Yesterday, I talked about my project, Genetrix: Curating Stories of Creative Mothers and how I would be incorporating it here into my personal site rather than keeping it in its own place anymore. Today I’m posting the introduction to the project that I wrote a year and a half ago, with some notes afterward on things that have changed in the past year and a half.
How did we get here? I’d been collecting articles and books about motherhood and art for months when Electric Literature published Grace Elliott’s “Why Do I Have to Choose Between Being a Writer and a Mother?” in which she writes:
I am having such trouble finding narratives of women who are mothers and artists, or mothers and musicians, or mothers and writers — stories in which women are both, without their struggle to be more than a mother overwhelming them… [I am] looking for a narrative in which creative women do not have to choose between abandoning their work or their children. I hope to find a story of women who live as men do: loving and ambitious, child-raisers and artists.
As a mother and a writer, this spoke to me on a soul level. Reading this immediately followed my participation in Kim Werker’s Daily Making Jumpstart Live, two weeks of attempting to make something daily. In the course of that process, two weeks during which sometimes my two year old son didn’t nap, I found my relationship with creativity and making changing. At first, I had ambitions of crocheting rows and rows a day, preparing elaborate meals, maybe taking up woodworking. In the middle, I started to count mixing some chai concentrate with almond milk as my making for the day. But by the end, I was, in fact, chugging along with crochet, knocking out a giant doily shawl over the course of a week. Some days I could be a mother and a creative person, and other days I couldn’t.
Elliott’s writing and this experience confirmed for me that I needed to seek out the stories of other creative mothers. And my natural inclination is to share the stories I find.
What are we doing here? Like motherhood itself, creating and curating this project will be a process of trial and error. I’ll be sharing links to blog posts and articles that inspire me and can serve as a launching point into our journey at the intersection of creativity and motherhood. I’m hoping to include reviews of relevant books and media, and conversational interviews with actual creative mothers. But please tell me what you would like to see in this space. I’m especially interested in ideas for how we can build a community of people interested in stories of creative mothers.
Who am I? I’m Kimberly Hirsh, and I’m a mother, performer, writer, and crafter. Most of my creativity these days is used to produce academic writing as part of my doctoral work toward a PhD in information and library science. If you want to get to know me better, you can check out my website.
I’m a white, American, raised Christian but currently agnostic and a little witchy, chronically ill but without other disabilities, vaguely straight, monogamously heterosexually partnered, legally married, postgraduate educated, middle class cis woman. I’m a full-time graduate student with a part-time assistantship.
My son was conceived after three years of PCOS-driven anovulatory infertility via intercourse with no medical assistance other than metformin, born of my body, delivered vaginally, and while the labor, birth, and aftermath definitely came with some trauma, it was relatively uncomplicated.
I’m blessed/lucky/privileged to have my parents, my partner’s parents, and our siblings all living close by and able to help with our son. He and I spend five mornings a week at a coworking space/Montessori School, but I am his primary caregiver. We live in a suburban neighborhood in a medium-sized city with many organizations and activities designed to support young children and their families.
A note on inclusion… All those characteristics and experiences mentioned above obviously affect my lens on creativity and motherhood. I’m going to deliberately seek out perspectives different than my own, but I’m also going to mess up. Please feel free to let me know when I do and to share stories and perspectives I miss.
Who counts as a creative mother? For our purposes, a mother is anyone who identifies as a mother. As for a definition of creativity, well, I’m thinking here of writers, artists, performers, designers, architects, crafters… But that definition is a floor, not a ceiling.
What has changed since January 2019? My son is three, almost four now, rather than two. Our Montessori/co-working space closed at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic and will not re-open in the time we had left to spend there. We are socially distanced from most of our family members, though my husband’s mother does come over most days to help with our son so I can get literally any work done on my dissertation at all. The many wonderful organizations and opportunities for families with young children in our city are not currently available to us, either because they are closed or because we are continuing mostly to stay at home, as I may be at higher risk of complications from COVID-19 if I should contract it.
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