I am excited to introduce my friend Amanda Brinkley who is an incredible artist and the mother of a spunky, adorable toddler. Amanda is one of the reasons I started this blog, as we’ve talked a lot about the challenges of creating while raising a kid.
Somewhere in me, there is this familiar daydream…
A beautiful image of sun speckling the grass through the leafy boughs of fall trees. Light bouncing off a wide front porch sheltering big windows that are thrown open to the world outside. Next to it a figure in white kneeling in a garden full of sparkling, organic produce. Children run by chasing chickens against the idyllic backdrop of a studio, framed by mountainous views.
It’s a daydream of the perfect life in my perfect house with my perfect art and my perfect, healthy kids.
But the reality is, this amazing daydream is scattered in a thousand pieces on the messy floor I haven’t swept in a week.
Why? Because I never wear white and because I live in reality. The reality of a work-from-home Mom.
All moms work. Those of us either insane enough or lucky enough to hold down another job on top of that, know that the challenges can be overwhelming and the frustration as potent as the joy.
In case you wondered work-from-home Mom actually translates to: crazy-lady-in-her pajamas-at-noon-who-started-working-at 6am-to-get-an-hour-of-quiet-work done-which-turned into a pipe dream when her-toddler-woke-up-at-6:05-anyway-(HOW DO THEY DO THAT)-all-because-she’d-like-her-8-hour workday-not-to-turn-into-12-and-if-she’s-really-lucky-a-shower-might-actually-happen!
The truth is my day usually involves too much coffee, too much pizza, not enough veggies, too many cartoons, too much yelling, and an unhealthy amount of brain space spent questioning if I am ruining my child.
All the while an internal battle wages over who should get to ignore her: me or a day-care worker.
I replay all the articles I’ve read talking about how important early development is and wondering if I’m failing at it. All this while I wonder if I’m really that busy. Or am I just not trying hard enough?
There are days I would give anything to just be a Mom.
I’d settle for being an artist too.
Most of the time, “art” for me now means using a magic eraser on the wall because my child spent a year watching me paint a mural and doesn’t get why our walls are different. Or arranging blocks in colorful patterns when what I really want to do is sketch, in a world where actually carving out 10 minutes to pick up a pencil is the Everest of victories.
I remind myself “You’re doing my best,” and, “You’re lucky to work from home,” but the honest part of me has to tell you this:
Sometimes I feel like it isn’t worth it and I wonder if it’s the right thing to do.
The guilt might just be in my head or maybe it’s my Pinterest board glaring at me with visions of all the things I don’t have time to do, but either way, I have to ask myself, why do I do this?
I know that sounds like complaining and self-doubt, please understand it’s not. Because I love that I can do what I do.
I love that God gave me the opportunity to have this time and in spite of the challenges, I am constantly discovering new value in the lessons it has taught me.
I do it because we have bills to pay.
I do it for the funny stories, like the time she smeared poop all over her crib because Mom was meeting a deadline.
I do it for the drawings Madeleine makes when she’s “working.”
I do it for the hours spent with a toddler standing on the back of my chair alternately hugging me and making my hair “pretty.”
I do it because there is real joy in painting with your child, covered from head to toe in red paint, totally enthralled with what she can do.
I do it for the slow days when we make it to the park, the flexibility that means I can drop everything for 5 minutes of dancing through the house.
I do it because I am better than someone else, even when I’m glued to a computer.
Ultimately I do it because imperfection keeps us moving forward and because in my heart I will do anything just to get to be here, every day, with this gorgeous little person that God gave me to care for.
I am comforted with the thought God knew what He was doing when He set me here. And he asks me to try harder, grow bigger, work longer and prioritize better.
And somewhere down the line, maybe tomorrow, maybe 10 years from now I will actually figure out how to have a balanced day.
I will be able to grasp the rhythm under it all and play a better tune.
In the meantime what is there to do but embrace the chaos and pick up a paint brush.
Amanda Brinkley is a talented graphic designer artist, wife and mother. She grew up in Alaska and her family made the big move back to Texas, her birth state, two years ago.
Contact Amanda at: firstname.lastname@example.org