I may have come late to creative work, but I view it as one of the best things to have happened in my life, right after my children. When I eventually started writing creatively, I discovered parts of myself that I previously could only guess at. I am a mother above all, but I am not only a mother. I have created my children, but that is not all I can create.
Yet the two things - being a creative and a mother - are tied together in ways that some may not expect. The thing that I have come to realize since, is that the two things feed into each other rather synergistically. That is to say, being a mother has made me a better creative, and vice versa. Becoming more fully realised as a person by finding a calling, and discovering who I am outside of being a mother and a partner through meaningful work, makes me better at both.
One of the things I noticed soon after working as a creative was that it has enabled me to expand my own definition of what creativity means.
This in turn has informed my parenting and how I view my children as beings who are just learning who they are as people. I can truly understand how being more fully myself is vital to helping my children do the same. Where before I was concerned that one child’s lack of enthusiasm for school would lead to challenges later in life, I now am able to find new examples every day of other areas in which they thrive. Another’s resistance to following set paths didn’t signal rebelliousness, but self-sufficiency and fierce independence. My children are all so different from each other, with their own strengths and personality, that I couldn’t possibly expect the same of each, nor could I parent them the same way. Knowing myself more fully as a result of exploring my creativity affords me the confidence and clarity that allows me to be the kind of parent I want to be.
It’s not just my children that benefit, I feel my work does too. When you’re more grounded in your own sense of self, you’re better able to see the world in new and different ways than you could before. That naturally leads to more creativity and innovative thinking, borne of that same confidence and clarity mentioned earlier. A willingness to try new things and think differently works just as well for creating good work as it does for parenting. Can’t seem to crack a brief? Don’t try and tackle the problem given, try failing at it instead. That could give you new insight into your obstacles and how to overcome them. Same for being a mother: little one throwing a tantrum for unknown reasons? Don’t try and stop it, just get down to their level and sit with them for a while. That may reveal the fact that their favourite toy was stuck under the couch where they couldn’t reach it. Boom, mystery solved.
Getting down to your child’s level, sometimes literally, is in fact a great illustration of how motherhood can have a direct impact on creativity.
What better way to see the world through your child’s eyes than meeting them where they are? The world from their perspective is often more wondrous, but can also be filled with unfamiliar challenges. So what I found was that the more I tried empathising with my children, the more it fostered the sort of empathy that allows me to create work that resonates with people on a deeper level.
This kind of authenticity, unsurprisingly, is essential to good creative work. All good art contains something of their author, and I know that every word I write is a piece of myself that I put out into the world (which makes writing a terrifying exercise sometimes, but that’s another article for another time). I believe work that is genuine and true to the human experience, work that comes from a deeper connection to my own thoughts and emotions will find a wider audience than work that is not. Not only that but writing authentically has the added benefit of letting me develop my own voice as a writer, a style that is unique to me.
If you’re wondering what effect watching their mother do all of this has on my children, I can tell you that my relationship with each of them has grown and deepened alongside my own growth as a person and a budding copywriter. Discovering my love for writing and being able to explore it creatively as my job has had ripple effects on the rest of my life in the best of ways. In an effort to continue this virtuous cycle, I’m always tapping into my role as a parent at work to try and create copy that is inclusive, impactful and better every time; work that is inspired by, and created for my children. Because it seems to me that if I am to keep trying to be better as both a writer and a mother, there’s no better way than to create a body of work that my children will one day read and be proud of.
The writer is Rebecca Harbick, copywriter, Media.Monks
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