I’m coming to the final interviews stage of my upcoming book on motherhood, creativity & spirituality (working title ‘Stirring the Cauldron’ – is it too witchy? Not sure). I’ve interviewed about 15 mothers so far and it’s yielded some fascinating material. Here is an excerpt from some of the material I’ve written so far, reflecting on my own experience: ‘The concept of ‘just being present’ is a spiritual ideal to be found in many different books, emphasised by many different speakers. But it just doesn’t always seem that applicable, as a mom. Sure, there’s being present to your child: listening to them, really seeing them in front of your eyes and not some projection; but part of being creative is that you can’t control when those surges of inspiration will strike.
So your child could be entertaining you with a story of a robot he’d like to invent, and you’re doing your utmost to stay with it, when right then a new line of a poem, or a title for a story, strikes, and your’e faced with the dilemma: do you stay in that moment, listening, being the ‘good mother’, or do you make your earliest way to your notebook and pen? How the hell do you do it without losing the thread, or before your child starts off on another thread?
The creative thread never to be found again, lost in a hopeless tangle along with all the others in the bottom of your weary mind. So, there’s a sense in which you constantly have several different realities concurrently operating. In the light of this, the concept of presence takes on a different tone: how do we remain present to ourselves, our breath, our creative ideas, our emotions, while still being present to our children? Honouring all of those parts of ourselves at once.
Part of my journey has been to recognise and accept that the Earth Mother is only part of who I am. When I let Earth Mother run the show – and often she’d do that with a big club over the head called Guilt – my inner Artist would come out screaming ‘Give ME some attention!’
If I focus exclusively on mothering and don’t write for a week or more, paying scanty attention to my yoga practice, I soon find myself feeling as depleted as a leftover party balloon, as if inspiration had left my very breath and body. I’m learning that taking care of myself can mean different things at different moments. Sometimes it’s lying in bed till 10 am. Sometimes that would be just avoiding my creativity and result in a feeling of lethargy.’