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03/28/2010


My Artistic Heart as a Mother • by Shona Cole


October 1, 2005: For the first time in my life I am still. For a full 20 minutes. No kids, no questions, no noise except the hum of the MRI machine. Nothing to do but reflect. Reflect on how I came to be in here.

I always had an artistic heart. I had some vague dreams of being an author, an artist, a poet, an actress, even a dancer. But I never really pursed my dreams. I focused on academics instead. I got a master’s degree in psychology and worked in the social services. Doing art was something I had dabbled at, something I didn’t take too seriously.

When I became pregnant with my first child I rediscovered my love of painting and discovered crafting, but it took a long time before I learned to truly how important it was to me and my sense of well being.

Finding my Footing as a Mother
Once I had my son somewhere deep inside me longed to be a good momma. So I poured myself into learning the ropes of motherhood. I read, no, I studied books and magazines on parenting. I talked to other mothers, asked questions about how to schedule feedings, how to educate my child, how to interpret developmental milestone and more. I studied my kids’ personalities and behaviors and adjusted my parenting strategies accordingly. I carved out a vision of what motherhood looked like for me.

All of this took time.

As I found my footing as a mother, I realized that I had neglected me — my dreams and desires and wishes, vague as they were had been cut adrift. I can’t blame being a mom on my neglect of self; it was my faulty goal planning and unrealistic vision of what it means to be successful that hindered me. What do I mean by that?

Well, I had the idea in my mind that to achieve anything significant meant that I had to devote hours and hours of time focusing on achieving my dream. I looked back at my life before kids and saw that I had not really achieved very much anyhow, so now with even less free time, my dreams seemed even further away. So there was I alone all day with screaming kids, or so it seemed to me, and nothing to look forward to.

I got depressed. Then I ended up in that MRI machine with symptoms that the doctor said had a psychological cause! This was serious. My neglect of self was making me appear ill.

My husband started taking the kids out on Sunday evenings, leaving me with time to think and plan alone, uninterrupted. In that space I determined to revisit my old vague arty goals and dreams and find a way to pursue them without taking my eye off my desire to be a good mom.

Wow, tall order!

Loving my Kids even more with my Art
At first I had low expectations, but any little thing I did was better than nothing — so I started doing small amounts of artwork in the evenings. I started staying up late and trying out all the techniques in mixed media books and magazines. I made Somerset Studio magazine challenges my deadlines and begun sending my art in to the magazine.

Bit by bit I was creating artwork that I was pleased with, that filled my home and drew positive feedback from others. Each creation was a tangible affirmation, a mini triumph. All this I achieved by adding small bits of art to my life every day. It kept me focused, content, and busy. It gave me something to look forward to. I was beginning to feel the sweet balance between being a good momma and a fulfilled creative person. Today, my artistic mommy career is in full swing. I have learned to integrate my art into my life and mom duties. I have not struggled with depression ever since I made the choice to follow this path. And every day I look at my kids through the lens of artistic impressions and can love them even more! That is why I am a firm believer in the CRESCENDOh vision.

Shona Cole is a mom of five children under the age of 10. She is the author of The Artistic Mother — A Practical Guide to Fitting Creativity into your busy Life, which she wrote for moms like her who are choosing to find some artistic “me” time. She hopes you will check it out at amazon.com/Artistic-Mother-Practical-Fitting-Creativity/dp/1600613489/ref=nff_at_ep_dpi_1. You can also visit her at her blog, An Artful Life, at shonastudio.blogspot.com.

Comments

It's lovely to read the experiences of how motherhood changes and affects the lives of women so much...I think sometimes people assume because it's a natural process everything should be fine and dandy. Thanks for sharing your story :)

Wow what a truly beautiful story!
I am so glad you found your way, and that you are sharing it with the world:)
Thank you!

Thanks Shona, for showing us how it is possible to find yourself among the chaos. I love my children and included them in a lot of my art, but never find the courage to submit any.
I am glad you lit a path, with your experience, your book and
sharing your story.

I saw your book a couple of weekends ago in Barnes & Noble and was immediately drawn to it, as an artistic mama myself.

I'm grateful that your art saved you from depression.
Inspiring!

your artistic soul stepped up to rescue you ~ the body and mind will always rally when you neglect this deeprooted part of your essence

and art wants to be shared ~ it is how we brighten the consciousness of our
world through art

thank goodness too ~ you have a gorgeous spirit and magical heart and your art which
i find absolutely incredulous because you are beautiful at everything! painting, music, poetry, writing, photography....

actually you and susan tuttle are so similar this way

:) happy tuesday lovely friend

What an amazing story, Shona. It shows how truly important it is that we nourish ourselves as well so that we don't burn out and fall into depression. I see from your story that when we take that time for ourselves, we are not neglecting our families. We are making a richer life for everyone. If Mommy is happy, she will have more to give to her family. Thank you for sharing your story. It is very inspiring. I'm sure it will help many women

Thanks for sharing Shona! Some things echo in me, especially the "If I take time for me it is not something I should feel guilty for, I don't take it from my children" ^^

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