From Larissa, Stories

5 favorite things I’ve learned about creative moms

December 23, 2014 From Larissa, Stories

Maybe it’s the mulled wine or being stuck inside with bored kids climbing on me, but this time of year always makes me a tad nostalgic. This week we’re celebrating our 20th week of Mommikin and I started musing about the wild ride it has been so far.

When Lina (my lovely Mommikin co-founder) and I started Mommikin, we knew there would be challenges. What mom has ever complained about needing one more thing to do? However we passionately wanted to create a resource to celebrate, encourage and share ideas with other creative moms.

We’ve learned a lot over the last 20 weeks — adjusting, revising and constantly growing. Practically every week Lina or I ask “When do you think it’ll slow down?” and we reassure ourselves that next week will be very quiet…which never seems to quite happen. Some things have been expected (yes, moms are super-busy!), some unexpected (it’s been a continuous crash-course on a million things I never thought I’d need to know), and many, many things that blindsided me in a completely wonderful way. Here are some of my favorite things I’ve learned from working on Mommikin so far.


1. Lack of time CAN be a benefit

When we started, I prepared to hear a lot of complaining from moms about not having enough time to pursue their creative interests. And we definitely do hear a lot about time-constraints and the struggle to juggle everything. However what I wasn’t prepared for is how many moms turned this lack of time into a positive. Several mentioned that it helped them abandon the overly critical approach to their work that paralyzed them in the past and actually grow creatively.

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“My time perspective has certainly changed, having a child. Projects and ideas are more quick to happen, ironically enough, because I don’t spend as much time hashing things out in my head. For better or worse, I jump right into new ideas, am more flexible with change (for the most part) and get things moving quicker.”
Nicole Robinson, Photographer
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“As all parents know finding time to pursue a passion or hobby can seem almost impossible when you have kids, so when I do get time I appreciate it so much more. I tend to pour more of my soul and passion into my art now because I don’t know when the next time I’ll be able to sit and paint will be.”
Ruth Oosterman, Painter

2. You can make it as a renaissance woman in a specialized world

In a world that likes to pigeon-hole everyone, we tend to think you have to specialize, specialize, specialize. The standard thinking is to succeed you need to find a narrow niche and rarely venture out. However I’ve been delighted at how many of our moms explore and succeed in a diverse range of materials, themes and roles. I love seeing how their projects often seem, on the face of things, so different, yet as you look closer you can see the common threads.

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“While I’m all for emotional self-expression, my work (both fine art and design) has gravitated towards problem solving. Setting up a set of parameters and trying to find the best answer to the questions I posed to myself.”
Sonjie Solomon, Industrial Designer and Artist

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“Each day is combination of creative and management activities. I’m a freelancer and I work on my space organization projects only when I have commissions. And when I don’t, I continually work on my art and personal design projects.”
Pauline Galiana, Visual Artist, Jewelry Maker, Graphic Designer and Interior Space Organizer

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“I work with my hands and even when my drawings or sculptural models are scaled up for public spaces the work is always based on something I made by hand. It’s not unlike handwriting – everyone has their own recognizable style even without cultivating it.”
Andrea Dezsö, Visual Artist working in embroidery, 3D books, mosaic, watercolor, steel, sand-blasted glass and more

3. A great creative partner makes all the difference

Every couple days Lina and I have official “morale checks” — like it sounds, it’s half silly and half serious. Anyone who has taken on a long-term creative endeavour can tell you, no matter how much enthusiasm you begin with — it’s hard to maintain. Whether the pop-up just consumed Lina’s Saturday (and still isn’t working) or the article I spent all morning editing sudden disappeared — some days just suck. Add the chaos of having kids and it can feel really daunting to even try to start something new. However working with a great partner has made all the difference. Having someone to kill my terrible ideas and encourage the ones that just might work has been invaluable. I love getting late night emails from Lina full of some exciting insight she just had and she always pushes us to think big-picture and create better work. We often think of creatives as toiling away, alone in some garret apartment but actually usually the best results comes out of a combination of solo and group work.

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“Together with my incredible supportive powerhouse critique group, we eventually put together a book dummy on the life of Carl Sagan. When the book was ready to pitch to editors, [my book agent] Abi put together a gorgeous letter and sent it out with the dummy, and it quickly found a home. Then my super smart, savvy, brilliant editor helped me shape the final book.”
Stephanie Roth Sisson, Illustrator and Author of Star Stuff

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Being an editor and agent is like being the midwife, while being an author is like giving birth. Of course, in reality, it’s quite a bit less messy, as least in the physical sense. But what you’re doing as an editor and agent is helping someone else fulfill their creative vision. As a writer, you’re working to fulfill your own creative vision. It’s important to me not only to help artists create their work, but to also work on my own stories.
Abigail Samoun, Children’s Book Editor, Agent and Author

4. Children are a great fount of creative inspiration

Whether it’s seeing life anew or less critically, I always love hearing how each mom’s experience is somehow universal and unique at the same time.

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I learn a lot from my daughter. I admire her freedom to create, her lack of judgment and problem solving skills. I find it amazing how much of this naive and genuine creative drive gets lost when we grow up.
Ula Bochinska, Architect

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There is nothing like having a new experience like parenting, and one that nothing can prepare you for, to make you see the world anew. Add to that the joy of seeing a new person discover the world, and the everyday objects, scenes and routines the rest of us have ceased to notice, and you have a whopper of new lens to see through. And the best part? You get to look through this new lens as the adult, informed person you are, with all the awareness of your own frame of reference. It wakes up a person’s creativity, and tingles the neurons.
Ned Glaettli, Visual Artist

5. Everyone needs help, don’t be afraid to ask.

I know personally this is a hard one for me. We all want to do everything — have a fulfilling career, kids we spend tons and tons of quality time with, meaningful relationships and maybe even possibly exercise or pursue a hobby every once in a while. It’s like a shimmering mirage hanging over all our heads that it’s possible…somehow. But again and again, the moms I talk to refer to some help she got along the way.

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We have to be better taking time for ourselves – talking to our partners and kids about what’s needed week-to-week so we can do the things that fulfill us. By communicating what you’re doing, why it’s important, and how they can help, you’ll all get closer and have more fun (and not feel so guilty!).
Michelle Ward, When I Grow Up Creative Career Coach

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Don’t try and do it all yourself. I know as mothers it is easy to feel responsible for our kids, partners and the entire household but it is ok to ask for help. If you are worn out and grouchy all the time it isn’t positive for anyone. Try not to feel guilty about hiring a nanny or having your partner take the kids for a few hours so you can have some time to yourself.
Jeanene Mack, Wellness Coach and Stylist

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes make the mistake of reading articles about the “Mommy Wars.” Reading the comments always makes me feel like we, as moms, are just out to get each other and criticize each other for each and every little thing. So I’ve been incredibly thankful for all the time, support and love from everyone to make Mommikin happen. Nearly everyone we’ve approached jumps at the chance of helping other moms and sharing their hard-earned lessons. That’s been very heartening. Thank you!