After 5 weeks of being at their Dad’s house, my kids just arrived home! This is the first time since I gave birth to Emily almost 16yrs. ago that I’ve been without them for that long. It wasn’t that they were shipped across the world…just across town, but they were living life away from me…the day to day activities, the dinners together, the story times, the drop-offs and pick-ups were all their Dad’s responsibility and I was solo.
At first, the fun factor kicked in and I felt elated….”Wow! Elida, what do you want to do? You have 5 weeks of uninterrupted time to travel the world, to create art, to learn a new language, to learn salsa or flamenco…the skies the limit!”
Then the responsible side of me said,…”Wow! Elida, what are you going to do? You should work extra hard, get your studio cleaned out, move the kid’s rooms, re-decorate the house, paint 100 paintings, work, work, work!”
The reality is… I did a little of both. I learned to salsa dance, took a flamenco workshop, I finished my taxes, I created a groupon account and worked to re-do my website, I painted two murals and organized my studio. I did two small road trips to Central Oregon & Spokane. I didn’t get the rosetta stone yet for learning Italian, and I also didn’t get the kid’s rooms switched out or anything else with organizing the house. As much as I wanted to go to Europe, that will have to wait until our October Art-Women-Wine Italy trip (I know..I’m a little excessive on the travel). So, in a nutshell, I was productive, I had fun, and it was a great summer…but I wasn’t as productive as I thought I’d be. Something unexpected happened, a realization that I never expected. I AM MORE PRODUCTIVE AND BETTER BALANCED AS A FREE MOTHER OF THREE…THEN WHEN I’M ALONE! Whhooooooahhhhhhhhh mammma!
This was such a shock! I remember when I got pregnant at 20yrs. old. I was only in my second year in college and I had plans to move schools and play volleyball in Oklahoma. Trimone (my-ex) and I had been dating, and I was very much in love, but talks of marriage were always in the future. Apparently, when you have sex and don’t use protection…you can get pregnant! LOL. Soooo, a little change of plans happened that Christmas and instead of going to Oklahoma, I flew back to Washington. We married that spring and moved back to Texas that summer. I kept taking classes at college, determined to finish my degree even with a baby on board.
My focus and mindset had to completely change. I thought I’d get married older…travel first, maybe land myself a small apartment in NYC and paint for a few years. I imagined my life to be very different. “Ok Elida, this was not your original plan, but no worries…have your kids young, marry the man you love, and put that art on the back burner for awhile…it just needs time to simmer, and sooner or later you’ll get to it!” Over the next thirteen years, I had two other little bambinos but also continued painting. Looking back, I was quite productive. I won a best of show and the cover of the NW Woman’s Directory, created an ornament for the White House, secured gallery representation, and started my business in teaching art to kids and women. I also managed to coach volleyball, & teach step-aerobics when Emily was a baby, bringing her to classes, and rocking her in her seat with my foot while barking orders through my mic….”take it down for 1, 2, & 3″. I had really accomplished a lot while not sacrificing my first priorities as wife and mom!
Still, I always wondered “what if I had chosen differently, would I be a more famous artist? Would I be in NYC? Where would I be with my career?” This always pops into my mind when I see my single artist friends, blowing through life without a worry in the world other then themselves and their work. I look at them and think, “They have no clue…by the time they wake up in the morning, I already ran three kids to three different schools, did my running loop, showered, and am off to teach at the studio while they are just rolling out of bed to get their first cappuccino…it must be nice!” I always imagined that if given the extra time, I’d fill it with more productivity, that I’d accomplish more with my art, career, and life! But, this summer when given that opportunity, I didn’t do anything above or beyond what I normally do when I have the kids, in fact, I filled the extra time with menial and unfulfilling things like facebook or staring at the ceiling. Seriously!
Recently, I had a serious discussion with a friend who is younger then I am. He is talented in many areas and struggling to decide…”What do I really want to do with my life?” I told him that I am in a different place…the big rocks are in place for me. I have my kids, my career, and my community where I live. The only “?” in my life is that I’m single. This is both exciting and unsettling, but it’s only one area where I have uncertainty. Like Bruno says, “Elida…we all have choices, I just have fewer choices to make!” I realized that the very thing I imagined to slow me down in life with my career (my kids, being a free mother of three) was exactly what helped me be so successful!
If I didn’t have to provide for these three little cuties (believe me…I have to work extra hard now because Caleb just ate an entire box of cereal for dinner, and Weston age 8 is already in a men’s size 7 shoes!), then I wouldn’t be as successful! The very thing I thought would hold me back has only propelled me forward! I have to be more focused, more productive, and more driven. I have to get up in the mornings, stay focused in the day and make things happen because there is no room to fail! The stakes are too high…they depend on me, and therefore, I have to make it!
What are the big rocks in your life? What things are non-negotiable? Is it your marriage? Your kids? Maybe your career? How can you look at these things differently….instead of holding you back from success with your passions…see them as helping you! My artist friend, Erin Sayer from Cult Status Gallery in Minneapolis, sent me an article on Mom’s as artists. One of the quotes was, “I feel like I’m always apologizing to my kids for my career…and to my career for my kids!” I originally agreed with this statement…but now I think differently. I say,
“Thank you kids for making me a better artist, & thank you career for making me a better mom!”
Thank God they came home…my career was suffering without them!