In this house, creativity is a virtue.
On most days, creativity wins over the messes mommy has to clean up. It wins over the thought of spilled paint and extra baths. It wins over the semi-annoyance that my notepads become important secret journals, that the stickers from my planner become integral parts of mixed-media artwork (in partnership with the colorful pens and washi tape I keep on my desk, of course), and that my highlighters always go missing.
When things get really busy, I go all-business. I make to-do lists (without even using the pretty pens my daughter steals), I plan out my time like the world depends on me sticking to a schedule. Which it kind of does and…I don’t work well that way.
If, for too many days on end, I haven’t let my mind wander, haven’t done something creative, haven’t just let out that trapped free-spirited energy inside of me, I start to feel stuck. I look at a box and feel too uninspired to see the boat.
And I don’t like that one bit.
My early-morning writing isn’t work related. I let flow whatever comes out (and I’ve found that, in the early morning, something always comes out. If I wait until the kids go to bed—forget about it).
My monthly creative projects have two requirements: they must be totally unrelated to work and there can’t be an associated goal. No desired outcome. Whatever I create doesn’t need to be made with the intention of hanging on a wall, given as a gift or even shown to anyone else, ever. Creativity is the sole purpose.
After all, if I let my daughter do the same thing every day, if I’m willing to hand my 18-month-old son a set of markers (and we all know how disastrous that can be), why wouldn’t I do the same for myself?
If, in this house, creativity is an unspoken virtue, if it is a worthy pursuit, never a waste of time, always a more meaningful practice than it seems, then I need to pursue it with the faith and abandon I wish for my kids.
Pre-kids, I was always doing something creative and crafty. From art projects to house projects, creativity reigned. If I could DIY something, I went for it. If I saw a Pinterest craft that intrigued me, I tried it.
Now that time is a coveted commodity in ways it never was before, creativity has lost out to other things: Laundry. Cooking. Cleaning. Precious, precious sleep.
But I see the importance of creativity reflected in my children, especially my four-year-old daughter. She knows that mommy writes, for work and for fun. She knows that daddy writes songs and sings them. She’ll grab a pen and a notebook any chance she gets, to make lists, to “just write.” She makes up her own songs, silly ones that make us laugh and sweet ones used to lull her brother to sleep at night. She sings along to my husband’s album and I remind her that her daddy wrote these songs, that it’s his voice singing them.
I tell her the most magical of stories: that he wanted to write and sing, so he did. That’s it. No training, no overthinking, no pros-and-cons-list-making. No hiding. He just went for it.
I tell her that mommy writes for work, and that I write other things, too. Things that I feel the urge to write. And that, sometimes, I feel brave enough to send them out into the world and other people read what I wrote, and it makes me feel good.
That’s what I want for my kids, and it’s what I want for me, too. I want all of our creativity to thrive. I want it to feel like a gift, maybe one that the world would be better for experiencing. I also want creativity to feel like a “just because,” to be the thing tucked into a drawer like secret, but never a mistake.
If I want my children to embrace creativity throughout their entire lives, then it starts with me embracing their creative exploration and mine.
What happens when I mix red and blue?
What if I wrote about that feeling?
What would this look like with stickers all over it?
When can I make time to make art?
The answers: Purple. Freeing. Beautiful. Today.
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