Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Problem with New Years Resolutions: A Parents Manifesto

Are these slurpee drinking hoodlums killing creativity?
Like all of you, I started this new year off with a list of resolutions. I don't know what it is about this time of year that makes us, collectively as humanity, want to reboot our lives and start over. But we do it, even though we know by about January 10th, half of those resolutions will have fallen by the wayside.

I won't bore you with my resolutions - they were probably the same as yours. And they have gone OK. Some better than others. I think the real problem is that as a parent it feels impossible to make any positive changes in your life because all of your positivity and power for change gets funneled into helping your kids. And then when they are in bed all your change energy has been used up and you just want to sit on the couch and eat pretzel sticks dipped into cookie butter and watch Nashville. Amirite?

I read an awesome book this year called The Family Fang (and is currently available for Kindle for $2.99 - so why don't you just go buy it already?) Its basically the story of a family of performance artists. The parents, Caleb and Camille, use their children in their elaborate performance art pieces. But now the kids are grown up and are dealing with what growing up as a public spectacle meant. One of the themes that runs through the book is something that a friend of Caleb and Camille tells them when they have kids -- "Kids kill art." He thinks that once they have children, their art will suffer.

So, is that true? True life example: One of my resolutions is about writing more. And every day I say to myself, "Today is the day! When my wife goes to the gym and the kids are in bed I am going to sit down and bang out 1000 words in my novel!" And then my wife heads the the gym, and I (finally) get the kids to bed and either I had to scream and yell to get anyone to brush their teeth and I am too grumpy to write or I am just tired and there is a new episode of the Biggest Loser on and so I just watch that instead.

When I was in college and taking creative writing classes, I did a lot of writing. I wrote short stories and poetry like it was going out of style (my poetry probably was.) And it was great. And despite all of my best efforts to write more (I'm pretty sure it was my 2012 resolution too.) my production has slowed to a trickle.

So, whats a creative parent to do? I know there are people who read this blog who are painters or writers or videographers or photographers or print makers or whatever. So how do you find the time and the energy to stay creative when your children take everything you've got.  Parents of older kids: does it get better? Or do I just need to power through and find ways to be creative now?

Even this blog post (which is hardly high art) has taken me an hour to write because I am dealing with a toddler with the flu who just called me down to the bedroom screaming like she was dying because Mikey Mouse's blanket fell off. Now where did I put that cookie butter?
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