stay home and we certainly should not be penalized for it
Edit: in a rather amusing twist, this was supposed to be scheduled for later. as I was scheduling it Erica hit post.. apparently part of being a mother and businessperson is submitting a blog post even when you aren’t ready! I tried to stop it, but once it’s in the feeds there’s really nothing that can be done so oh well!