The Great Juggling Act
Every day I am more than one thing at any given time. I am a mom, a design assistant and office manager, an optician, a business owner, a wife, a homemaker, and an artist. I manage the schedules of not only myself but those of my daughter and an interior designer including all the moving parts that come into play. I am incredibly fortunate to have all these bits and pieces be somewhat flexible. I am able to run to pick up my daughter from camp in the middle of the work day or work on an assignment while I am home with her for the summer but the downside is that I'm constantly two people, never getting to focus on one thing. This also means I'm bringing my daughter to my day job and setting her up with crafts and my ipad for the afternoon. It means dragging my giant bag of art supplies to work at an ity bity table, to fit painting for a deadline while I take her to lessons and sports. It means having her practice violin next to me at the computer while I layout submissions. Most of all, it means staying up every night to work while my family sleeps, foregoing my own rest to fit my dream job in. I used to cook more, clean more, work on home projects. I used to hang out and watch tv at night or make dinners that used more than 3 ingredients, but these are sacrifices that you need to make when changing directions and careers.
I have wonderful parents who enable me to work by watching my daughter. A husband who works to provide us with insurance. A daughter who is one of those incredible children who can sit and focus on a single activity for hours at a time. All of these things allow me to do what I am doing and I am grateful. I have been performing this self imposed juggling act for almost three years now and even though it is difficult I have kept myself motivated. The thing that brings it all down is when I am told I am not doing enough. I'm not a good enough mother or wife. I need to be at work more or find more hours. I need to get brand new art in overnight or when I'm lucky, two days. I am doing the best that I can but sometimes it isn't enough.
The truth is, my art business, the thing I have always dreamed of doing, is going well. Work is coming in, money is coming in, I can see the possibility of this becoming my full time income and it's so exiting. But as the workload increases in that area, and despite the attempts to reduce my involvement in others, I'm not there yet. I have never asked anyone to support me while I followed my dream, never asked that a single bill be paid, or dropped any of the things I had been responsible for before I began. What I do ask is for a little understanding rather than being told that I take on too much. I agree that it is a choice that I have too much on my plate but the only thing which is remotely optional is my art career and I just don't see that as a choice anymore.
It is hard for those around me to watch these changes. On the surface, of course everyone wants me to do well and make this switch, but the reality of what that means is much harder to support. No one likes it when you change; when the way they are used to having you isn't the same. Its hard for me too, but I have the motivation of my goals to keep me going. I wish I had a clear answer as to when things will get easier, when it will be time to put something down, but I don't. What I can see is that I'm so much further than I was at this time last year and that's a good thing. So the great juggling act continues as it does for so many artist/mother/business owners out there! I know I'm in some good company!