Jen Samonte Valencia is a San Diego mom raising 4 kids. She has a new blog. Here is a quick overview of her
Eleanor Roosevelt once said “A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.” Like strength, creativity sometimes blossoms in times of necessity… as in “I haven’t showered in two days and I NEED to find a creative way to preoccupy the twins for 5 minutes” or as in, “I NEED a creative way to hide the fact the four children have Sharpie marked all over hubby’s favorite painting.”
I had four children in the span of four years (the twins were an accident. I was nursing and on the low-dose pill. Don’t judge me). Before the fierce four came along I was did creative things, but in that “very bland run-of-the-mill creative” kind of way. I did crafty things like scrapbooking, photography, and many years of classical dance all the way through graduate school. But now that my household is a six-pack, my creativity soars simply because in a household with four small kids, you have to think outside the box and be creative to survive.
Now that I have a litter of kids, my creativity is expressed in a myriad of ways. I sew, I bake, I take pictures (not well!). I teach Zumba fitness classes so I can choreograph. I practice jiu jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts (yes, cage-fighting) because the sport is an art in its own right. I write. And I write. And I write. Writing affords me the luxury of expressing things that are sometimes too scary to say aloud. I finger-paint. I decorate superhero shaped cookies. I make up choreography to Yo Gabba Gabba songs. I wear a costume and become “Mommy Dentist” at nighttime when it’s time to floss and brush. How am I creative post-kids? I think the real question is: How am I not creative post-kids?
How is all this creative activity happening between the kids’ jiu jitsu, dance lessons, piano, and homework, not to mention my own activities (working at a biotech as a trainer, teaching Zumba and barre fitness classes, teaching public speaking classes at the Design Institute, exercising, cooking, cleaning—ok, not really cleaning, because I never do… and being an attentive and loving wife)? Having children has made me realize that creativity isn’t something we “make time” for. Being original and creative is something that can be practiced all the time, everyday, expressed in what we say, how we dress, how we think, and who we are. Do I want to be a boring June Cleaver mom that cooks, cleans, and probably cries in the car when no one is watching? Or do I want to be a crazy out of the box mom that embarrasses you by starting flash mobs in Costco, sews you a monogram skirt, teaches you how to play the Star Wars theme on the piano, cuts your hair in a twin-hawk, then turns around to kick someone’s ass in the cage (and definitely cries in the car when no one is watching)? I opt to be the latter.
The truly phenomenal thing is that I am able to be that crazy creative mom because my children have taught me that it’s ok not to be like everyone else and to act on my creative impulses. Having children has elevated my capabilities to be creative all the time. Having children helps me achieve things that I never thought were possible. Having children forces me to think outside the box, get creative, and be OK with uncomfortable. If we can somehow learn from our children to embrace our impulses to act on creative thought, and to encourage, not just tolerate the original thought of others, the world would be a much more colorful place.