|Me and crafty author Pip Lincolne (pic: Clare Bowditch)|
The waitress serving me my coffee glanced at my copy of Motherhood & Creativity and asked if she could take a look.
Flicking through it she told me that, as a photographer with a three-year-old son, the book "looks like exactly what I need".
I asked how she was managing things and she said that she'd been struggling to find any balance until she got some great advice. "A woman told me to give myself the permission to go for what I want, and to be unforgiving."
Hurrah! Couldn't have said it better myself. "Permission" is such an important word for women -- one I use all the time! And the perfect thing for me to hear in that moment, too.
I have had a lot of thoughts swirling around my head since Clare, Pip and I took part in ABC774's Conversation Hour with Jon Faine yesterday.
If you listened in you'll know that the conversation went off in some pretty difficult directions. Overall, it made realise how important it is to keep validating the importance of creativity in our lives -- and that I need to find the words, and the strength, to keep doing just that.
Ever since I published The Divided Heart, I have been confronted by the number of detractors who (usually without actually reading the book) are determined to see it as a book of complaint -- privileged women indulging their hobbies and whingeing about their kids.
Not only does this attitude ignore the fact that art is the real work and livelihood of the women I have interviewed, it ignores just how central creativity is to a meaningful life for so many of us. To those who suggest this means they are not "putting their children first" -- surely kids are much better off with a mother who feels fulfilled and alive (if occasionally distracted and serving up Weetbix for dinner) than one who is profoundly frustrated and bereft!
(It was lovely it was to get the supportive text to the ABC from actor/musician Justine Clarke's husband while we were on air. What a man! Comments like those made all the difference.)
I could go on, except that the very eloquent Pip Lincolne has done it so much better in her blog post here - as have those who've responded. As she says, "Being creative or seeking fulfilment and meaning are not ‘first world problems’. Everyone deserves to live a full life, whatever that means to them. If we’re not here to make the most of things, what the heck are we here for? Someone? Anyone? Monty Python?!"
Monty Python might have a better answer, but in the world that we live in now, I'd suggest it's consumerism that's taking the place of creativity in many people's lives, and look where that's getting us...
Overland has a wonderful piece by Alice Robinson, "The Literary Mother Load", in the current issue of the magazine.
Robinson sums up the situation beautifully with her statement that "as a stay-at-home parent by day, a writer by night, I am doing what untold numbers of people in each camp, and all those in both, are doing: two challenging but largely unpaid jobs. ... each undervalued in the remunerative sense, but fundamental in the cultural." Hear, hear.