I studied art in college, worked as a commercial artist/illustrator for many years, then had children and my art career drifted away-partly because computers took over and partly because I devoted my time to raising kids. I loved being home with my kids and felt it was a privilege, but I was increasingly unfulfilled as a person. I worked on some paintings, but then writing songs took over and music became my total focus.
I recorded a CD then got out of the house to play live, as a middle-aged suburban woman I found it funny, but was also very serious about it. When I was asked by well-meaning people “How’s the music going” I would sometimes say that it was hard, frustrating; my age, where I live, this conflict, that obstacle…more often than not people, and especially women, would respond, “Oh well you have two lovely kids” !!!!!!
However well-intended, it’s the worst thing you can say. With the question posed in this blog: How can we improve motherhood… I would propose this: stop conflating having a baby with creativity. I think it’s amazing the way a child comes into the world, but it is purely biological. (Religious arguments is a whole other blog!!) Most women can produce an offspring and it’s not a work of art, it’s a human being. I think there is an art to the way a woman raises her children for sure, but women have to be taken seriously as professional artists, removed from their family situation, the way men are. It’s an old-fashioned notion that women can be totally fulfilled by motherhood and family, while the men are out there thinking, inventing, creating …art and music have been my occupation, but as a female I’m sure I’m considered a dilettante by some, my activities mere hobbies. It is sublime to be paid for your art- but it is also hard work like any other profession.
I can say from my experience that creating a worthwhile work of art produces such an exhilarating feeling that I wonder if it can take the place of the intense feelings produced by motherhood? I love my children dearly, but their existence does not replace the passion to create art in whatever form and the satisfaction derived from the final product. I don’t regard my kids as “works in progress” and all that.
In a perfect world you need both rewards- the joy of loving your kids and the joy of loving your art.
I wrote the song “Late Bloomer” early on- expressing my fear of entering this new and unfamiliar phase of life verses the comfort of home and family. I thought about my mother who was a 1950s housewife and never realized her dreams, my daughter who has so much more opportunity than previous generations- and me, in the middle- hoping I did bloom after all.
© 2001 Patrice Moermnan (from CD Following A Dream)
I know I’m a late bloomer- I’ve known it all along
The choices that I made before- I know they weren’t wrong
Those people in their twenties- How were they so wise
While I was finding my way – They were on the rise
But they lost some things they might regret
Am I just a coward with my safety net
I think I’m like a tortoise- I’m surely not the hare
I’m looking for the finish line- Except I don’t know where
I’m driving down the highway- Looking for a sign
I think about good fortune- I hope it will be mine
Flowers bloom in springtime, then the petals fall,
But the tragedy is not to bloom at all
Can’t play this part forever- There has to be a change
Why are things so normal- And at the same time strange
Don’t know what I was thinking- When I stepped outside
I took a look around me- And knew I couldn’t hide
BIO: Patrice lives in the Washington DC area with her husband, two kids and dog. She teaches guitar at The School Of Rock, records when she can, paints, plays with her band ‘Hot Flash’ and has been coordinating local Mamapalooza events since 2004. You can find her HERE. PatriceMoerman.com