On chasing your curiosity, motherhood and creativity
You know that expression, about how if you haven’t seen a friend for a few days you’re bursting with news but if you haven’t seen them for months you’ve nothing to tell them? This blog feels a little like that.
I was chatting to Ben recently about how much I miss blogging, miss this little corner of the internet that’s mine to muse, noodle and potter in. Instagram Stories are lovely, but I feel like it’s the difference between jotting something down on a post it and writing in a journal; the former is quickly lost, forgotten, discarded.
I was trying to untangle why exactly I haven’t been posting as much since having Ari. Sure, there’s lack of time – will there ever be enough time, with a toddler to feed, play with, nap and clean and support? – but it’s more than that.
This space has always been about chasing my curiosity. It started, many moons ago, as a photo blog back when I was a hobbyist with a shiny new dSLR. That went on to become my career. It continued with a love for interiors and homewares, which helped me land a job at the beautiful Image Interiors & Living, where I became editor a few years later.
My mantra for blogging and for work was always the same – do I find this interesting? If the answer was yes, I enjoyed going down these rabbit holes and sharing what I had learned. I have a post-it that’s been stuck to every computer I have worked on since my days at KISS mag, and it’s a quote from the late, great Professor Aidan Moran, a psychology lecturer I had in college at UCD who I was lucky enough to interview for a feature about career advice some years later. He said (and I badly paraphrase): “Don’t ask yourself ‘Am I smart enough?’, ask yourself, ‘Am I interested enough?'” I used this as a litmus test when thinking about making dramatic job changes – whether it was leaving a dream job editing a teen mag to join an interiors title despite massive imposter syndrome, or joining a start up, a software dev studio, a tech company.
I also used it as encouragement whenever I got blogger’s imposter syndrome over the years. Who was I to be blogging about interiors back in 2011, when I had zero qualifications? About photography when I still couldn’t figure out white balance? It made me realise it was enough to just share what I had learned, what I curious about it.
Which brings me to now. Since having Ari, I have wandered down a many a fascinating parenting rabbit hole. I have explored and read deeply about calm parenting, simplicity parenting, Montessori, Waldorf, forest schools, and a whole host of other topics that I found eye-opening and enjoyable to learn about. It ticked the curiosity box. But I was really reluctant to post about all of it here, and left literally dozens of posts languishing in drafts. Why? Because parenting is so personal. So open to debate, so full of sensitive subjects. There are so many opinions out there already. I hated the thought of anyone reading a post of mine and feeling judged for their choices, just as much as I hated the idea of receiving judgment for my choices. How you choose to parent is such a deeply personal decision.
It also didn’t feel entirely fair to our family, to Ben and to Ari, to be exploring these topics so publicly. While my love of mid century furniture is a passion of mine Ben happily indulges, it felt different to openly discuss parenting decisions and how they affected the tiny, brilliant human we share a life with. It felt kind of raw, sensitive.
And of course, I could always share other things. But having a baby was such a huge blow to my creativity and productivity, I often felt there was little else to share. I second guessed myself a lot. I felt angry, and bitter about the time I was “losing”, feeling ugly envy well up whenever I saw peers moving ahead, accomplishing wonderful things. And yet I felt equally protective of this time with Ari, who was changing at lightning speed, and resented pressure to “get back to normal” when I had no clue what our new normal was. I felt like a spinning compass, unsure as to what direction I wanted to go in.
It threw everything up in the air and, only now that Ari is two, and the baby fog has lifted somewhat, do I feel the dust is settling and I see some kid of a path forward. A way of exploring without feeling I’m sharing more than is mine to share. Shoots of other interests. New ideas, new questions, new values.
I’d love for this post to coincide with a fancy new blog design, but 5am toddler wake up calls do not lend themselves kindly to long nights spent making blog theme tweaks, so that’ll have to wait.
If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking around.
Both pics by Ben, from a batch of film we recently got developed.