Welcome to the Creative Mothers series – a fortnightly series of guest blogs for people to reflect on the impact of parenthood on their experience of personal creativity. If you would like to take part with your thoughts, please take a look at the Creative Mothers page and do get in touch.
Over the last couple of months, I have giggled, chortled and laughed out loud (as the kids say, do they still say that!?) at the Adventures of Beta Mummy. I am delighted to welcome said Beta Mummy to the Creative Mothers series today as she slightly nervously steps out from behind her doodles to stand next to them and share with us her personal story of creativity.
If this series has taught me anything (and actually it has taught me a lot!) it’s that creativity is diverse and can arise from almost any situation to bring a mostly positive effect on our lives and on our exploration of identity.
Happy events can spur us, personal illness can inspire us, the need to break a daily routine can encourage us, unexpected challenges can redirect us, and heartbreak? Well it’s time to hand over to Beta Mummy for that one…
Humour and Heartbreak
In conversation with lovely ladies in #TribalChat, the subject of creativity and motherhood came up, which prompted me to write down some thoughts I’d had about why I started doodling.
This post is very different from anything else I’ve blogged, so I’m a bit nervous about sharing it. My usual posts enable me to hide behind humour and silly pictures, but this one is just me and my keyboard. Me and my innermost thoughts…scary shit.
I started doodling because I was lonely. Several months earlier, my husband and partner of nearly 13 years had left me (and our two boys aged 3 and 1). Still heartbroken and somewhat bewildered by it all, but recovering from the initial, raw shock, I realised that I needed to reclaim something for myself, start searching for myself as “just me”, rather than myself as “us”. A friend gently suggested that rather than spending my evenings pacing the house, unable to settle, I do something productive, something creative. It’s no secret that art, in all its guises, can be cathartic and centering, but I protested, claiming that I wasn’t really the creative type. I’m an engineer, we tend to be very left-brained, and the last time I did anything remotely arty was back at school.
However, I pondered what my friend had said, and I picked up a notebook and pen that was on the table next to where I was sitting. I opened it up…and started doodling. All of a sudden I was transported back to my school days when I used to draw little cartoons of and for my classmates. Here’s one of them (circa 1999), that a friend has kept all these years, and sent me a photo of the other day (cringe!):
Anyway, that evening I sat and drew my pair of Baking doodles… It was fun to do, it whiled away an otherwise dull weekday evening, and when I snapped them and sent to the friend who suggested it, she seemed to think they were great! I did another few over the next couple of weeks, and she pestered to me to share them more widely, so I started my Facebook page, and then later, my blog. The feedback I get from my doodles is so positive – I’m rather bemused to find that apparently people think they’re funny – and I have come to realise that making people laugh is something which brings me a lot of pleasure. I’ve also realised that in fact I AM creative…I am under no illusions regarding the artistic quality of my doodles, but I like to think that they’re endearingly shabby! As for my subject matter…Beta Mummy is a caricature, but unfortunately I don’t have to employ an awful lot of artistic licence… Let’s just say that I can’t see myself running out of material anytime soon!
I am so thankful to have “found” my doodling habit, and my blog. It is my little outlet, my escape, my way of reaching out and connecting with people through art and laughter. I didn’t start out with any intentions whatsoever other than to fill in the voids of my evenings that were previously spent curled up on the sofa next to my husband. I still miss that, but am thankful to have found something new and exciting that I never would have thought of doing if it wasn’t for him leaving me – it’s a silver lining to a very dark cloud. And in the process of finding the world of blogging, and exploring my inner-illustrator, I am, bit by bit, finding out who I am, now, 13 years on from the person I was before I became one of two.
If you enjoy this series, please do check out the Creative Mothers page and contact me to be involved – I’d love to hear from you.