Tuesday, June 20, 2006

the old dilemma

The dilemma, it's so old and timeworn, it's such a hand-me-down. I've just grown into it, and I'm trying it on for the first time. I can't even believe I'm wearing it. You see ten thousand people parading by wearing gauchos, and they're all tearing their hair out and pulling at their legs going, "I can't believe I'm wearing these gauchos!" And you're like, yeah, yeah, the gauchos thing. And then you look down and you also have them on. And then you start doing the fucking macarena. I'm talking about the thing with the identity crisis with becoming a mother and figuring out how and when and if and where I'm still an artist.

Oh, man. See, I'm a part of this theatre company. I have been for ten years, with a tiny break in the middle. I just got a very sweet email from my friend who is the artistic director, which was in the gentlest of terms telling me not to disappear, since I'd not been to a meeting or even replied to the announcement of a meeting (!!!) since Finn's birth. I felt awful, totally distraught at not replying, and apologized to everyone forthwith.

I mostly didn't reply because I have my head up my ass - or rather, up my baby's ass. But I also a little bit didn't reply because I...don't feel like an artist right now. I feel like a fake artist. Like I'm carrying an old artist identification card and hoping I can still swing it.

I'm wiping baby puke out of my bra as I write this.

Here's my fear. I'm afraid that something is going to wither - my abilities, my confidence, my energy. I'm afraid that fear will wither the impetus to be creative in a public forum.

It's on the books that I'm going to do a solo show under the auspices of the company, the centerpiece of which is a story I've told on this blog. I've written good chunks of it. I've never done one before. It feels scary and ballsy. And I'm having trouble locating my artistic balls at the moment. Also, suckily, a way more famous and experienced solo artist person is going to be doing a show here in Seattle, and a large bit of the show is set in the same milieu as my show. I don't want my first experience with a solo show to be like:

If you like Giorgiotm, you'll love PRIMO!tm


If you liked Howard's End, you'll love *Enchanted April*!

Yeah. If you liked _________'s show, you'll wonder why Tina did her show.

I was weeping this morning and talking to Dave about my fears, and he was very concerned, and said I needed to make time regularly to work on art-related things, so that part won't wither. Then I cried even more. Where is the energy going to come from?

I have the energy to blog, because it can be anything or nothing, and it can just be honestly whatever.

I love art. I love acting. I love being on stage, I feel alive and alert there. Keen, like an animal. I love writing.

Who the hell am I? What's it going to look like?

I don't want Finn to have a mom that's like, "Wow, must be NICE, getting to FULFILL yourself like that. Live it up, sucker."

I realize it's only been eight and a half weeks. I guess I can take a moment to adjust to motherhood before fulfilling all my artistic aspirations. But it makes me nervous. It all makes me nervous.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm. My dear friend struggled with this after the birth of her son (the day after my daughter was born in 2000) and continues to struggle with it to this day.

You have not disappeared. You are still there--all of the unique bits that float around in your brain are still there. Two things are happening right now, though.

First, a whole new chunk of your brain has opened up and it's wired directly into your heart and your gut and it'll calm itself eventually. Right now, it's probably taken over just so you can survive on less sleep, with a flobbly stomach (is your belly still flobbly? if it's not, let me just say this: bitch) and puke in your bra and still feel like giving your sweet boy a smooch. This is called the parent chunk.

Second, you're physically healing and you're sleep deprived. You're catering to another human's every single need at any hour or minute he needs you. Sweet and all, but also: misery walking, man. It's why the first thing is so big--it helps even things out.

Boy, I am strange, lame and overcaffeinated. Your one man show will go on. I promise. "You" are not gone. You're just busy.

DL said...

First off let me say sweet Tina, that if you give me your number , i will call you every day and ask you if that show is ready yet ?
***so excited by that oh my god ****
so , yeah, don't give me your number.
second of , i really like what the nice lady above me said and though i don't know shit about motherhood, i know she is right. I can feel it.
You're never *not* going to be an artist, because that's who you are.
So there.

And Dave is there. You have Dave ! He can take care of the little one when the little one isn't taking all your breast energy and it's going to be fabulous. Because you'll be a mom and an artist and then you'll be like one of these people I look at and say : if she did it, I can do it too !
Like Meryl Streep.


l. said...

i'm wondering where my artist card is at the minute, too, except without the significant baby gauchos.

here is what i think: it's going to come out, and you're going to find your way, and you won't know how until you do it, but it's going to come out. it's going to come out and you're not going to let anyone down.

my solo show was ridiculous scary. deadlines helped, but being easier with myself helped more. one sort of cheating thing: it doesn't matter if you don't write it perfect, or even if you don't write it *good*. because i promise that what comes out, after a few drafts, if you get to say it yourself exactly how you mean it, is going to move people. becuase it's the story and you get to say it. and then there's time to make it perfect later for the broadway extension.

i just did five hours of reading for class and had a shot and a half of bourbon. this may be maudlin.

Anonymous said...

Little note from Pants. I know you can do it if you want to and it will happen when it is ready to. Sooooo much stuff is going on that it is unfair to yourself to put the "I am no longer an artist" worries on top of it all. You are hilarious and brilliant. And in regards to said performance artist doing said show-she is great but she ain't you. There are only so many themes in the world. And what you have to say is so unique to you and so hilarious in a "not that other solo artist" way.
Make the time that you need to make. Or take the time that you need to take.
PDT is not going anywhere.

Anonymous said...

There are a couple of ways you can look at this, (1) that you are now a "fake" creative person, or (2) that you were ALWAYS a fake creative person, until now.

Making and nurturing a child the the most genuine creative process in humanity. Every other creative endeavor is an imitation of the true creative process.

All of your creative energies are singularly focussed right now. That will not last forever. Treasure it while it does. When it is done it is never to be had again in this entire incarnation. Even if you have more kids, it will never be quite likethis.

My midwife showed me kirilian (energy field) photographs of women who have just birthed a child, and of the child. It turns out that for the about the first nine months of the infant's life, there is an unusual energy field extention off of the mother's ring finger that matches and connects with the child's energy field.

My son is 8 months old, now crawling, and suddenly truly aware of the world beyond ME, and I understand why the energy field begins to separate when it does.

I find it interesting that the child's crawling, the severing of this energy field, and the first bought of separation anxiety all happens at the same time.

And at the same time, I am becoming "myself" again.

You will too, and trust me, it will be bitter sweet. Don't worry and rush the inevitable.

Boliath said...

You know I think the truth is that you're not "you" anymore. You are a new you a whole new you that has birthed a child, been a Mom, learned that there is something other than the self that is just as, if not more, important. It makes for a deeper you, perhaps more creative, perhaps not, different certainly.

The energy? It does come back, differently of course, my son is 19 months old and I feel like I have been exhausted since his birth but in some ways I have more energy, energy to play, to imagine, to dream, to get down on the floor and stack legos and then knock them down. Finn is such a little mite he needs all of you now so maybe there isn't anything left for your other art but he is probably the most valuable and priceless work of art you will ever work on.

I know it's easy to say from afar but the energy you are expending now will return to you two-fold, nay three-fold, nay 5 million-fold in a few short months when, as a previous commenter mentioned, your little boy moves slightly beyond the motherbaby unit and you have time and space to appreciate the new beings in your world, the Mother, the Baby, the Daddy, the Family. It's an enormous transition not easy on anyone but easier I've found, if it is embraced and appreciated.

I do hear you though and I wonder where "I" went, I wonder what I used to do before baby came, what filled all of that empty time and I don't know the answer but I need to find it, just as my son has found his feet and is moving further away from me each day, I need to fill the void he is leaving behind.

Good luck on your journey and warm wishes for a comfortable transition.

Kris McN said...

Argh! I just composed this long comment where I draw parallels between your experience as a new-mom artist and my experience as a new-mom scientist, but then my machine crashed (probably because of the science I'm doing on it!!) and I lost all of it. The main points were:

You're on maternity leave.
You have something more interesting going on at the moment.
Do yourself a favor, cut yourself some slack and let yourself just being in the new Finnness without guilt or panic.
When it's time to focus on your art again, you will. Believe it.

Or something like that.

Reb and Heidi said...


Please give me the dates so I can book my flight and buy my tickets now. There is no prospective show in this universe that excites me more. I have been waiting ten years for this moment.

hpmelon said...

Like everthying with parenting and children, you will have your worries, and in the end the time will come when you are ready. At least that is how it happened for me. It was a time when the guilt of leaving my children was overtaken by the need to take a break and work on my artist self. It came when I knew I could not be a good mother without embracing the stage again.

I daresay you will know when you are ready to let Finn have a sitter, when to start solids, when to wean, when to help him sit up, or stand, or walk. You will know because he will know. Not to say that each of those steps doesn't just break your heart and make you leap for joy at the same time, but you are going to move along together all the same.

There will be a time when you will happily say to Finn "Mama has rehearsal". I thought I would never get there again, but I did. It happened when I took myself off the timetable for when it should happen, and stopped berating myself or worrying myself for not getting it going.

Break a leg!

la Ketch said...

Follow the fear! Do the show. Nervousness = good art.