It's Monday... and they're here. ALL of them. ALL. Of. Them. It snowed a little bit in North Carolina on Saturday (stopped snowing by noon), and the whole state lost its mind. They have called off school for Monday and Tuesday, and the roads are a disaster because no one seems to know how to deal with it. Coming from Vermont, this is kind of shocking, but I suppose if you only get snow once a year, maybe it makes sense. I miss snow. Anyway, the family is here and no one is getting out.
I love my family. Adore them. Yet, for some reason when they are here and I decide to go work in my studio, I feel as though I am being selfish or letting someone down.
I know this feeling is irrational, and maybe it's just a mom-thing. (Do guys have this problem? They don't seem like they do.) I remember having trouble even taking a moment for myself when my children were really young. In those days, even a closed bathroom door seemed to cause upset if you didn't sneak off successfully beforehand.
I remember one day clearly where my husband said "Go take a bath! Enjoy yourself!" So, I did! My husband was going to watch the kids and I was going to sit in a tub of hot water with a book and enjoy just sitting there. It was going to be awesome! Me. A Bath. A book! Maybe I'd even light a candle! JUST ME! I was going to make sure I pruned up before I even considered getting out.
Not five minutes later, while the water was running, the door started rattling. One of the kids had figured out where I had gone off to. Then the meowing started, because the cat figured it out too. Had camera phones existed back then, I would have taken a picture or a video. Instead, all I can do is say that I distinctly remember looking at the door and watching little fingers and paws come under the door and swipe at the air on my side, while my daughter loudly cooed "mooooooooooom?" under the door, and my toddler son slapped his hand on it and called out "MOM!" repeatedly.
I resisted for a few minutes, but finally I grabbed my towel and opened the door. Both kids, the cat, and the dog were all at the door waiting for me (and my husband was nowhere to be seen.) When I went downstairs, like a parade with everyone following me, I found my husband watching soccer in the family room. He looked up and said "Did you have a nice bath?"
You know those moments that leave you speechless, and yet you have so much to say at the same time? This was one of those. It was probably good that I momentarily lost my capability to speak, because most of what I would have said would have been... less than appropriate.
I did get my bath, eventually, but I realized that in order to get any "me" time, I was going to have to fight for it and guard it. As the children got older, things like privacy became something I didn't have to fight for because it became more natural and they needed me less. But when I started painting again... well, that was different.
My painting started back up, not as a business, but something I had always done. A hobby, maybe, except it never felt like a hobby to me. If you aren't connected on a visceral level to something, I don't know if I can explain it. I have hobbies, but it's the difference between having something to do, and doing something because you HAVE to and it's just who you are (and without it, you're a half-self, never really all the way "here"). Unfortunately, painting was always the very last thing I could do in a day. Everything else had to be done first, and it was the lowest priority to everyone else.
I realize, looking back, that I allowed my art to come last. I could have fought harder. I also realize that when you have young children, there are only so many minutes of the day and so many battles you can fight. I brought the art more and more into my life as I could, and I went professional with it when my son (youngest) was two years old. I would say it was part-time professional though, because raising children is a full time job and there were always so many things to do just being mom. Never mind when I went back to school and got my business degree, or went to work full time.
Fast forward to now, and I still feel like I'm not allowed to "go work" when the rest of the family is here, especially during the day. I feel like I am disappointing them. (It doesn't mean I don't work, necessarily, but I feel bad when I do.) One of my daughter's first posts on Facebook was that she felt like I was always painting when she had a question. That makes me both feel awful, like I have let her down somehow, and also good because she sees me working and she should see me working. She did get to ask her question though. I wonder what she thought I should have been doing instead when she wanted to ask a question? I may ask her that...
I want both my kids to see that a strong work ethic and that being true to yourself is important. But it still makes me feel bad to not achieve the super-mom status they way you want to when you have to choose and sometimes choose yourself instead.
Anyway, what this all means is that when the family is home, I feel like I can't work. Or, shouldn't work. I feel like now that they're all older, that if they're all home with nothing to really do (a rarity, usually), it means that I'm being selfish if I run off to my studio to work as I had planned. Because they all have their own lives now and I'm at the tail-end of our family being just us, I feel the need to grab these moments like the last fragments of the family I used to have before they glitter and dim into nothingness.
That's not exactly true, though, is it? Yes, this time is fleeting. But it all has been, since they were so little they couldn't exist without me, to now when I just want a moment of their time to tell them I'll always love them, even though they're practically adults. My painting time is fleeting too, though. My time to create something is dwindling every day, too. It matters, too. I matter too, and I shouldn't be the one doing all the accommodation.
Ahh, balance. Still searching for you, aren't I?
Well, on the positive, I compromised and did tax stuff for my business today. So, it was a necessary evil, I felt like I was being punished while accomplishing something (because, taxes), and I could pause what I was doing to accommodate my family as needed.
If I did taxes, is that a win? I think it's a win. Maybe. Stupid business taxes... but I'll take it as a win anyway!
They'll still be here tomorrow, but my plans are to accomplish more in the studio than I did today. I have polar bears that I need to paint! I hope to do that while I still see snow outside!