jillypoet: mom trying to write

Each day I wish I had invented waterproof sticky notes (for shower inspiration) or pen-friendly diapers to get down all my quirky thoughts that I am sure are relevant and publishable. And so God (actually another writer-mommy) sent me The Blog.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A little rant from a part-time stay-at-home

“You’re just a laid back artist.” If this was all he had said as we pulled into Borders, I wouldn’t have called off our trip to a bookstore—my passion.

“You’re not motivated. You’re just a laid back artist.” This is exactly what he said, and if I didn’t love books and the idea of two hours out without the children so much, I would have called off the date. Called off the whole thing, date, bookstore, marriage, all of it.

We were talking about my business, my little children’s art studio and gallery. The business I started from the ground up. The business that I run by myself, that helps put food on our table and keeps my hair looking good (good hairdressers are expensive, you know). It’s not a huge money maker and sure, there’s a lot I could do to make it so, but, hey, I never wanted to be a working mom. A “stay-at-home,” as my friend’s 8-year-old daughter put it, is what I always planned on being. It’s not my fault I married for love not money. Well, yes it is.

But being compared, and not favorably, mind you, to my friend who sells an unnamed line of women’s cosmetics, my friend who drives a succession of pastel colored power cars, is where I draw the line. Her children are both in school. Her husband is really good with the children, really good. She could stay-at-home during the day when they were in preschool and go out at night to hawk moisturizer and foundation. My clients are mostly under 10 and they have to be in bed by 8pm.

Oh, I could go on and on. But not motivated? Argh! Bah! I write all my own brochures, make up my own lessons, answer my own calls, teach 10 or more classes a week, bring my 1 ½ year-old to work two mornings a week, buy my own supplies.

OK. This is not going where I wanted it to. I was hoping to write a thoughtful piece on being a working mom and being unappreciated. A piece about how working part-time is much harder than full-time. And, some day, when I don’t have four new poetry books waiting to be read, I will work on this essay. You see, I found a book at the bookstore about how writer mamas can succeed, er, make money with their writing, all the while being a mommy. And this is where my husband fell down the metaphorical well—he correlates success with money. Say nothing of the fact that I am a minor celebrity in the under 10-set in my little suburb. Say nothing of the fact that when he couldn’t find me, he just had to listen for the familiar cry of “Hi Miss J.,” from an adoring student, or, in this case, a student’s mom. See, husband? I am motivated. I’ve made little Picassos everywhere happy!


Blogger Carol Anne said...

The art looks amazing! And what a happy smile on that child! Keep it up. I have a hard time understanding the excessive money-motivation of our culture. It is so sad - we miss out on what is important.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Ouch. That was not a nice thing for him to say. Hmm. Maybe "motivated" would produce more quantity instead of quality? But not in my book. I'm a motivated school teacher, and damn proud too, but it doesn't mean I make any more!

That art piece reminds me of Monet. Keep doing what you're doing. Your "essay" sounded pretty good to me, too.

10:09 AM  
Blogger G said...

Ah, men. Men. What can I say? I get the same from my husband, that success=$$. My response is to objectify him, make him=success=money and, well, you know - the other things men are good for. :) ha ha ha ha

Good writing. And it's a great thing you do with your art studio, wish I lived closer to send my little artists to you! Ever consider writing a book about your studio work?

2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think what bothers me about this whole sentiment from husbands and other people in the world (let me count the ways!) is the whole contention that artists and writers are laid back. like it's a life of leisure and that we don't work hard at what we do. like it's all a fun little game and aren't we lucky to indulge in this luxury?

(of course, being an artist and writer is sort of fun and nothing like a death march or anything like that BUT ... laidback implies lack of effort and that's not the case!)

ladies, poets, get your swords and torches, we're going to ransack the village!

3:08 PM  
Blogger deirdre said...

I'm gritting my teeth with you. As a fellow self-employed person I can empathize with you and your frustration. I hate that little pat on the head-aren't-you-a-nice-little-worker.

9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boyz suck!

OK, not always, but sometimes.

And by boyz I mean husbands and by suck I mean don’t “get” all the stuff we do. Hmpfh.

1:12 AM  
Blogger Poet with a Day Job said...

Your writing rocks. There's no way you are not motivated. You blog. That's motivation right there. And your poems are so good. And I would miss you terribly if you were no longer here. You are so funny. Your perspective is hilarious and incredulous and perfect. And I would have thrown a tantrum on the Border's bookstore floor if my L ever said anything like that (and she has, and I have). And then my friends tell me all the wonderful things that make me me and I love me again. And ps: visit mamazine.com, and submit your poetry there, and if you want to try to write for them, pitch a column and drop my name. I used to be poetry editor there. Motivated...humph!

1:51 PM  
Blogger Cmommy said...

I wish I lived near you!

And, don't get me started on the intense/manipulative sales techniques that surround those pastel cars!

Thanks for sharing about your art studio--I knew you were an amazing poet, now I know you are a great teacher, too :-)

3:23 PM  
Blogger Shelley said...

If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all. ~ Anna Quindlen

Hang in there and stay true to you, Jill... we love the "you" you've shared!

2:36 PM  

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