A life that’s rich with love and joyful experience comes at a pretty price and not in a ribbon tied perfect package.
I’m being totally straight forward here; life with a newborn is raw and unhinged. It just is. I don’t care who you are and how pulled together your life is, behind your front door is a very tired woman just trying to make sure, at the very least, her children (baby) eat and sleep. As far as I’m concerned, all else is optional for the first few weeks. I don’t think my daughter brushed her hair for at least a week or three after the baby came home. Honestly, if they brushed their teeth once a day, that would have been acceptable. The newborn time is short and oh so sweet, but boy is it ugly and messy…. the mother alone is a sleep deprived, milk leaking, hungry…no starving, diaper explosion and spit up stained, sour smelling mess. At any given time of day she could use a shower. It’s raw and at times down right ugly, and somehow, still my favorite time ever. I love the simplicity. I love the free pass to spend the entire day in pajamas getting to know my brand new person. And, this past time around, I soaked those days in even more than before. I am one of those people who covets the newborn stage (not everyone’s favorite age), but at a point I still found myself having an emotional breakdown; a good ole ugly cry. I was in much need of the talking-to I got from my best friend. Even with a love for these fleeting days, I needed help from the sinking baby blues. She pulled me from the hole I dug myself into from weeks of sleep deprivation, unfinished everything, the milk production “scaries” and that damn post baby inner tube still hanging on to my waist. She put me into this perspective that I am writing this from, and she reminded me that all that was regular will come back in time, but this little baby won’t be a baby for long (💔). She gave me the welcomed advice to relax and focus on nursing and Netflix for the time being. Music to my ears. All else will come in time.
It seems like every time I turn around lately I am reminded that it truly takes a village, and you’d be crazy to think that you are an exception. Even if your village helper is a phone call with a friend who’s been there, it will help more than you may realize.
Now, at 7 weeks out, I am trying to focus on the world outside of my pajamas and baby laundry covered bedroom. When I make it to my studio to paint, I find myself thinking a lot about the ruggedness that is my new life with 3 children. It’s at once so ugly and so beautiful. It’s frantic and stressful at times and other times super slow paced and relaxing and completely blissful. In reflexion, I can understand that this combination is alright for now and makes for a nice balance. Stepping away to do something that makes me me helps with perspective. Things won’t always be this way, and that’s what makes it ok to enjoy it versus forcing the regularity to return before due time. I love this saying, but never before has it been more relevant: You can do anything, but you cannot do everything. You can have the things you truly want, but you better get ready to make some choices and learn the importance of saying “no”.
Consequently, my paintings are looking more like this current life of mine. The paintings are a little ragged and somewhat edgy; explorative and limit pushing; less tidy and perfected; more wild lines and loose ends yet created with intention and care. No apologies. I’m working with limited color palettes and finding a simplicity there that balances the static energy in the markings.
The terms natural selection and survival of the fittest are appearing in my sketchbook notes….
natural selection | ˈnaCH(ə)rəl səˈlekSHən |noun Biology
the process whereby organisms better adapted to their environment tend to survive and produce more offspring. (or more art in my case)
-survival of the fittest
Survival is a heavy term, but it’s the right one. I could totally stay in my pajamas, and let everything fall to shit around me….very tempting some days. I could ignore the pressure to get back to painting, and send the kids to school everyday with a lunch-able and disgusting hygiene. I could just chill in a messy toy cluttered house nursing on demand all day….unmade beds and piled up laundry… That would be easy and that works for some people, but not me. That’s not me surviving because that’s not me. I am someone who ordinarily requires order and routine, organization and a relatively tidy house. But, surviving this new and challenging time is for me to choose painting, healthy and well-fed children, and a breastfed baby on a schedule. Those are my choices and that’s my way of surviving to the fittest. I have to adapt with all that’s going on, and it’s why selection is required on my part…no apologies just necessary choices. Because I cannot do everything…for now my beds aren’t always made and there are toys under my feet as I write this. I fit in a walk when I can, but it doesn’t happen everyday. What’s working is to allow life to unfold the way it needs to right now, adapting along the way. This is how I am surviving (not thriving) and what’s spurring my desire and ability to paint right now. It won’t last forever this way because, as they say, “babies don’t keep”. Life is not perfect, and that’s perfectly fine. I’ve said it before, but what’s perfect is not real. A rich life is an imperfect one. A rich life is full of emotions and experiences that you wouldn’t want to miss. I couldn’t trade the mess I’m in now for something prettier. The price is too high.