|A concert with an audience of one.|
As a brand new mom, I remember hearing presentations at our national art education conference about the intersections of motherhood and academic life. I wasn't quite sure what all the fuss was about. I also wasn't sure what mothering was really about, or how to finish a dissertation when the birth of my first daughter happened before chapters 4 or 5 were even drafted. So in some sense, I knew exactly what the fuss was about. HOW DO YOU WRITE A DISSERTATION WITH SO MUCH FUSSING? All the time. Fussing.
The value of these conference sessions was really the women I met, who bravely shared their successes and failures of integrating their academic and home lives. In the years that followed, I spoke a few times with other art educator moms who talked about what seems to be the first thing to go once we have children and jobs: our practice as artists. I remember Kristin telling me about an art station she created near her door so she could work for small amounts of time while she was waiting for her kids to find their shoes, get their jackets, etc. before leaving the house. Despite my admiration for her brilliant solution, my children weren't old enough to even need shoes at the time. That wouldn't work for me, at least, not yet.
Now that my children are 3 and 5, I am starting to see the light. They know where their shoes are, can put them on, and if I am okay going into public with whatever they have on, they can get ready to go on their own. My partner supports my practice by agreeing to watch kids while I take creative writing classes every once in a while, and this semester, a book arts class taught by a gracious colleague in my department who is allowing me to sit in on her course.
|"Ready" to go to the grocery store.|
The other evening I wanted to work on some art, and decided to return to work after dinner with the family, and to take my girls with me. They entertained themselves for almost three hours in the classroom where I teach. In the picture at the top of the post, they are using markers to play the "drums" (plastic containers) and they are having a concert. The playlist went something like: Itsy Bitsy Spider, ABCs, Zaccheus Was a Wee Little Man, and a few improvised goodies. At one point, a student from the sculpture studio stopped in to see what the noise was about.
|Altered Book, Talks on Teaching (1881), accordion style, 2015|
|Sketchbook, double coptic binding, 2015|
|Sketchbook for Chris, coptic binding, 2015|
In that moment, I realized bringing my kids to work while I made art was perhaps one of the most successful ways I have negotiated my identities as mother and artist thus far. I snapped a picture and sent it to Kristin. I got 29 signatures created for the series of books I'm creating. The girls danced, drew, played, washed tables, ate chocolate, took 2,134 trips to the water fountain, and had a very enjoyable time. My partner got a break and a night to refuel without kids. I have made more work in the last year than I have made in a long time. And I'm starting to feel more like myself, somehow.
|Probably 1.5 years ago, on a trip to work with Mommy.|
|M/otherwork: Grading papers at home|
|One of E's many drawings on the chalkboard in my classroom.|
|"Mommy, do you see that pink I made?"|
|When Daddy drops them off at work so that he can go to work, sometimes I reward them for sitting quietly through meetings. In this case, "take your shoes off and jump in the puddles!"|
|On the way into Mommy's building...again.|
|You mean I have to wear pants?|
For more info. about the scholarship about motherhood, academia, and art education: