The Artist Mom’s Summer Adventure

Remember when I said the summer insanity was nearly upon us? Well—it’s here! And I have been fighting a ton of anxiety, mom-guilt, and a lot of pressure to 1) get my business better organized and continue the expansion and 2) prepare everything and everyone for our newest addition that will arrive in August.

This past weekend, I tried to explain all these nerves and anxieties to my ever-patient partner. He totally understood; he reminded me that he’s here to take care of the kids, juggle the family taxi and let me have time to work, self-care, and all the other things. By Monday evening, after similar reminders from my dad, who is a wonderful grandparent-support just up the street, I felt a whole lot better about everything. So much better, in fact, I planned to commit and attend the weekly early-morning business networking group that could prove invaluable to my work as a freelance writer. I scheduled out blocks of work-time, and strategized about the dreaded Tuesday when my younger two kiddos have lots of appointments and no daycare. I felt pretty good about the newfound structure and was optimistically secure in my support system.

On Wednesday, my partner has the kids up and out the door well before 8 a.m. because my early meeting begins at 7.45 and their daycare is on his way to work. My eldest, still sleeping and self-sufficient, was enjoying the first real opportunity to sleep in on her summer break on this particular morning. I felt confident about this day—after all, I even called ahead at 6.30 a.m. to the daycare to ensure my four-year-old had the three tee shirts I’d ordered all ready to go for her summer camp uniform. I packed her backpack with a labeled water bottle and sunscreen, her favorite stuffed bunny, and we talked about her class trip to Build A Bear for the day.

I’m the first to admit I’m a hot mess mom, but this day felt pretty okay. I got everyone out the door with kisses, hugs, and neatly tied ponytails (except Ben, he can take care of his own hair). Less than an hour later, though, about 10 minutes prior to my meeting’s scheduled beginning, I got a rather stern phone call from her school.

“You will have to come get P,” the employee said. “She has a field trip today and she is totally unprepared, and it would be unacceptable for her to attend the field trip today.”

“Hmmm, okay, I’m sorry what is she missing.”

“She doesn’t have a shirt—”

“I called at 6.30 a.m. to ask if the 3 shirts we ordered several weeks ago were available, and I was told the shirts are there—we hadn’t been given them to take home in the weeks since I placed the order.”

“She doesn’t have sunscreen, a backpack, or a water bottle—”

“I labeled her sunscreen and water bottle and put them in her backpack—which should also have her name on it. I am really sorry, what else does she need today?”

“A hat, she doesn’t have a hat. You have about two hours to get a hat to her or she absolutely can’t go.”

Of course, I skipped my meeting—because either way I was going to have to miss the meeting, and at least if I ducked out and brought the hat to her, I could still get writing and illustration work accomplished. But I admit, I was fuming. All this worry about juggling kids and childcare, and wondering if a thousand dollars per child–per month– could be justified for childcare costs… in that moment, as I forfeited a profitable and important business opportunity so I could get my kid’s hat to her, the thousand dollars did not seem like a well-spent investment.

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My family. We are usually going lots of different ways. Photo by Jackie & Ryan Photography, Colorado Springs!!

 

I can’t imagine too many parents would want to be called out of a meeting and lose opportunities over a hat. Sure, it is one incident, and normally if the kids have an appointment or need me, I’m there and can be there quickly because being self-employed is typically one of the most flexible jobs ever. Had my daughter been actually totally unprepared, even, I could see the school’s point and would feel less annoyed and flustered by being asked to cancel my work and deliver a hat.

It did help me re-evaluate what I’m doing and where I am with my kids this summer. My heart is with them. Often, my days are spent coordinating and shuttling to and from appointments for one of the three, and so my work suffers despite 2/3 of our children being stuck in a classroom. The evening is dedicated to them, and after they sleep I’m too busy cleaning and preparing for the next day to do much work. And weekends, too, seem the worst place for work, because they’ve been in school and daycare all week and now I want to spend time with my family.

Yesterday, though, that “dreaded” day of appointments? We survived it, and we thrived it. Work-life balance is hard to come by, but yesterday seemed great for the most part. We accomplished all our appointments and squeezed in a special milkshake treat and a trip to the park. We got home just as some rain set in, and everyone watched a movie with popcorn while I retreated to my studio to work on painting and a few small business details. It was, in all aspects, more productive than most days—AND I spent more quality time with my kids than usual, too. In fact, I didn’t want today to start so rushed and send everyone off to summer camps and pre-school. I knew my 4-year-old was pretty excited for Build A Bear, and that I had plenty of work to get to– but also I wondered what kind of adventures would I have if we didn’t have to commit to the scheduled grind.

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Accomplished while the kids survived popcorn and a movie in a separate room.

When the morning rolled out as it did, I felt all sorts of things bubble up. The feminist in me started ranting about mom-shaming; after all, just that morning as Ben asked me about new classrooms and where to bring her summer camp backpack, and he joked it was good to be a man, because everyone is helpful and no one thinks anything of it when you don’t know what’s going on at your kids’ school.

The mom in me felt guilty.

The self-employed freelancer felt stressed and worried about work missed.

I decided this is, perhaps, the last summer we have before my eldest is “too cool” to be part of the adventure. It is our last summer before my second-born starts school. It is a summer of a lot of change, and I couldn’t imagine three people I would rather spend it with than my kids.

Will it be easy? No. But it wasn’t easy before, either.

 

We start the adventure July 1st, stay tuned!

 

Happy summer,

 

Angi

 

 

 

 

 

Moonphase in Holiday Mode

Priorities around the holidays feel like a game of Jenga—one wrong move and my whole tower of time management and work-life-balance threatens to topple. I have a feeling I am not the only one feeling the holiday crunch.

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For me, my creative process is part of my self-care, and I find myself wanting to escape to the studio to find my inner-peace and let my creative energies heal and generate happy. It’s always my hope that my pieces will inspire a sense of happy and calm for others, too, which has been an integral part of my philosophy as I solidify my style and approach to art sales.

There was a time when I worried that what I like to paint and draw wasn’t “edgy” enough or didn’t make some kind of “big statement.” The older I get, the more I don’t care, and the more I want to embrace my inner-child and simply paint my way to happiness and content.

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As I build my illustration portfolio and work for an output of art pieces that are aesthetically pleasing, I find the questions I ask myself are less, “will people buy this?” and more like, “does this make me happy?” or “does this do something to inspire someone?”

There is a lot of thought that goes into any piece, but now it’s more about making a statement of happy rather than a statement of an artist’s assertion. The more I let go and let it be, the happier I am—and the more my painting and art skills grow.

I’m applying the same approach around the house and with my kids. I’m letting simplicity rule the roost. With every exclamation of, “I want THAT,” when they see the new toys and fancy marketing gimmicks aimed to make them want more, I breathe in my peace and remind them of what beauty lies all around us.

Wanting more is what we are trained to do, and that isn’t always bad. It’s something I’ve wrestled with as I build my art sales, even; how can I expect people to buy my art when I myself avoid frivolous purchases that ultimately create clutter rather than a peaceful space?

My conclusion is more is fine if it is adding to our happy. I make mindful purchases, just like I make mindful art. I paint what I believe in, and I purchase what I believe in. My kids won’t be getting lots of cheap plastic toys, just like I won’t be filling my cart with cute but cheaply made ornaments and knick knacks. Instead, I’m filling our home with quality toys, quality pieces of art and décor that inspire the core of my heart-and-home attitude.

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It’s all about simplifying life and focusing on the art of being content—in life and in studio practice—and so far it is working!