I’ve always had a strong driving force in me, calling me to create. As a child I loved to draw, color, make clothes for my Barbies, and build houses for my pet snails. In grade school, I always went above and beyond expectations to create unique and intricate art projects. My entrepreneurial spirit developed at an early age when I started making holiday greeting cards and bookmarks and selling them to my friends and family. I’ve always known I was an artist.
Unlike other young girls, I didn’t play with baby dolls or envision myself one day growing up to be a mother. In fact I never really pictured myself having children of my own. I wasn’t against it, but it just wasn’t something I had given a lot of thought to. But life is full of unexpected twists and turns, and here I am now – 30 years old with two gorgeous little people to call my own. Zena is almost 2 and a half now and Rafael just turned one. I am blessed each day as I experience their young lives unfold. And it is a gift to witness myself stepping into this new role called “mother”.
Although I never thought I’d be a mother, now that this is my life it generally feels quite natural. My own early childhood memories are finding their way back to the surface and there is a familiarity to the day to day interactions with my children. Changing diapers gives me a strange sense of déjà vu as I flash back to being a baby myself. Nursing, feeding, and bathing my little ones all feels like it is ingrained in my DNA, despite my lack of preparation for this stage of my life. And that thing they call “motherly love” – that unconditional, deep, warm and nurturing sea of love… it is a real thing. It explodes into existence at the moment that little baby pops out into the world. I love them so much.
I am beginning to get into the groove with this motherhood thing now. And it’s become glaringly obvious that my impulse as an artist has not subsided. There is still a burning in me that yearns to create, to make with my hands, to express with line and color, to bring my internal visions to life for others to see. I wonder if it is too soon, if I am being selfish, if I should simply focus on the children and put my other projects on the backburner until they are older. Or is it actually detrimental to all of us if I stifle my passions? I want my kids to learn how to live fully and follow their dreams. So I need to embody that and be their role model. It is a delicate balance. Of course I don’t wish to neglect my children. I want to give them the greatest care and attention they need. I also want to pursue my creative calling. I believe it doesn’t have to be either/or. I believe with patience and care I can do both!
Last spring, when Zena was one and a half and Rafael was just three months old, I was invited to be a part of one of the most exciting creative projects of my life. Anne Key & Veronica Iglesias asked me to be the illustrator of The Jade Oracle Deck: Deities & Symbols of Ancient Mexico. They needed 52 original drawings based on Aztec mythology, culture and history. I knew this project was meant to be for me. I had spent my university years studying Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Art & Art History and had a deep fascination and love for the culture already. And I had always wanted to make a tarot or oracle deck. Coincidentally, I was already working on a painting of the Aztec goddess Tonantzin “The Great Mother”.
The invitation was too good to be true and I just couldn’t turn it down. Part of me was worried though. How would I do it? How would I find the time when I have these babies on me 24/7? Could I really pull this off? But the creative spark had ignited and was rapidly catching fire. The excitement bubbled inside of me as I thought about the project and I was bursting with great ideas for how to make it work. I felt that if I declined the opportunity or asked to postpone it until my life would be a better fit…. I’d miss the chance. The wave of inspiration would pass, the spark would die out, it would be hard to pick back up again months or years later. For me, that creative wave comes once and I have to grab it and ride it out. So I went for it!
Thankfully, we completed the project. It took about 7 challenging months to fully manifest the deck and it came out beautifully. It nearly took everything out
of me, but I don’t regret it for a minute. Each day I nursed, changed diapers, cooked, cleaned and snuggled with my babies all day, and I worked almost every night while they slept from about 10pm to 1am. I hardly slept, but that’s sort of how it is in the first years of parenting anyway. Bit by bit, I chipped away at this creation and gradually it came into being. Looking back, I am blown away that The Jade Oracle deck actually manifested and my kiddos are still healthy and happy.
In summary, I feel there are three pieces of advice I have for others who are following their passions while balancing family life.
First, family comes first. The basic needs, love and affection of your loved ones are truly the most important. But there are many hours in the day, days in the week and weeks in the year. There is time for more if you are feeling called to do more.
My second piece of advice is to grab the wave of inspiration when it comes! When opportunity knocks, don’t be afraid to answer the call. There is always a way to make it work. Follow that spark of inspiration and see where it leads you.
My third suggestion is to maintain momentum. Even if you can only spare 15 minutes per day to work on your dream project, do it! Keep the ball rolling. You’d be surprised over time how much you can accomplish by piecing it together in small increments. So keep moving forward, and you will get there! And it will be so rewarding.
Working on The Jade Oracle has been one of the most deeply fulfilling experiences of my life. I thrive off of creative collaboration and I’m so glad that I allowed myself to follow that calling. Whatever your calling is, I hope you will follow yours too!