I read a variety of women artist’s blogs and occasionally an artist mentions other people’s perceptions of what she does, or about rejection (boo) or acceptance (hurrah). It is nice to read that each of us, no matter how talented, is human.
I work only a few hours a week and I do send my daughter to daycare about four days a week – I pick her up in the afternoon. During the hours that my husband is at work and my daughter is at daycare and I am not working, I do housework, I go grocery shopping, I run errands, I cook, and now I make art (or is it craft? – that discussion is for another day).
Whatever you say I am, I am not Peg Bundy.
Unfortunately, I am often perceived to be similar to Peg, with her bon-bons, television and lazy ways. And as much as I want to reach down and connect with my angry youth inside, my rebel without a cause, and say, “I don’t care what you think, man,” I can’t. Besides, I was lying as an angry youth and I would be lying now.
I do care what you think.
Once people learn that my daughter goes to daycare even when I am not at work, they want to know why I don’t keep my daughter home, what I do with my time or how I could be so selfish. I then foolishly try to explain. I start by saying my daughter is thriving in daycare – I don’t know anyone with babies here in NYC and she really interacts with other kids and learns at her daycare. They have a gymnasium and they have music time with live music and they have arts and crafts and storytime and other children in the same age group.
Then I explain I do keep her home a lot.
Then, and only then, do I mention art. I say something really lame like, “I’m getting back into my art.” Wow – that’ll teach ’em! She’s 30 and playing with glitter glue! The response is either “Uh-huh,” or “Really, can I see something?”
Response one (dismissal), makes me feel pathetic and like the girl who gave up all creative pursuits in the first place because she feared rejection and failure.
Response two (interest), makes me nervous and shy and eventually leads to the same reaction as response one.
Sometimes I am amazed at how pathetic I can be.
My days are full and I am happier than I have ever been. I spend time each day getting my creative engine going, teaching myself techniques, exploring new territory, and trying to get over all my silly fears. I need this. It makes me a better mom. How do I tell people that succinctly? How do I tell people to mind their own business? People always comment on how relaxed my daughter is, what a good sleeper she is, how engaged she seems. Could it be that my husband and I are doing what is right for our family? For ourselves?
I am sorry I am not a cubicle dweller or a full-time stay at home mom. I am a part-time worker, a part-time stay at home mom, a part-time art and craft explorer, a part-time blogger and a part-time consumer of really crappy reality tv. The list only goes on. So I, like everyone else, do not lead a simple life and I make the best choices for me and for my family.
Now if only I could get big enough cajones to tell people to bug off… One day at a time I guess…