My daughter was born last spring. Months of waiting, an induction, crazy contractions, some pushing and suddenly, I was a parent.
Not long after that we moved from Pennsylvania to Toronto for my husband’s job and I found myself in a new country with a new baby and without a work visa. I had always planned to be at least some version of a stay-at-home mom, but there was something about legally not being allowed to work that set me on edge. I felt stuck. Unemployed has a nasty ring to it. But you couldn’t say I was unoccupied. 24-7 duties as a diaper changer, tickle monster, sleep trainer, meal maker, safety net, and perpetual teacher and student of this wiggling, giggling, drool machine I had given birth to. I had plenty to do. And I’m still doing it–gladly.
People often ask me what I do. For a while, my response was something like, “I’m a stay-at-home mom. And I used to be a theatre teaching artist.”
Used to be.
Why did I respond like that? As if becoming a parent suddenly meant that I didn’t get to be an artist anymore. As if making the choice (and it was my choice) to be a stay-at-home mom meant that I could no longer be a part of the artistic community–much less contribute to it.
Then again, how could I do both? Theatre artists work at all hours. They have rigorous rehearsal schedules. Performances take up evenings and weekends. Productions can be all-consuming creative endeavors, whether you’re performing or working behind the scenes. And as a teaching artist, my art-making involved guiding and enabling others to create theatre themselves, so add crafting lesson plans and educational activities to the mix.
The active theatre-making lifestyle isn’t exactly conducive to the stay-at-home mother lifestyle I also wanted. I felt like I had to choose.
So I made a choice: to be both.
If as a teaching artist, I was inseparably both a teacher and an artist, why couldn’t I do the same with parenting and theatre? People will continue to ask, “What do you do?” Why not answer, “I’m an artist parent.”
To be clear, I did not invent this “artist parent” concept. Once I determined to seek out ways to embrace both my artistry and my motherhood, I started to hunt around the internet for support. Check out my Playmates page (in progress) for a list of other blogs and organizations that celebrate artist parents and their work. But I want this blog to be a little different.
This is a playground for artist parents. Here, we can reflect on the ways that parenthood and our children feed our art. Together we can combat the binary “either or” thinking that threatens to cripple our creativity. Whether you consider yourself a professional artist or not, this is a place for creative parents to share resources and support. This is a place to redefine “normal” art-making processes and products. This is a place to share and make art that is inspired by our role as parents, not in spite of it.
Welcome to the playground where we can celebrate and expand on our best work: our children. And they’re professionals when it comes to creativity. So let’s play together. Last one to the swings is a rotten egg.