This week Shannon Loucks is joining me in this space. Shannon's writing is like a breath of fresh air. Shannon shares her journey of motherhood and parenting in an honest and inspiring way that gives her readers a fresh perspective, always. I'm honored to have her share her wisdom, her thoughts, and her advice for creatives in the midst of homeschooling - and parenting in general.
Becoming a mother and staying home with my boys full time actually led my creative fire to burn on a deeper more intimate level. Looking at motherhood as fuel for my creative process has opened me to new ideas I otherwise would not have had the courage or drive to explore.
I started writing about my journey with the boys early on. Mostly as a reminder to myself of the sort of mom I wanted to be and what my intention was on the days when things were all upside down and frustrating. I wanted to hold myself accountable. And to have the words ready for someone else looking for support that was centered around peace and connection. I have always been a storyteller so it made sense to use stories about the boys to illustrated how I am challenged as a parent to dig deeper into my intention and let go of patterned, automatic responses.
In the early years I don’t think the boys knew I was writing about them. I have always been cautious not to use their names, as I know some folks in our community read what I have to say. Now that they are reaching toward the teen years, I do run things past them to make sure they are comfortable with the stories being out in the world. Because it is more about me and my mistakes and lessons then it ever is about them, I almost always get permission.
Creativity shows up naturally when living alongside young children. We paint, we sing, we dance, we tell stories to one another and we dress up as our most favorite characters to engage in hours upon hours of imaginary play. For years this was the magic that fed my own creative self.
Other times, creativity found it’s way to me. My youngest has a most busy mind and experienced deep loss early on in his life. Falling asleep was a challenge for him as his mind would spin around what was missing and sadness would start to move in. As a result of his desire to merge this all into a place that made sense I told him a brand new story every single night. And because I knew there would be nights that I would not be able to recall those tales or keep going, I recorded each of them. In a relatively short time I had spun hours of tales about a tree elf his adventures and talking pets that plotted to help one another out of tough situations. I hadn't planned for last thing at night to be my most creative out pouring. But there it was all wrapped up in connection with my child for me to explore as far as I wanted to.
It is so worth mentioning that my children themselves have given me hours of inspiration that will keep me company long after they have moved on. Their imaginations have always far out weighed mine. The little ways they said words, the mistaken understandings they had about how things work in the world are story starters time and time again. This is when a little notebook, or computer file are great for capturing information for later retrieval. Oh and voice memo, photos and videos. Protecting childhoods is basically opening a bank account in which you can deposit millions worth of inspiration for use in retirement.
Things that freed me from the idea of balance needing to happen every single day and shifted me to see it through the over a lifetime sense, were letting the dishes pile up and lowering my own expectations while believing with every sense of who I am that there is time. The dishes could always wait for a toddler ready to dance to that song for the tenth time and for the words that threatened to escape if they weren't nailed down to a piece of paper. Lowering the expectations I had for myself allowed me a freedom to just be present with my children, to see the magic of the world with them, depositing endlessly into that creative bank account I mentioned above. Trusting, that there was time is a hard lesson for a gal who’s dad died earlier then your average well lived life. But it’s true. There is enough time.
Meeting my children’s needs with immediacy and consistency built a foundation of trust on which they could grow and mature. They knew their needs would be met and this helped them, with time and age, to build the skills to meet their own needs. Their tanks were often filled to overflowing which meant waiting while I just finish this up was something they could do. It also helped them to understand, again with time and patience, that each member of the family has their own needs. Which made it possible now and again for me to request time to complete a piece of art, or writing that called at my heart strings. In fact, lately those projects have pulled my now older boys in to creating alongside me, and that’s a magic I will likely write about more than once.
To sum it all up I dare say no one looks back upon these years of raising children and wishes they’d spent less time playing with these precious human beings. Finding my creative self engaged in a connected, peaceful relationship with these two amazing human beings is my life’s work.
Shannon - I can't thank you enough for sharing your words here today. As always, I am left feeling like a balm has just been administered to all of my worries about finding time. You are so right, there is always time. Thank you, my friend!
Links for Shannon:
If you or someone you know, are a homeschooling parent who is in the midst of creative pursuits and would like to contribute to this series, please contact me at crnnoel(at)gmail(dot)com.