Before we brought our baby home almost two years ago, I thought I had my life pace figured out.
I was in the process of re-defining parenthood as mother without children in her home, but a mother nonetheless. I founded Our Courageous Kids to help me (and others) empower children around the world.
My writing felt like it was in the flow.
My best creative hours of the day were from 3-7 pm (weird, I know). I used the mornings for appointments, errands, and phone calls. The afternoons opened up rich space for me to get lost in the writing zone.
But then came a little person. And this little person made my good life even better. But . . .
Trusted friends way ahead of me in the mom journey had warned me ahead of time, “Getting married is easy. Having a child changes everything.”
I heeded their words. Thanks to infertility I had a long time to imagine what I might become. And then when 1st day of motherhood came, I expected to be magically transported into another mystical planet where I’d meet: “Elizabeth, the mom.”
Because, that’s what happens right?
But, if there was one thing I knew for sure in the first weeks of my daughter’s life, it was that yes, somethings change. And somethings didn’t change at all.
Sure, I didn’t sleep as much or eat out like I used to or leave the house without a plan first. (No more traveling on a whim!)
Yet, I still wanted to be creative. I still wanted to type out long first drafts of stories I hoped someone would read. I still wanted to soulfully abide in a community of thoughtful people even though I was now “Elizabeth, the mom.”
But, how? How could I do both well especially as I took on a part-time pastorate last year too?
For when it came to my personal projects . . .
No longer could I count on my 3-7 pm hours as writing time– for any parent can tell you that this is the heart of the child care zone of dinner, bath and bedtime.
No longer could I organize as I felt the creative wind– for the working mom life is all about “I have this block of time to get this done before my child care is over” and then you’re done. NO second chances.
No longer could I dance with words as my vocation for the day– for my first attention went to church work and suppertime.
So, how in the world can you be creative in a season of life that’s overcrowded?
All I know is this: in the past year especially, there have been pockets of grace where my schedule suddenly clears I know it’s God saying, “Just write.” And I try to pay attention.
Or a guest speaker comes to church, and I use my regularly scheduled sermon time on Friday afternoon for creative prose.
Or there is that blog post that I must write even when I don’t have the time to write it.
And then there are gifts like the week I’m currently experiencing as I’m a resident at The Collegeville Institute for the next 9 days in this beautiful place. The teacher has given us every morning to just write, write, write. Oh, Minnesota summer I am savoring you (and time to write this post!)
So, here’s my word: if you’re in a season figuring out how to be creative no matter your circumstances, all I can say is hold on. Pay attention. The gifts will come in all their different forms.
In my case, parenthood changed me of course. I know all the words to Goodnight Moon and all the most annoying Elmo jokes for starters. And I love another person more than I thought was possible.
But as Mary Oliver says, I still have my “place in the family of things.”
My place finds me as I write.