Parenting vs Creativity: Can Motherhood Lead To A Fulfilling Creative Life?

By Kristine Walker, Parent Herald April 18, 08:55 am

Parenthood can be rewarding and challenging at the same time. But in this new era where both parents are usually working, parenthood seems to be conflicting with creativity in the abstract and in actual life.

According to Kim Brooks, creative and inspired people such as writers and artists are no strangers over the preconceived notion stereotyping them as bad spouses and parents. Brooks also noted the idea about creative people being unsuited for family life goes back to the era of French aristocrat Marquis de Sade.

Due to the misogynistic idealism in the past, several notable female writers like Virginia Woolf had completely ditched the idea of motherhood. But Brooks, the writer who wrote an essay about parenthood and creativity on New York Magazine, was confident that creativity can seamlessly coalesce with parenthood. She was wrong, though.

Brooks used to dream of art, writing or any creative work. But now, she's exhausted, frustrated and depressed just like the female protagonist in Laura Miller's "Ladies of Leisure: The Resurgence of the Housewife Novel," which highlighted the inner conflict between creativity, domestic responsibilities and parenting culture.

Moreover, Brooks stressed parenthood unexpectedly changes one's relationship to the world. She admitted of doing things no self-respecting writer or artist would ever do to become a better parent.

"Before I had children, I believed strongly in the nobility of suffering," she wrote. "All interesting, worthwhile humans suffered and struggled and overcame adversity of one sort or another. Pain is constructive. Misery can be useful. Then I had children, and I slowly began to disbelieve and disavow it."

Many frustrated writer-artist-mothers were channeling their creative energy into parenthood now, putting their creative work aside in lieu of their children's lives. But why is creativity appears to be in conflict with parenting?

As per Brooks, people make art for exactly the contrasting reason they make families. Brooks also quoted her friend saying, "The point of art is to unsettle, to question, to disturb what is comfortable and safe. And that shouldn't be anyone's goal as a parent."

The statement of Brooks' friend also echoed Deborah Eisenberg, Oscar Wilde and Hippocrates' thoughts that art or creativity is a "revolt." It is the most intense approach of individualism in the world.

"Art, itself is inherently subversive," Eisenberg said. "It's destabilizing. It undermines, rather than reinforces."

Despite the fact that parenthood creates obstacles to creative work, Elissa Strauss of Slate said that having children can bring something good in developing creativity. Though parenthood and creative work are not gentle experiences, trying to do both at once can be fruitful.

"When it comes to nurturing creativity and psychological insights-two good tools for culture-makers-having children can a very good thing," Strauss wrote.

In spite of the challenges and failures those who try to combine parenting and creative work face, there will also be rewards and victories. Author Maggie Nelson told Jezebel last year that motherhood might be a cliché but it's exciting.

So, do you think parenthood can lead to a fulfilling creative life? Sound off below and follow Parent Herald for more news and updates.

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