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3 women share how their creative work evolved with motherhood

One of the great challenges of parenthood is finding the time (and sometimes even focus) to maintain a creative practice. That’s partly why we love the #100DayProject, which we wrote about in April.


It’s “a celebration of process that encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making.” For 100 days, people do something creative, sharing their work daily on Instagram as they go. We think this is a perfect, approachable framework for busy parents to either jumpstart their creative expression or experiment with a new creative outlet.

Now that the #100DayProject has passed the 50-day mark, we wanted to profile three creative mothers who’ve stuck with the project.

But instead of simply asking about their projects (which will be over soon), we wanted to learn how parenthood has changed their relationship to their creativity.

We asked them two questions:

  1. How did your relationship to your creative work evolve when you became a parent? 
  2. (Bonus question) How has it further evolved as your children have grown older?

CHRISTINA ROSALIE

Christina’s 100 Day Project: #100daysof___circles

Instagram.com/christina_write

How did your relationship to your creative work evolve  when you became a parent? 

Being an artist and being a parent require the same creative energy. The same vital spark that ignites my creative work, is what my boys crave from me. In that way, they are at odds with each other.

Since having children, the time has become more precious. Not only because each hour uninterrupted, is pure gold, but also because they mark time’s passing.  As they’ve gotten older, my life feels like it’s accelerated.Years become minutes.

On the wall, we mark their height in inches. Their growth is inevitable and fast. Yesterday they were small. Yesterday they were babies. Today I can’t remember them as anything other than what they are: lanky limbed and loud.

They have less immediate physical demands, but more emotional demands. They don’t nap any more; they dress themselves, can play for hours unsupervised. At the same time, they want my attention differently. It’s not just about me looking, watching, witnessing them in their world (though it is this, always this). It’s about really listening.  Even though they require less energy in one way, they require more in another, and so in the end, there’s still the conflict: time with them, or time to create. It’s not easy to find the overlap.

Instagram.com/christina_write

I take time when I can. During the week, it’s a handful of minutes maybe. On the weekend, it’s time that could time with them. Yet I trust that what they’ll remember isn’t what I missed, but what I inspired in them. An avid love for the creative process. An appreciation for the solace, one’s on company. A deep, raw wonder at the beauty of this world.

More about Christina:

ERIKA LOWE

Erika’s #100DayProject: #100daysoflittleraincloud

“Showing up to sketch daily using my daughter’s quotes.”

Instagram.com/thelittleraincloud/

How did your relationship to your creative work evolve  when you became a parent? 

When my daughter was born, my whole being focused like a laser on her. Everything was concrete and grounded in basic human needs. Time to nurse. Time to change a diaper. Time to sing her to sleep. I forgot a bit of my creative self-other than figuring out how to change a diaper in an airplane or function at work on zero sleep.

When she became a toddler, all that changed. Kids have unlimited creativity, and I found myself playing pirates on the playground, building forts and spreading paint all over canvasses with my bare hands. I returned to writing, acting, taking photographs and making art again.

Now she is seven. We’re both growing in our creative practice, and I want to be a role model for her and show her that creativity is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. Just showing up matters, and the #100DayProject is a great exercise to demonstrate this.

https://instagram.com/thelittleraincloud/

I also find myself taking more risks with the creative process as a parent than I did when I was alone. Maybe it’s because time passes so much faster now, and there’s a sense of urgency to create. Each stage of childhood is wondrous, but impermanent, reminding me that life is fleeting. So find me wanting to constantly capture snapshots of it through writing, photographs and sketches.

Sometimes I want to kick myself for wasting so much time in my twenties, but what matters is that I keep going and don’t stop creating from here on out.

More about Erika:

MARISSA HUBER

Marissa’s #100DayProject: #100daysofmhvignettes

“I’m committing and excited about this 100 Day Project. I will paint one very loose watercolor daily of an interior, a home vignette, a cool house, or a small object. I’ll aim to use my watercolors, but I can also use Paper by @fiftythree! I can’t wait to see what everyone makes.”

Instagram.com/marissahuber/

How did your relationship to your creative work evolve  when you became a parent? 

 

Before I had my son, I was repeatedly told that I would never have a moment to myself ever again. While I understood that my life would be irrevocably changed (for the better in my opinion), I resented being told this. Can’t we celebrate changes in our lives, but not guilt those who still want to keep something of themselves? As a child, one of my favorite things about my mom was that she had her own interests, and encouraged me to pursue my own as well. I want to pass this along to my son.

The great thing about impending motherhood was it gave me a deadline for the “someday” I’d relegated some dreams too. A friend and I officially launched an interior design consulting business, and I started taking my art seriously. The way timing works, suddenly I had a newborn baby, room designs to wrap up, and illustrations to complete for a deadline. Thankfully, my mom was in town helping, and I had the support from my husband and mom to rest, enjoy my new baby,  but also complete these amazing opportunities. I learned how to work quickly and efficiently, and to trust my instincts. I no longer procrastinated out of fear. If Henry was sleeping, I was not going to waste a moment cleaning up my work area when I needed to be painting. And in the early and overwhelming days of motherhood, it felt good to do something that still felt like me. I didn’t realize how much I needed a little bit of that in my life until then.

Being a mother makes me braver and more confident in life and with my art. I don’t care as much about what others think of me, and think that there is room at the table for artists of all types, myself included!

Instagram.com/marissahuber/

How has your creative process evolved further as your children have grown older?

Time for art with a day-job and a small child has definitely evolved. After the frenetic work was done for my deadlines when he was born, I made sure to be gentle with myself and just enjoy my son. I put my watercolors away one day and didn’t feel like painting for about 9 months. That was okay. I don’t regret it one bit, since I had learned to trust my instinct, and was enjoying the simple and beautiful daily moments with my son. Also, I was learning how to be a mama and maybe myself again too.

Then one day, the paint called to me. The time off from painting resulted in such a surge in inspiration, that I have barely skipped a day in the past 7 months. I also think some of this has to do with Instagram, and the wonderful community there. Through social media, I found the most supportive creative people, who inspire me to dream bigger and implement ideas like a recent interview series I’ve started focusing on Artist Mothers.

The biggest challenge with a small child is free time. I view time way more critically now. Time is harder to come by unless I make other sacrifices in my life. Lately I’ve found that if I wake up earlier while my son is sleeping, I can paint before work and not miss out on time with him. I am the worst morning person ever, so it shows how much you may be able to sacrifice to do what you love!  Also, I’ve learned to be very realistic with my time, and know I can only take on so much side work at a time. I live by the quote, “You can do anything, but not everything.”

Some days I let my son watch more TV than I’d like to so I can finish some work. I try to balance it out by making the time I spend with him count. I put the phone down, I listen to him, and I crawl on the floor and play with him and his monster trucks. I don’t know how things will change as he gets older, but I do know that he doesn’t have another mother to compare me to. I hope he will remember that I always hugged him with my entire being, that we laughed a lot, that I try to include him when I can, and that he knows that I do this so that I can be the best mother possible to him by filling my cup a bit too.

Connect with Marissa Huber
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With the many blessings of multiple kids, comes the challenge of needing even more gear—gear that's guaranteed to go the extra mile. With storage space already at a premium, you can probably get away with some new baby clothes. But multiplying the number of strollers in the garage? That's not going to fly.

But with the new Nuna DEMI™ grow stroller, "less is more" is truly the answer to your problems.

1. It has every seat arrangement you could need

Strollers can be complex enough when you only need one seat. Add in another baby and shopping for a perfect fit can feel like enough to make you spend the next few years at home. But, with the Nuna DEMI™ grow stroller, you don't have to know exactly how your kids will want to sit for the rest of time. It offers 23 modes, making for clever convertibility, for whichever way your family may grow. Simply add to DEMI grow as you need.

2. You’re spared the stroller wrestling match

When you're toting around two kids, the last thing you need is an uncooperative stroller. With the Nuna DEMI™ grow, you can do a remarkable number of things with just a touch (or less than that if you're really creative). From a one-hand adjustable calf support, to one-touch brake to easy folding it up, you don't need to call backup just to get back into the car from your outing.

Bonus: The no-rethread harness on the compatible Nuna PIPA™ series car seats enables you to easily raise or lower the straps without the headache of unhooking and rerouting them each time your baby goes through a growth spurt.

3. It ensures comfort—no matter who is sitting where

Not only are there 23 different modes, but each seat is made to feel like the "best" one. With options to recline, kick up their feet and keep the sun out of their eyes with UPF 50+ canopies, you won't have to referee the "but I want to sit there" battle. (Moms of toddlers, you'll know why this is such an important detail.)

4. It’s designed for year-round adventures

For any mama who has been struck with fear from the sight of a bumpy sidewalk, worry no more. With ultra-tough, foam-filled tires and custom dual suspension, the Nuna DEMI™ grow stroller is designed to tackle just about any terrain all while keeping your little ones comfy in their seats. The seats themselves were also designed for maximum comfort, no matter the temperature: With an all-season seat, the padded exterior can easily be removed to expose the breathable mesh lining when you're out and about on hot days.

5. You don’t have to predict the future of your family

When researching and buying a new stroller, it can feel like you need to have exact plans for the future of your family mapped out.

But with the Nuna DEMI™ grow, you don't need to worry about all those plans right now. Whether you just need one seat, two seats, bassinet or car seats, this single stroller has you covered and grows as you need it.

That way, you can worry less about predicting your family's future—and enjoy exactly where it is today even more.

This article was sponsored by Nuna. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Finding the person you want to spend your life with is never easy, but when you're a parent, there's an extra layer of consideration. You're not just choosing the person you will spend lazy Sundays (and hurried weekday mornings) with—you're choosing the person your children will spend them with, too.

And when that person has children of their own, things get even more complicated. Blending two families isn't easy, but it can be beautiful, as Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez prove.

Each half of this power couple has two children each, and they're doing their best to make their relationship work not just for each other, but for those four children, too.

"We love each other and we love our life together," Lopez recently told People. "I was so loving to his kids and he was so loving and accepting of mine, and they embraced each other right away. [It was] 'I get a new bonus brother and sisters to hang out with all the time and it's nice.'"

A Rod agrees, telling People: "Our kids have become best friends and that keeps us both grounded and appreciative."

Here are five ways J Lo and A-Rod are totally #parentinggoals when it comes to balancing the needs of their blended family.

1.They bring the kids together

Lopez and Rodriguez each spend time with their own children, but they also bring all four kids (Lopez shares 10-year-old twins Maximilian and Emme with her ex, Marc Anthony, and Rodriguez shares daughters Ella, 10, and Natasha, 13, with his ex, Cynthia Scurtis) together for fun family outings, like ice cream dates and basketball games.

Research indicates that about 14% of kids in step families don't feel like they belong in their family, and report that their family doesn't have fun together. By bringing the kids together for fun family times, Lopez and Rodriguez are encouraging a sense of family belonging outside the relationship they have with each of the kids individually. Studies suggest an adolescents' sense of family belonging is linked to their overall well-being. So this ice cream date is actually healthy, in a way.

​2. They consider their children's other parents family, too

If their Instagrams are any indication, Rodriguez and Lopez have a great time hanging out with their blended family, but they understand that their children have other family members, too, and they don't mind hanging out with them.

A recent Instagram post proves Rodriguez considers Marc Anthony #famila, and that's how it should be.

Studies show supportive communication between a parent and their ex-partner's new partner is good for the family as a whole. Likewise, when the relationship between a parent and a stepparent is antagonistic, relationships beyond their own stuffer. It's truly better if a parent's co-parent and their current partner can hang.

3. They’re a united front with their co-parents

Rodriguez considers J Lo's ex family, and he also doesn't forget that (despite legal disagreements) his ex-wife plays a big role in his daughter's lives. So he celebrates their big co-parenting moments, like parent-teacher night.

Lopez, too, celebrates the times she and Anthony get together for their twins' big moments, recently telling Kelly Rippa the two are now in a really great place, and basically best friends. "The kids get to spend time with the two of us more together and see us working together," she said."It's just good for the whole family," says Lopez.

4. They make time for each other without the kids

Having all four kids together at once looks like fun, but hanging out with three 10-year-olds and a teen also sounds like it could be a little exhausting. That's why the couple takes time to unwind, without the kids, when they can.

As J Lo wrote in a recent Instagram post, "it's the lil quiet moments that matter the most."

5. They're doing it their way

Back in April Lopez was asked whether or not she and A Rod would be getting married soon (thanks to a Spanish language single "El Anillo," which is Spanish for "The Ring"), she told People, she's not in any rush, despite the song.

"I've done that before. I'm a little bit more grown up now, and I like to let things take their natural course," she said. "I know people are going to say that… we are really kind of good for each other and are really having the best time, and our kids love each other and all that."

[A version of this story was originally published July 12, 2018.]

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If you use U by Kotex tampons, you should check your box before your next period, mama.

Regular absorbency U by Kotex Sleek Tampons are being recalled throughout the U.S. and Canada. According to the FDA, defective tampons have been coming apart when people tried to remove them, "in some cases causing users to seek medical attention to remove tampon pieces left in the body."

The FDA notes that there have also been a "small number of reports of infections, vaginal irritation, localized vaginal injury, and other symptoms."

In a statement on its website, U by Kotex explains that the recall is specific to the U by Kotex Sleek Tampons, Regular Absorbency only. The Super Absorbency or Super Plus Absorbency tampons are not part of the recall.

The recall is for specific lots of the Regular Absorbency tampons manufactured between October 7, 2016 and October 16, 2018.

The lot numbers start with NN (or XM, for small, 3 count packages) and can be found near the barcode on the bottom of the box.

To check if your tampons are part of the recall, type your lot number into this form on the U by Kotex site.


The FDA says if you've used the tampons and are experiencing the following you should seek immediate medical attention:

  • vaginal injury (pain, bleeding, or discomfort)
  • vaginal irritation (itching or swelling)
  • urogenital infections (bladder and/or vaginal bacterial and/or yeast infections)
  • hot flashes
  • abdominal pain
  • nausea or vomiting

If you have a package of the recalled tampons you should not use them and should call Kotex's parent company, Kimberly-Clark at 1-888-255-3499. On its website U by Kotex asks consumers not to return the tampons to stores.

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I grew up watching the Fresh Prince of Bel Air so pretty much anytime Will Smith pops up on my Facebook feed, I click. (Also, I happen to live near West Philadelphia, so you know, there's a lot of theme song singing. My husband finds me hysterical.)

Anyway...

The last time I clicked on a Will Smith video, he was telling a story about when he went skydiving. He had made the decision to go with his friends, and then spent the whole night and morning leading up to it terrified, envisioning all the things that could go wrong.

When he was finally up in the plane, the guide explained that they would jump on the count of three. "One… two…" except they push you out on "two" because everyone throws their arms out and stops themselves at "three." So before he knew it, he was flying.

And he found it to be absolutely amazing.

He said, "The point of maximum danger is the point of minimum fear. It's bliss. The lesson for me was, why were you scared in your bed the night before? What do you need that fear for? You're nowhere even near the airplane. Everything up to the stepping out, there's actually no reason to be scared. It only just ruins your day… the best things in life [are] on the other side of [fear]."

Motherhood is skydiving.

If someone came up to you one day and said, "Hey. I have this job for you. You are going to grow a human in your body, kind of like it's an alien. And then that human is going to come out of your body—and that process is really intense. And then the human will be really helpless and you will have to turn it into a fully functioning adult with an important place in this world. Okay… go!"

You'd smile politely and walk run away as fast as you could.

Because if you think about it, the idea of doing all of that—motherhoodis pretty terrifying. The amount of responsibility and work is sort of incomprehensible.

The grand scheme of motherhood is scary.

The thing is, though, that the grand scheme of motherhood is actually made up of millions of tiny moments in which you will be a total boss.

Whether it's a jump-out-of-the-plane moment, or a get-the-toddler-out-of-the-car-seat moment, you will face it with bravery.

Remember, being brave isn't the absence of fear, it's being afraid and doing it anyway.

Being brave is taking a pregnancy test—and seeing that it's positive. Or seeing that it's negative, again.

Being brave is waiting for the adoption agency to call you and tell you that she's here.

Being brave is watching your body change in a hundred ways, and lovingly rubbing your belly as it does.

Being brave is giving your body over to the process of bringing your baby into the world—yes, even if you cry, or complain, or cry and complain. You're still brave. Promise.

Being brave is bringing that baby home for the first time. Oh, so much bravery needed for that one.

Being brave is giving that first bath, going to that first pediatrician visit, spending that first full day at home, alone, with the baby,

Being brave is your first day back at work—or making the phone call to tell them you won't actually be coming back at all.

Being brave is ignoring all the noise around you, and parenting your child the way you know is best for your family.

Being brave is letting go of her hands when she takes her first steps.

Being brave is sitting next to her and smiling when you're in the emergency room for croup—and then sobbing when you get home.

Being brave is bringing her to her first day of school—and going home without her.

Being brave is saying "yes" to her first sleepover and "no" to her first car.

Being brave is hugging her the first time her heart breaks, when your heart might possibly hurt even more than hers does.

Being brave is listening quietly when she tells you she plans to "travel the world."

Being brave is bringing her to her first day of college—and going home without her.

Being brave is watching her commit her life to another person, who is not you.

Being brave is watching her become a mother.

And one day, sweet, brave mama, you'll look back and realize that you just jumped out of an airplane—you raised a child.

All of the things that seemed terrifyingly impossible—you just…do them. One at a time. You will wake up every day a little bit braver than the day before. And before you know it, you can look back on any aspect of motherhood and realize that little by little, you just increased your flying altitude.

Things that was seemed daunting are handled with ease. Ideas that once seemed impossible have become your reality one thousand times over.

So yes, motherhood is incredibly scary. But you are incredibly brave.

One... two... jump!

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There's so much noise.

All. The. Time.

It feels like it's 24 hours, 7 days a week.

There's whining, crying, chatting, banging, tapping, scratching, singing, buzzing, yelling, snoring, crunching, schlopping, chewing, slurping, stomping, clapping, singing, laughing.

There's sound machines with crashing waves coming at me around every corner. There's a baby (doll) crying, and then my real baby crying. There's toys going off even when no one is playing with them.

There's requests, questions, demands, negotiations, plans, adventures, stories, performances—at all times.

There's ringing phones, alarms going off, voicemails, television theme songs (Daniel Tiger, I'm looking at you), Moana and Sing soundtracks playing. There's random loud videos playing when you're scrolling through Facebook and think you have your phone on silent.

I even hear things when there's nothing to be heard. Like the baby crying when I'm in the shower and she's sleeping. Like a bang from someone falling when everyone is fine. Like Imagine Dragon's 'Thunder' when it's not even on but it's stuck in my head because my daughter has requested to play it over and over and over.

At times, it makes me feel like I am going crazy. Like my brain doesn't work because I can't think clearly because the noise is all-encompassing.

This noise, paired with the never-ending, running-forever list of things to do in my head is one of the areas of motherhood that is hard for me. Really, really hard. It triggers my anxiety more than anything else does.

Sometimes, I just want to sit in silence. Alone. Not listening to anything or anyone.

Sometimes, I just want to hear myself think.

Sometimes, I just want the whining to stop.

Sometimes, I just want the brain fog to go away and never come back.

But what I've realized is that this is part of motherhood. Of my journey. Because, I have three children and it's never going to be quiet.

I need to get used to the noise, embrace the noise and know when I need to step back and take a break from the noise.

And I am used to the noise on some level.

I function fairly well on a daily basis getting work done and to-do lists checked off and taking care of my (loud, but wonderful) children. When all of the noise is overwhelming me, I've gotten into the habit of taking deep breaths and focusing on my task at hand.

It's not perfect, but it's something.

And I can definitely embrace the noise—especially the lovely noises of childhood.

Because when I think about it—is there anything better than hearing my 4-year-old belt out 'Thunder'?

Is there anything better than hearing my 2-year-old giggle uncontrollably?

Is there anything better than hearing the coos of my 3-month-old?

Is there anything better than hearing one of my daughters say "I love you, Mama"? Or "See you later, alligator"?

Is there anything better than hearing cheers from my kids to celebrate their siblings' accomplishment? ("Lucy went potty! Yay!")

Is there anything better than hearing your preschooler say "sh-sh-shhhhh" over and over to soothe her newborn sister like she sees her parents doing?

No, nothing is better. Not even silence.

But there will be days when it feels like it's too much. And I just want to say—

It's okay.

It's okay to want to sit in silence.

It's okay to look forward to the quiet that nighttime offers.

It's okay to admit to ourselves that sometimes the noise is too much.

And it's normal.

Our brains can only handle so much at one time. So, be gentle on yourself, mama. I know I'm trying.

I am learning to recognize when I need to step back and take a break from the noise.

I stay up late sometimes to enjoy the quiet—to listen to my thoughts.

I wake up early sometimes—to meditate and look inward.

I plan "me time" outside of the house—to spend time with myself and decide on choosing noise or not.

I hop in the shower when my husband gets home—to hand over the noise for a while and enjoy only the sound of rushing water.

There are moments of motherhood that challenge me—mind, body and soul. The constant noise is one of them. But these challenges will never beat me. I love being my children's mother too much.

So on the days when the noise is taking over, know that you're not alone. And know that peace and quiet is potentially just a shower away.


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