Lately, Butterbean, my 18-month old daughter, has been toddling around the house clutching crayons in her tiny fists, yelling at the top of her lungs, “draw! draw! draw!”. She grabs my hand, pulls me to the cardboard box we cut up for her to draw on on the floor, then shoves a crayon in my hand, and commands me to “co!” (color), as she starts scribbling.
When I’m working on my computer, she’ll bang on the door to my studio saying, “mum, mum,” until I open the door. She then runs past me, climbs into my chair, grabs the Apple pencil and—so excited by then she’s practically panting”—points to the iPad shouting, “draw, draw!” until I set her up with a blank document in Procreate.
If we’re outside, she runs full-speed to the front porch shouting, “chalk! chalk!” and then becomes engrossed in decorating the driveway with bright colors.
As you can imagine, I am delighted by all of this.
I’ll be real—I have a hard time balancing art, work, and parenting. I feel this deep, visceral need to be around Butterbean. But I also know, intellectually, that it’s important for parents to continue to have passions, interests, and time away from their children. For me and her.
And you know… there’s also that money thing, too.
Becoming a mom has changed me in many ways. I think about it a lot, but I haven’t been able to formulate it all into cohesive thoughts and words yet.
But the one thing I know for sure, is that Butterbean reminds me every day to just enjoy things.
She reminds me to look up at the planes flying in the sky, look down at rocks glittering in the driveway, get dirty and sandy in the sandbox, and stop everything to listen to the birds signing in the trees. She is so aware of everything.
And she is always in the present moment. She is overjoyed when eating a box of raisins and thrilled when coloring with cheap, broken crayons on a piece of cardboard.
I am, career-wise, in the midst of making one big, final push to try to make this all work. Some days, I get so overwhelmed with the pressure and the hustle and the feeling that I’m always at the bottom of a very steep hill.
It’s so easy to get swept up in the chaos of what needs to be done—looming deadlines, endless streams of emails, infinite requests to respond to and problems to solve—that I begin to wonder… what’s the point of it all? Why am I doing this?
And somehow at that moment, as I’m on the cusp of quitting, Butterbean appears next to me, looking up at me with her big eyes full of hope, half-whispering “mum”, as she holds a crayon up in the air.
Experiencing drawing through the eyes of my child reminds me why I do any of this at all.I do it becauseI believe in the power of art. The importance of personal expression. The child-like joy that drawing brings to my life. And that maybe, just maybe, I can help other people rediscover that joy in their life too.
Butterbean reminds me to pause and zoom out. To pull my head out of the future and come back to the present moment. To remember how truly lucky I am, right now.
I struggle with things, of course. We all do. There will always be more hills to climb.
But Butterbean reminds me, again and again, that life is good. That today is a beautiful day and we should enjoy it. And that, right now, it would be so lovely to just draw.