Some of the biggest challenges for women once they have a family is maintaining their own sense of self-worth; valuing the things that they themselves are good at doing, that give them great joy and stimulation; and recognising that these things which may be located ‘outside’ of the family and ‘normal’ ways of earning a living are no less valuable or worthwhile than other jobs that working mothers undertake. When women recognise, acknowledge and value themselves and their talents, and put them to good use, they can and do find ways to let go the struggle and ‘guilt’ and discover ways to balance their lives so that the needs of the family and themselves personally are met. And yes, it can be somewhat of a juggling act at first which will balance out as they discover their way of making things work for themselves and their families.
Unfortunately, in the latter 3 decades of last century, as more women stayed in the workforce after having children, and in their desire to succeed in whatever their chosen career paths were [including going up against the ‘glass ceiling’ of the male-dominated corporate world], there were many inner and outer struggles placed upon women to be ‘superwoman’ able to handle everything and anything, and simultaneously ‘expected’ to place their family duties above their own personal aspirations. This led to a lot of guilt and stress, and some very unreal expectations inside family structures and relationships, and for many women, the ‘guilt trip’ of not being there for their families, of not being ‘selfless’ and putting their children and partner/husband first.
After much anguish expressed within women’s professional networks and/or support groups, families, and via the media in the re-shaping of cultural values, things began to change in more positive ways for women by the 21st Century and these days, many women are discovering that they can have family and career and that they can experience satisfaction and meaning in both spheres of their lives. That in fact, fulfilment in one area can and does flow into the other creating a greater sense of satisfaction and inner peace.
In Anna’s context, she has ‘always loved to paint and draw’ and I would suggest that this love, passion and talent that she has for creativity via her art rather than being something that takes her away from her family, can, with some clever management, be great source of inner and outer joy that enhances her family and their relationships with each other. When we have our needs met inwardly and outwardly we feel fulfilled and find less conflict and more satisfaction in the various spheres of our lives.
As an artist and intelligent, creative woman myself, I quickly found upon having children that I needed to have the time and ability to creatively and intellectually express myself. That when I gave myself ‘permission’ and the space to do this, that my family life and my relationship with my children became stronger. I realised later on that I was also setting for them the scenario that it was ok for women to have family and career, and that they would develop their own ideas and ways of doing this too, that would work for them. And this was true for many women in my era.
For Anna, what I am seeing is that she has allowed herself to be somewhat influenced by the expectations of those around who have led her to believe that she must put her family first, that a ‘good mother’ is a stay-at-home mother – which actually isn’t the norm in many cultures where women continue to carry on their roles as workers in conjunction with their being mothers & wives.
My sense is that in her own childhood - culturally – that this was certainly considered ‘normal’ and so she has an underlying pattern of self-sabotage and guilt stemming from expectations which are not congruent with her own inner longings and knowing. Anna, what I am guided to say to you is that you can and will do very well at both mothering, and as an artist and business woman. It’s a matter of getting organised in ways which suit you and your lifestyle, and which enable you to use your creativity in an organisational sense, as well as through your artistic endeavours.
If you can create for yourself a visionboard or treasure map, you will be able to map out what your needs, desires and aspirations are, in conjunction with the practicalities of being a wife and mother. This way, you will have both the visually graphic and the ‘dot point’ clarification of what needs to be done plus an overview of your dreams on everything from home, relationships, time, personal goals and ambitions, family dreams and desires to holidays and business development skills learning. Once you have this ‘treasure map’, you can then get down to specifics - the how’s, why’s, and where’s of making sense of it all and how to get practical and real.
I would like to suggest that this includes allocating time for yourself which is considered your work time and that you have a room, shed / studio set up where when you are in that space, you dedicate yourself to the pursuit of your art, craft and the nitty gritty of business. This space is acknowledge and recognised your partner, you and your children as ‘your’ space and working environment where, with the exception of emergencies, you are left to get on with your art and the maintenance of your business.
Within the framework of the family, you and your partner work out the amount of time that you both feel is fair reasonable and equitable for both of you to commit to each other as a couple, and together as parents. Once you sit down and work through this in a mutually beneficial way, then things will flow. If you’re so inclined Anna, you could determine who drops and picks up the children for school, sport and so forth. Whoever prefers to cook does dinner whilst the other bathes children and supervises homework or play and so forth.
It’s imperative to remember that your family unit is unique to you and yours so develop a model that is flexible, able to be re-negotiated when needs or situations arise, and that there is open honest communication between yourself and your partner. Once you get clear Anna, then things will ease up within you .. and as you share with your husband your desire to contribute ot the family income via your creative skills, then a space will open for you and he to make this work in ways where neither he nor your children miss out.
If you think about it, those families where one or both parents do shift work or work away from home have more likelihood of disruption unless they devise good ways of making it work for them than you will as an artist. For instance, I found for myself that my creative time and/or academic study time came after my children went to bed because then I had the freedom to do whatever without feeling like my children were missing out, or that I was being stifled. This led to a happier household for the most part.
Anna I encourage you to get your mandalas happening .. this gives you peace and others joy and will become a great source of outlet for you and a welcome boost to the income for your family. I feel that once you start experiencing success you will be pleasantly surprised at the support you receive from family and friends as your client base grows. Given the fun that m any adults are experiencing with the recent craze over colouring books and associated groups and classes as a means to de-stress, just thing what good your mandalas can do. Have fun, enjoy yourself and your family will most definitely feel and flourish in that atmosphere.
Blessings Lynn Solang Smith, BCA, Grad Dip Ed, Dip Body Psychotherapy, Cert Holistic Counsellor, Munay-ki Rites Teacher.
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