Saturday, 19 November 2011

Poets and Writers/Being a mum

It's beyond my worst nightmare that one of my children should become seriously ill. Which makes an essay I just read in the current issue of Poets and Writers magazine all the more moving and inspirational. Like many creative mums, Lisa Jennifer Selzman planned to write during the day once her kids had both started at school - and she did. But when her daughter Steffie became seriously ill, Lisa's writing ground to a halt.

"I stopped writing because I didn't see the point," writes Lisa.

"How could I possibly spend hours fiddling with the destinies of a set of made-up people when my daughter was suffering in a way no ten-year-old should ever have to endure?"

Lisa entered a world without magic, without poetry, without art. It's an extreme version of a state, I think, that many of us mums have to traverse at some point, particularly when the demands of young children seem to squeeze all time and energy for creativity into non-existence. Certainly I recognise it anyway.

Yet slowly, Lisa became inspired to write again - partly because she saw how Steffie loved to create - despite her illness: "Sketching, molding clay, using watercolours allowed her to express herself, to make gifts for others, to feel productive, to be herself. Art gave her joy, and most of all, it normalized her. She maintained her belief in the perfection and promise of a brand-new crayon as if it were a birthday candle about to impart a wish. How then, in the presence of her innocent and sturdy persistence, could I abandon my own art and wallow?"

I love that what helped Lisa back into making art was seeing her own daughter doing the same. I also love that there was a touch of parental vanity in her motivation too: Lisa says Steffie got a kick out of being able to say that her mum was a writer, which made Lisa feel she had to live up to that. We all want to make our kids proud, don't we?

No comments:

Post a Comment