Exploring The Artistic Mother

Ever since I read this post on Jenny Doh’s blog about Shona Cole’s book, The Artistic Mother: A Practical Guide to Fitting Creativity Into Your Life, I have been musing.


I read on Shona’s blog that she:

wrote it for all those Moms who want to do something arty now while rearing their children, not waiting until they are older or they have the space (time or an art studio).

That so describes me. I struggle every. single. day. balancing my homemaking, homeschooling responsibilities and my inborn, God-given desire to be creative with my hands. I believe that most mothers have similar struggles. Whether their creative desires involve cooking or singing or writing or painting or sewing or woodworking or any number of other creative pursuits, most mothers who still have children in their direct care struggle with allowing themselves time to be creative.

And it struck me the other night that the operative word in our struggles might just possibly be “allow.” That night, I suddenly remembered my first day of vet school and how I was ecstatic that I was finally being allowed to begin working directly toward my life-long goal of being a veterinarian. There was no way that I could become a veterinarian without being allowed to be. All of my efforts to gain entrance into vet school still culminated in being allowed, by a group of men, to begin my formal studies.

I then started thinking about how I “allow” myself to spend time and energy on activities that fall beyond my primary parenting and homemaking responsibilities only when those activities will ultimately, in my conscious or sub-conscious evaluation, benefit the whole family. For example, I exercise at least five days a week. I exercise even when there is laundry to do. I exercise whether or not the floor is swept. I exercise even if the kids need to practice their strings. But, I can always justify (in my own mind) my exercising even when my parenting and homemaking chores aren’t completed because, ultimately, my good physical health benefits the whole family.

I also read the Bible every day. I read it whether or not the living room is picked up or the mail is put away or the math lessons are finished. I can justify my Bible time because, ultimately, my good spiritual health benefits the whole family.

I think other mothers do this, too. It’s my guess that scrapbooking is so popular partially because it fulfills a mother’s need to be creative and still falls into the “benefits the whole family” category since the mother is producing a record of family history in the process. At one point in time, I think that quilting served the same purpose. A mother could justify spending time quilting if she had a warm blanket for her family in the end. And the same goes for knitting and crocheting during a time when a mother’s family depended on her work for warmth.

However, the things I most like to create, that give me the most satisfaction and build me up the most, are not inherently “needed” by my family. That is not to say that they are not valuable. I believe that they add beauty to our lives and that is important. But if I never crocheted another scarf or hat, my kids would still be warm. If I never embroidered another bit of Scripture to hang on the wall, my kids would still be exposed to the Word.

I think I could argue with myself that spending time creating every day is as important to my emotional health as exercising is to my physical health or Bible reading is to my spiritual health. Yet, my arguments are somehow not convincing. I simply do not truly believe or accept that argument, when it comes down to it. If I did, I would not be writing this because I wouldn’t struggle with allowing myself time to create every day.

So, WHY do I believe that it is not “allowable” to spend time every day creating something? HOW do I convince myself otherwise? WHAT steps can I deliberately take to make a sincere change? These are the questions I’ve been exploring as an artistic mother.


7 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Sheree said,

    Too true. I was thinking about all this as I knit this lovely, yummy afghan (w/yarn that was kind of costly). It is NOT necessary, but the act of creating, even my simple pattern, does fulfill something inside me).

  2. 2

    MOM said,

    Just DO IT because you can, because you enjoy crafting, without worrying about why, how, etc. Just DO IT because you’re the MOM. That’s my final answer.

  3. 3

    Sheila R said,


    You are one of the winners of my Sweet Treats Charms. I would love to get it in the mail for you. Please email me your address at rumcraft@kc.rr.com

    Very true! Everyone needs their time to nurture themselves.

    Many Blessings!

  4. 4

    Amelia said,

    I’ve been thinking about this since I only “allow” myself to purchase craft supplies when I am making something for Etsy. I only “allow” myself time to make things when they are for someone else. Kind of like when I only made elaborate projects when I was entering them into 4-H. What’s the deal?

    I think that we’re always living in sacrifice mode…or at least I am. And it’s hard because if we choose to craft something else will suffer (as we’ve discussed time and time again). We can’t just do it because our time is not our own. Ever. Theoretically, I should have time during HarriEd’s naps, but she doesn’t even take naps by herself. It’s so weird.

    I was just thinking about talking to Steve about the importance of my taking time to craft. I may need his help in allowing myself time to do it. But it’s not like you have just ONE person taking up your time. You have fifteen million.

  5. 5

    These are such valuable words sweet Lisa! Thankyou for taking time to post these heartfelt things…………and reminding us to ALLOW ourselves to experience the gifts god gave us. you mentioned to me you are learning about how all these things are his gifts…..and for us, Art is truely one we cannot afford not to enjoy with him. Love your daughter and yours scarf!! Such happy colors! Sending love to you! XO

  6. 6

    […] So, what do these flowers have to do with The Artistic Mother post from a few days ago? […]

  7. 7

    […] Artistic Mother by Shona Cole. I couldn’t get this book off of my mind. I ordered the book. I blogged about it. I visited Shona’s blog and I discovered that there are other mothers out there who struggle, […]

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