"The point of art is to unsettle, to question, to disturb what is comfortable and safe. And that shouldn't be anyone's goal as a parent."
I understood what the writer was saying when I first read the piece -- I still do -- but I also WHOLEHEARTEDLY disagree.
As a parent, my goal has always been to guide my children through the unsettled, to raise them to QUESTION everything they feel needs questioning and to fit them with the proper emotional, philosophical and intellectual tools so that they may feel ABLE in an uncomfortable and dangerous world.
I am not here to build a wall around my child. I believe that innocence is a virtue but ignorance is not. I also believe as a parent, in the same way I do as an artist, that TRUTH is power. And the truth will never be comfortable and safe. Not in art. Not in life. Not in anything.
ED: When did parenting become a safety net of fear and delusion? Life is a collection of failures and messes -- all important to experience firsthand. And yet we CONTINUE to cut our children off from those experiences and the tolerance needed to become IMMUNE to failure/ABLE to independently succeed. Failure is far more important than success. One cannot grow from constant wins. Our children are not "valuables" to protect but human beings with developing minds, bodies and senses of self.
I bring this up today, all of these months later, because a friend (who I met through my Aunt Dot while in Ashland in the spring) sent me the following article entitled, Why Motherhood Won't Hinder Your Career as an Artist, and my ears immediately perked up:
"Motherhood did not change my identity or curtail my ambition—it only reinforced it. While it did, of course, create logistical obstacles to navigate, it also made me more efficient with my time, and more motivated. I wasn’t just working hard for myself anymore, but now for my son, too."
BAM, right? (To me this was A GIANT YES.) I am a force of creative nature BECAUSE of my children not in spite of them. They inspire me to look further into the bigger picture with more curiosity, to be more humble with criticism and to explore my independence as an EXAMPLE to them AS WELL as myself. Motherhood has also taught me what it means to be a better (more strong-willed, vulnerable and compassionate) leader.
One cannot lead without listening. One cannot be trusted without trusting. One cannot influence without being flexible to change. I was 23 when I found myself pregnant with Archer. I was ambitious before his birth, but nowhere near as much as I am 12 years and 4 children later because I have a need to provide for THEM as well as MYSELF. Financially, absolutely, but also creatively, introspectively, spiritually...
In the NY mag piece, the author doubles down on the idea that family life and art are in opposition to one another, writing:
"People make art... for exactly the opposite reason they make families. Or, as Offill writes in Dept. of Speculation, “The reason to have a home is to keep certain people in and everyone else out.” It makes perfect sense, but for a writer intent on using language to break down boundaries, explore taboos, trespass over the line of what is polite and pleasant and suitable for discussion, how could building a wall around oneself and a few select others be anything but disastrous?"And while I WHOLLY agree that an artist SHOULD ALWAYS feel intent on using language that breaks down boundaries, explores taboos, and trespasses over the line of what is polite and pleasant and suitable for discussion, I also believe that as a parent it is my job to do the same...
You can read my post in its entirety, here.