Reading The Sun is like a meditation for me — I go in to a place of peace within myself. Especially resonant for me are the themes of us as abandoned children (David Guy’s “What’s Eating Me” [Issue 151]), and Candace Perry’s “Mama’s Story” [Issue 152]), and us as wounded parents (Tillie Olsen’s “I Stand Here Ironing” and Kent T. Hoffman’s “Hunches on Childhood” [Issue 150]).
I just had my second baby in two years and my major issue now is how to be a good parent. My own parents continue to berate and browbeat me for being a bad daughter, which I know, somewhere deep inside, I am not. They are Holocaust survivors and are extremely difficult to deal with on an emotional level. I feel sorry for them. I wish I could help them, but I have finally realized that I can no longer do what they couldn’t do and want me to do. They have tried living vicariously through me, but we are very different.
It is very hard to be both a mother and an artist. I never thought it would happen to me, but the creative juices are flowing toward my children and away from the things that once defined me: my writing, my photography, my music. I used to get up at 4:30 a.m. and write until 6, when my husband and son get up and the house is no longer the dark, quiet shrine I love. Now the baby nurses several times during the night and at 4:30, too — so I no longer have time to write. When everybody else goes to bed, I’m usually physically tired and my brain is too fried to make sense on paper. So, what I want to know is, does the Artist as Parent ever get back to being the Artist as Artist?
It’s my big fear that I will never have the inspiration to create the way I once did. I feel like I’m a phony — not really a writer and photographer anymore, and not really a good mother either, because I resent the time my kids take away from my creative pursuits. I don’t lay this on my kids, or try not to, and of course I love them and realize that, in the long run, they will give me more than being alone and “creating” ever would.
I’m isolated. I live in a rural area and know no other artist-mothers to talk about this with. Maybe you could print this letter inviting others to write in and comment.