On Being A Mom and A Painter

When I got pregnant, back in July of last year, Philip and I decided not to announce to anyone but family and close friends until we knew the gender of the baby. Why? I’m not sure. But regardless, I was five months along when we announced, so the timetables in people’s minds were a little off. At least that’s what I’m guessing, because the time between the excited congratulations and the “be prepared for your life to be OVER for the next 18 years” remarks seemed very close together…too close together.

I’m guessing that normal people, who announce their pregnancies at two or three months, get the congratulations nice and early, and then have a few months of peace until those negative comments start flying.

It’s this weird phase of pregnancy, when suddenly no one cares that there is a tiny human growing inside of you, brimming with potential, and filling your hearts with unimaginable love. They pounce on the unsuspecting parents and fill their minds with terror and negativity.

“Your life will never be the same!”

“Your house will never be clean again!”

“You’ll never be able to go out again! And don’t even THINK about vacations!”

“Don’t bother buying nice clothes or nice things, because they’ll be ruined immediately!”

And one comment particular to my situation, “You think you’ll actually have time to paint after that baby comes!? HA!”

As these situations presented themselves time and time again during the last few months of my pregnancy, I wish I’d had the guts to ask these naysayers if they wish they’d never had kids. Would their lives really be better if they had never had a family? I’m guessing no.

But I also wish I’d been able to let them into my home for the past two days, and prove to them that I was being serious when I told them I would paint after my baby was born. I painted for three hours yesterday and the day before. Two one hour spans while my baby slept, and two half hour spans while he happily smiled and flailed his arms and legs on the floor next to me.

It may have only been a total of six hours, and may have been interrupted, but this is how I plan to spend my days for the next thirty years until my children leave for college. I’m making time for it, no matter what, and it is worth it. Yes, it’s a change, and no, it’s not as easy as before, but why would I want an easy and unchanging life? I love change, especially when it looks like this:

Would I give him back just so I could have eight hours of uninterrupted painting time every day? Of course not!

With dedication, passion, and a baby on a schedule, I’m doing and will continue doing what I want to do – being a mom AND a painter.

Oh, and my house is as clean as ever, we have four vacations planned for the remainder of 2010, and I think spit-up stains make my clothes even nicer.

I’m living my dream and keeping that negativity as far away as possible.

  • That's just because you have only ONE baby. Once you have two. . . .well, THEN your life will be over, your house will be a mess, and you will never again leave the house for vacation or for dinner.

    Love you!

  • Merrick, honestly, I hate people like that. I want to bluntly reply, "sorry, you make your life suck, but mine doesn't!"

    I think of your sister's post, she did an entire entry about this exact thing of stupid, ignorant, people want to put a pessimistic spin on our joy. Yeah, life isn't all roses, but it's the hardships that make it so so SWEET! I think I might explode on someone like this if I hear it again (and I will, because we ALL relate to this post). So watch out cynics!

    You are an awesome mom! I am so happy you are so happy! It was fabulous to see you the other day. You are just brimming with beauty and happiness. Thanks again for sharing your amazing talents with me! Your work will brighten my house for years!

  • Janssen, I am laughing out loud!!!!

    And if you still manage to keep it together after 2, just wait until 3 that's the real kicker. hahahah

  • I promised myself that I would never let my children become an excuse to not do the things that I want to do. If you really want to do something, you CAN make it work.

    My house does get cleaned. I make time to go work out four or five times a week. We may not go on one-on-one dates very often, but we have a family date night every week – we go to dinner, *gasp* in public. *gaspgasp* We go shopping on Saturdays together.

    I have two now and I get comments from people in the ward about how brave I am to venture out with my new one to RS stuff – which is mind boggling to me. I mean, what did they do? Stay home and never go anywhere? If they did, I can see why they would think their lives were over.

  • I LOVE this. Plus, they do NOT take into account that yes, once you have more than one it makes it a little more complicated, but HELLLO! They go to school all day when they're 5, and then what are you going to do? Paint of course!

    One of my favorite painter/moms (aside from you, of course!) is Cassandra Barney, who I had to do a report on in college… she is AMAZING. her blog is http://churningsandburnings.blogspot.com/

    You're doing amazing! And I think its pretty universal for people to be negative like that… its sad but its just the way our society is. And I choose, like yourself, to simply ignore them 🙂 While I'm proving them all wrong, of course!

  • I agree with almost everything you said! I find that being pregnant with child #3 makes the negative comments come MUCH earlier than with #1. And my other disagreement? the house- it may be as clean NOW as ever, but he still moves slower than you do, wait til he can crawl faster than you can run (I exaggerate. Slightly.) I am willing to give up things like a clean house in order to keep the things that make me ME- in my case sewing and reading. It's all about trade offs.

  • I love Janssen's comment! haha! it's cus your baby is a newborn and doesn't move! wait til he's a toddler! haha! seriously though (you know I'm teasing!) bust people can say some hurtful things- the truth is- life is different for every person in every way. Of course youcan still go out- esp when they're little like this- we took Hailyn to the movies until she was about 8 months- now we take her to movies we think we all will enjoy and she sits there with her snacks and does fine! We are going to philly, new york, d.c., sand diego, and on a cruise this summer WITH our toddler- and it'll be awesome! My house was just as clean before as it was after- and now we're teaching hailyn to put her toys away- it's all how you raise the baby! and it's about 'making it work' Ryan and I go on dates here and there when ryan's mom can watch her- otherwise if we have something planned we call her or one of our dear freinds and swap- ryan and I go on as many dates/vacations/outings (camping, rock climbing, snowboarding, four wheeling) as we did before- it's all on how you approach it- and frankly, you have the right attitude! I'm (An aspiring) writer and guess what? I finished my first novel AFTER Hailyn was born. When he's mobile you may need to adjust a bit but it's important for you to pursue your dreams and your passions- it's important for your baby to see that too- that mommy loves herself enough to carve out some time for her! the best moms always do! so prove those mean naysayers wrong (we certainly are!)

  • I think in situations like this – it's important to remember that those people usually mean well. Haven't you ever known someone who had a baby, then was absolutely shocked to discover that it's not all smiles and coos? I have. When I was pregnant I had a friend say to me that babies are better in you than out – which I thought was terrible at the time, but I understand her now – she just wanted me to go in with my eyes wide open. And actually, the thought has crossed my mind (like when he's sick and I am awake with him for 24 hours straight 😉 ) – but never, ever would I want to not have this precious child! Life isn't over once you have a baby, it is just beginning!

  • Don't listen to people… my house still stays clean, I go to the gym 5 days a week, I vacation a ton, we don't go out a ton but that's not because we can't we are more homebodies! You just have to decide what is important to you and what is not. If it's important you will find time and it will happen. I'll be honest I don't wear some of my really nice clothes all the time but it's not because my kids will ruin them it's because I don't work anymore so dress pants and collard shirts aren't as normal 🙂 Good Luck!

  • I got the comments like crazy as well. Please. I have two now and am still reading, working out, keeping a clean house, and living my life. Last night Aaron and I did dinner and a movie sans kids. Last week we did dinner WITH kids. It's not THAT hard. I think some people just let it overwhelm them and assume that no one else can hack it either. I think you do have to be good at managing your time but if you can figure that out then there is plenty of time for your own things.

    Plus, babies really don't do anything. You have plenty of time for productivity while they just lay there.

  • I think people say those things (I'm sorry if I was one of them- I can't remember) because they look back on their own pre-kid life and laugh at themselves and all the free time, aspirations, and how every one swears their life will stay the same.
    But it's completely changed forever. Not in a bad way. You still have a very newborn- and just one. I found I had scads of time when the twins were brand new and sleeping most of the time.
    And we have curtailed our vacations mostly because (a) I don't like to travel anyway (b) Traveling with kids is more work and (c) I don't find the extra effort worth it yet- the kids are still too young to enjoy all my extra effort.
    Your life will do a complete 180- just slowly, and you won't think it sucks. It will be your life and you will make adjustments that fit your family and your happiness.
    So far I have found the ages between 1-3 1/2 (to probably 5, but I only have experience to 3 1/2) to be the hardest when I am less able to do what I want. But that's just me.

  • wow merrick, you've just completely inspired me. i started a full-time job and haven't painted much in the past few weeks but i'm feeling all pumped to go home, CLEAN our apt, and paint for 4 hours! except it's not even 9AM yet 8 hours left until i go home) and we have plans with friends tonight so we'll see how i can fit everything in… 🙂

  • Oh Merrick – I'm all with you on the negative comments. I'll be the first to admit that being a Mom is sometimes SO hard but, like you said, you would never trade it. Ryan and I are in Vegas right now (oh – and you're not here!) and you should have seen us at the airport – Ryan and I with our two little bags and Will's stroller, car seat, base, pack 'n play, and his BIG bag. It's definitely not as easy to travel light anymore – but you just do it anyway and have fun on your vacations – even if people do give you weird looks 🙂

  • Good for you girl! I think we have time for what is important to us and that can be more than just your beautiful child! Congratulations on everything!

  • I think those people aren't appreciating what stage they are at right now. I'm sure being a mom is so hard at times, but life is what you make it! And you know that, because that is how you live your life. I love your outlook. You are such a cute mom.

  • sam

    AAAAAAMMMMEEEENNNNN!!! I love this post with all my heart!

  • I stop by your personal blog every now and then. We were actually in the dorms at BYU at the same time, but we didn't know each other. I knew who you were because Janssen was my history TA. So I guess this is a very belated hello 🙂

    I couldn't help but comment today. Good for you! I am glad that you are making it work.

  • What a great post! Somehow I escaped all of those negative comments with my babies, besides the ones saying "enjoy your late date nights out as a couple together now because that won't happen anymore with kids." I did hear that one and I actually found that it was true for the most part. When the kids have bedtimes and you're relying on others to babysit for you it is much harder to have late date nights. But that doesn't mean you Can't have them, if you make it a priority. And, like you said, the joy and benefits of having a baby comletely trump the ability to go out whenever you feel like it and stay out late. There's no comparison!

    Also – I have to agree with Lisa that the keeping the house thing gets much harder once the kids are mobile and actually make messes. It does get to be much more work to keep a house pefectly clean with little ones running around. But, again, that doesn't mean you Can't keep it clean if it's your priority. Some days it's a priority for me, while some days I just don't feel like sweating it so much 🙂 But, obviously, it can be done! Not as easily, but, like you said, look at the trade-off. Life definitely doesn't stay the same after having children. But isn't that why we have them? We don't go into it wanting life to stay the same!

  • You know how Dave Ramsey says if you don't tell your money what to do you'll wonder where it went? Well, it's exactly the same with time. Plan, prioritize, budget your time and you can do it, even with 4 little ones 🙂

  • such a good attitude. i really don't like it when people are negative about their kids, either.

    my least favorite – "oh, never wish for your baby to crawl – they'll be all over the place!" yes, they will. and it's so cute. like this morning when i found van eating em's cheese or the other day when he got to the watermelon (not supposed to be eating either food yet). cutest thing EVER. they're even cuter when they are "all over the place" and into everything. just makes life more fun and interesting. great post!

  • It is no use crying over spilt milk...................................................

  • Way to stay positive! I wish I had four vacations planned for 2010…

  • That picture is absolutely adorable! I remember when my nephew had no teeth, I thought there could be nothing better than his gummy smile. Then, when he grew teeth, THAT was the most gorgeous thing ever too. Your little man is wonderful!