Prioritising Creativity- why is it so hard?

Every child is an artist. The problem is staying an artist when you grow up.

-Pablo Picasso
Photo by Markus Spiske on

Go to any mothers group get together (and maybe fathers groups too, but I wouldn’t know) and much of the conversation revolves around our little ones and their latest achievements and blossoming talents. We can’t help it. We’re parents. We’re obsessed- especially with our first-born. Little Johnny has a new found fascination with building blocks, look at his tower! He also loves dressing up like mummy, so funny, ha ha ha nothing wrong with that! Little Talulah has a real flair for the dramatic, did you see her? The supermarket is one giant runway for her, she struts down the aisle, twirling and dancing, it’s so adorable. Little Mary has done this amazing blob painting, doesn’t it look great? She did that with her feet too! So creative….

We celebrate creativity in our kids. We honour it. We nurture it. We share it with others with great pride. Others may not recognise it the way we do but stuff ’em, they don’t know them like we do. I’m certainly in that category of recognising and celebrating the creative in my children. Miss A (6) is a born performer … much like myself. (Is parenting not one massive ego trip? Reproducing our genetic material and taking credit for all their gifts and blaming the world for their shortcomings, if indeed they have any?!) When I was little I told my parents that when I grew up I wanted to be a hairdresser. Or a star. Naturally.

More specifically, Miss A is incredibly theatrical, loves singing, dancing, acting, drawing, fashioning new outfits out of the old, so much so that we bought her a sewing machine for her last birthday. Fashion designer in the making. She told me thinks she wants to be on television. Fine by me, as long as all her clothes stay on! Perhaps clothes she’s designed? We’ll see…

Miss M (8) is also dramatic, but much more serious and perhaps too thin skinned to make it in the performing arts- also much like me. I’m a good singer who could have been great with more training and guts- guts to fail. But as we all know, fear of failure is the enemy of creativity. So that did not work for me. Miss M is a naturally talented singer, writer and artist. She drew a picture of a giraffe in prep that I would not be able to produce at any age. Respect to all the artists out there, it’s like magic what you do.

I desperately want to support both their talents by encouraging their creativity, praising their endeavour regardless of the finished product (it’s the creative process that counts right?) and, very importantly, ensuring they grow up confident, self assured and proud of their gifts to share them with the world.

So why do we struggle as adults to prioritise creativity? I know the weight of responsibility of being a grown up can be heavy and we focus more on bills, making money, providing, keeping up with the Joneses, the woes of the world… but the contrast with our own childhoods and the way we see our own kids is jarring. Not only do we shun creativity in our list of priorities, we fail to recognise it as important, valuable, and certainly, we don’t celebrate it. Sure we ooh and aah at other adults’ creative endeavours… but our own?

For me, it should be easy. I have a husband who celebrates my writing and encourages me to continue. I love doing it. I have time. Yet I feel bad about doing it, especially if the family is home at the time. It really is a very solitary act, taking you away from everyone else. I feel like I’m abandoning my post as part of this family. So, to remedy this, right at this moment, I am nestled on the couch between Miss M and hubby who has just woken up and joined us, and Miss A is stretched out across the coffee table like a cat in the sun, watching Miraculous on a Saturday morning. It’s actually quite lovely.

But not sustainable. Any other writers or creatives suffer with this weird guilt? How do you manage this? How do you find a balance, what self talk do you do to get you through the barriers and get to it? I really welcome comments and discussion on this blog. Thanks for reading, friends!

Photo by Min An on

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