Welcome to the first edition of the Creative Mothers series of guest blogs. I am passionate about creativity and interested in the impact of motherhood on personal creative expression which is why I’ve started this series. If you would like to add your thoughts to the conversation, please visit the Creative Mothers page for more information about the series and how to get involved.
Now on with the first contribution! I’m very excited to be introducing you to Laura to kick off things off. I worked with Laura at an Arts Festival MANY years ago for a brief but significant time. I’m really pleased that she has agreed to take part in this project – Laura offers a fascinating insight into her journey with personal creativity, from a career immersed in the arts, to some tough prioritising and the reconciling of motherhood with that career, and then finally to finding new ways to create, for herself and with her children. Over to you, Laura!
My name is Laura and I’m now a stay at home Mum (or SAHM if you’d prefer!) to two beautiful girls, Annie (2 ½) and Izzy (7 months). I currently work part time running TinyTalk baby signing classes.
When I began my working life 10 years ago (wow!) this is not what I thought I’d be doing 10 years later. My university degree in film and theatre was all about creating art not tiny humans. From a young age I wanted it all. I tried everything. Acting, directing, some rather awful costume making, poetry (also not my forte!), choreography and lighting design. I took it all in, wanted to be in it day and night and I loved the sense of family that came from being in this close-knit circle of people. While the ‘day-to-day’ sometimes got in the way of the fun, we generally just all wanted to be creative and feel alive with our creativity in this incredibly competitive industry.
I ended up working in Marketing after being up against 160 people for the job (I said it was competitive!); I had aspirations to move into event management and producing. I had big plans but unfortunately for me it wasn’t that simple…
I have a gynecological condition called Endometriosis that causes pain, fatigue and digestive problems. Sadly it can also make you infertile and it gets worse over time with no cure, which meant I had to start thinking about my future before my career had even started. I worked in an industry where babies weren’t on the agenda for many people, if any, and this was hard for me to get my head around. I did end up meeting the love of my life, however, (sad but true) so I decided to make a choice: to try and put my health first and have my babies earlier than I’d ever planned (to be honest I never thought of having a family until someone told me I couldn’t!).
I don’t believe you can have it all and that’s not the pessimist in me but the realist. I saw friends with families in the arts and I am now in awe of them and wish I’d been around to help them more. Balancing a job in the arts and having a family is not an easy feat and you need to have a great employer and an understanding partner. This is something I wish wasn’t the case but unless you have help then it would be impossible. It’s a world where you can work all day, all night and weekends with no paid overtime. This life would soon become less appealing when you could be having bedtime cuddles. I came from a family with hardworking parents who didn’t have the choice to be with me every night and every weekend, which meant that if I could be there for my children I would be.
After making the difficult decision to leave my career I was lucky and gave birth to my baby girls. Being a Mummy changes every part of you; I wish someone had given me some warning. I think I may have been naive or just stupid but I wasn’t expecting this whirlwind of extreme happiness, frustration, tiredness and gratitude.
I started to question my creativity because I like being creative on my own terms and when you’re a Mummy nothing is on your terms! At first it felt something had been taken from me that I would never get back but being creative as a Mummy is becoming the norm. Children love to create and as they grow older I find it easier and more exciting to enable them to do this. Every day we produce different juices & smoothies, we paint pictures (yes I do my own too) and bake cakes in the kitchen. My new love of food (I’m not a good cook!) surprised me the most and creating in the kitchen is the time I enjoy most with Annie.
I decided I needed to keep a sense of creativity that is removed from my gorgeous girls so I started running my own business with TinyTalk Baby Signing. The classes are for 0-18 months and we sing, sign and enjoy sensory activities. This basically means I get to dance, sing and prance around for little people, which I love. Seeing a mums face when their one year old can ask them for food or sign to them that their teeth hurt just fills me with pride. Babies are a lot easier to work with than artists that’s for sure!!
Do I miss the buzz, the stress and the smell of the theatre? Well yes but I’m only 31 and right now I know what my priorities are and I love it, but who knows what will happen next?!
For more info on Endometriosis please visit: www.endometriosis.org