Motherhood and creativity

I appear to be in a bit of a rut currently and I haven’t been writing much – which is quite unusual for me! I wrote a post a few months back for one of my favourite bloggers, Lucy at Occupation: (m)other, as part of her Creative Mothers series. In lieu of writing anything new and in the hope that it reignites my creative flame I thought I’d share the post on here. PLEASE check out the rest of the series as I am in seriously good company and there are some fantastic posts from amazing creative mums! The original post can be found on Lucy’s site

I have never considered myself a creative person. My singing makes dogs howl, my dancing is enthusiastic but woefully lacking in rhythm and my drawing skills are so bad that being put on a team with me in Pictionary is seen as a punishment. I can’t sew or bake or paint or do crafts or play a musical instrument. I could carry on but I imagine you’re getting the picture. One thing I have always done, however, is write. I don’t think I ever really considered writing to be creative and until about two years ago I had never listed it as a ‘hobby or interest’ (meaning my list consisted of socialising, reading and walking. I dreaded that interview question!). To me, writing was as natural as breathing and is simply a part of my life.

As a child I loved writing stories or even just writing about things I’d been doing. I started keeping diaries and loved sending letters to people, writing long messages in birthday cards and jotting down my thoughts and feelings. I became notorious for my soppy cards and I began to write poetry. I’ve never really shared my poetry with anyone other than friends or family but a lot of my close friends and boyfriends have received poems from me as ‘gifts’. I’ve always felt that to process any ‘big’ feelings I needed to write them down. It was my therapy, my outlet and entirely necessary for my sanity!

Two notebooks on a beige coffee table - one with cartoons of blue cats doing silly things on a white background with yellow side and one purple, ethnic printed one with orangey coloured decoration
Two of the many notebooks I own!

During my pregnancy I would write poems to my unborn child or to my husband, I would reflect on the ways my body was changing and how I felt. I wrote about situations I found uncomfortable or difficult; for example I found being pregnant at a funeral something my philosophical brain couldn’t cope with and writing about it helped to order my thoughts. My family had given me a pregnancy journal which I loved filling in; I hope I can look back on it with my boy and tell him about how excited I was to meet him but how pregnancy can make you feel pretty shite!

And then, boom, my world is turned upside down when the baby boy arrives. I don’t think I wrote much in those first few weeks but I soon started writing little memories and feelings down again (usually in notes on my phone while I fed the bubba!). I then discovered the wonderful world of parent blogs! I read so many blogs during night feeds and it really made me feel less alone, it helped me to make sense of all the new situations I was faced with and, crucially, it gave me the idea to start my own blog. I had actually, once upon a time, intended to start a blog about feminism but it never quite materialised. I think the problem I had with starting a feminist blog was that occasionally there would be multiple issues I wanted to write about but other times there wouldn’t be anything at all. I worried that I would start it and then go months without writing anything. The beauty of blogging about my baby and family life is that there is always material!

Here’s a poem I wrote about how my feelings about my body and self changed during pregnancy:

Mine

40 weeks you grew in my womb
and my body didn’t feel like mine anymore
Prodded and poked
Strangers commenting on my size and shape like never before
Everything I put in my mouth I worried what you would taste
and everyone had something to say

We called you Bloblet and declined to know your gender
When the kicks started my worrying became less frequent
I was happy, though my body felt tender
when my stomach contorted like something from Alien
I knew you were healthy and happy in your cocoon

Funny how you can love somebody so intensely
before they’ve taken a first breath

And then, two days before your ETA it was me stepping up to the plate
A hospital room, exhaustion and pain
You pooed too early, they think you are in distress
My hopes of a relaxing water birth laughable
Hooked up to monitors, trapped on a bed
Crying, scared, getting into a state
My body doesn’t feel like mine, it’s out of my control

I can’t do it. I tried my best
They pull you out with what your dad calls barbecue tongs and our hearts stop
There’s a cord round your neck
but you’re screaming and they move it quickly and oh then you’re on my chest
and I love you I love you I love you
You are mine

My body is yours still as I feed you
My milk is everything you have and need
to sustain you, the responsibility is all mine
But I celebrate this. I am proud of you and myself, too.
And you, my boy, are my whole heart, happiness, love.

In blogging I have discovered new friends and found a creative outlet that I am happy to share with people. It helps me to feel as though there is more to me than just my role as a mother and wife; I’m still a person in my own right with my own interests (although is it ironic that I’m writing about being a mum?!). It was scary publishing that first blog and wondering if anybody would read it but I had such positive reactions and soon became engrossed with the blogging community. Everybody was so encouraging and friendly that it inspired me to aim a little higher and blog regularly. Most of my posts are a light hearted look on our family life and how we are coping (or not!) as new parents. I have written a few heartfelt, personal posts that made me feel as though I was baring a little bit of my soul but they were the ones which basically wrote themselves – I felt I had to publish them. I’ve always received good feedback and support; luckily I haven’t been faced with any trolls so far!

Me ( blonde 26 year old!) wearing green novelty sunglasses and smiling at the camera, TM (bald baby, 6 months old at the time) looking down wearing big blue ear defenders and a brown monkey bib, with his face right next to mine

Being a mother has made me want to create more, to feel more in tune with myself as a singular being rather than part of the family. I have had so much joy from getting involved with the blogging community and focussing on myself a little each day has (I hope) made me a better mother!

Just a reminder that this post originally appeared here. I hope you enjoyed this post. How has becoming a parent affected your creativity? Fingers crossed I will be back in the swing of blogging soon!

This Mum's Life
Tammymum

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28 thoughts on “Motherhood and creativity

  1. Ah I loved this poem and still do, it’s so beautiful. Sorry to hear you’re in a bit of a rut, I think there’s lots of us feeling similarly – it’s hard to find the energy to knuckle down to writing at the moment…can we blame that on the season change?! Xx

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  2. Oh you talented girl! And what a lovely memory for your boy when he is older – and for you of course! It’s so wonderful to have a creative outlet as a mother as so much of becoming a mother can be fed into this stream. I feel so more in tune with my emotions and my being since having my three – really a very beautiful feeling and I feel very lucky. Keep writing lovely xx

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    1. Ah thank you Helen what a gorgeous comment! That is a beautiful feeling and I know what you mean. I think in many ways motherhood can bring out the best in us, it definitely shows us what we are capable of. Thanks for reading my lovely. Ellen xx

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  3. What a gorgeous poem, that will be something quite amazing to look at again and again as your little boy gets older-it really does capture something special. I had never thought of writing as being ‘creative’ either. I had always quite enjoyed English language and literature at school, but had not considered writing after that time. I think it’s totally normal and natural to get into a rut with writing, and anything creative! I have felt the same on many, many occasions! It’s great that you enjoy being part of the community in blogging so much too, as there’s always someone who will give advice, or make you feel better when you go through times when you’re feeling a little less inspired than normal. I felt that my creativity stopped as soon as I had my first child. I used to do competitive dancing, and danced in the National Youth Ballet as a teenager, and as an adult, I still danced, and loved the theatre, watching live comedy etc. My whole life seemed to be about creativity, and it all stopped-I gave up all dancing, rarely went out due to feeding/tiredness etc, and I lived in a rut for a really long time. Writing my blog became the only way I could express how I was feeling at the time (depressed and lost mainly,) and it totally lifted me by providing the place to be creative that I needed. I’ts been a real life saver for me!
    #bigpinklink

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    1. Thank you for sharing such a thoughtful and insightful comment, Lucy! I can completely see how dancing and being a new mum aren’t really compatible, and how it must have been so difficult for you to feel your identity and lifestyle change so dramatically. I am glad you’ve found blogging to be so cathartic – I’m glad you started it as you’re so wonderful at it!! Thanks for reading, Ellen x

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  4. Yes what a beautiful poem. I really regret not writing more memories down with both little ones. It wasn’t until I had my third that I even started writing again. It has helped me so much with postpartum depression. I love reading others blogs as much as I love writing. Keep up the good work mama!

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  5. I love that you shared this poem! It’s great to have writing as an outlet when you need to work through what you’re feeling, and poetry is great for that – as is blogging! I often don’t know what I’m going to write until I actually sit down at my laptop and it all comes out. Plus the blogging community is such a supportive group. #FamilyFun

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  6. I remember reading this on Lucy’s series and loved it as much then as I do now. Your poem made my eyes fuzzy. I love your writing Ellen and always look for posts to read, I hope you come out of rut soon, I miss you! Thanks so much for linking with us at #familyfun, hope to see you next week xx

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  7. I love this. Such a beautiful poem. My main interest pre-baby was playing the piano which I pretty much haven’t done at all since he’s been born. Sometimes it makes me feel really sad, that I’ve essentially given up on my one creative outlet, but then that’s probably why I’ve turned to blogging. Plus it’s a lot quieter during nap times! #familyfun

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    1. Thank you! Sorry it’s probably confusing I posted this in September I just fancied linking it up again this week haha. So I seem to be doing a bit better on the writing front but finding time to actually post on the blog is trickier!! Thanks for your kind words and for reading, Ellen

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