Artist Temperment

The other day, I got out my toolbox full of gel pens, markers, colored and non-colored pencils and let M go to town in a notebook while I sat nearby with my long-running altered book.

The good news is that I have a longer attention span than a nearly-three-year-old. This is as it should be.

The bad news is that I get so obsessed with whatever project I happen to be working on that my son comes crawling up on my lap mewling like a newborn baby asking for “mommy milk” just because he’s tired of drawing and wants some good old fashioned interaction, and for whatever reason, I just can’t seem to put my pencil down.

This is why my art has lapsed. Because I don’t have days to devote to it anymore. I get the ideas in my head and I have to see them play out to the end as soon as they start coming together. It is beyond difficult to tear myself away from a creative work-in-progress no matter how adorable and sweet the enticement to do something else.

My son is a definite priority. But lately, I have felt the muse come calling again. And it’s hard to keep her penned into nap and post-bedtime appointment slots. I hate the feeling I get when M makes it obvious to me that he needs a level of companionship that I have not been providing, regardless of whether it’s been for five minutes or the better part of an afternoon. Perhaps this is one argument in favor of preschool. The extra few hours a week of freedom to follow that muse.

It takes tremendous effort to put down a book in mid-chapter when a high little voice finally reaches the point where “stop reading” needs to be commanded. It takes at least three times as much effort to put down a project I’ve been working through just when it’s picked up some good momentum.

Because I work out of the house almost thirty hours a week now, my time at home needs to be focused on home things. The boy. The laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, etc. We go to play dates and walk to the park and fill in the rest of the time with fun: using the black hose on the back porch, building castles in the pillows, rolling play-doh snakes, baking cookies, etc.

I would love to sit next to my son, creating. Working separately but sharing a moment, or an hour or more. But I have to keep in mind that we’re not there yet. He still needs supervision, but more, he needs my attention. And I need to put my pencil down, even in mid stroke, and provide. Because that’s my job. And it usually turns out to be time well spent.

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