Finding time to create
BOOKS | Book encourages artistic moms not to neglect talents
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Artsy moms will resonate with blogger-turned-author Ashlee Gadd as she fantasizes: “All I need is a room of my own with soundproof walls, cold brew coffee on tap, and hours and hours of affordable childcare. Is that really too much to ask?”
Who are we kidding? Almost any mom will resonate with that. But this book is for the creatives. Create Anyway: The Joy of Pursuing Creativity in the Margins of Motherhood (Bethany House 2023) bills itself as a permission slip to mothers to do what the title suggests. Create anyway. Even if you have to leave dishes in the sink and eat cereal for dinner to do it.
Gadd’s injunctions call to mind Edith Schaeffer’s still-beloved The Hidden Art of Homemaking. But Gadd’s, of course, is creativity for another age—for moms who may have blogs, Etsy shops, side hustles, followers. Or they may have naught but the itch to make things. Create Anyway is part memoir, part devotional, part advice, and light enough to read while chasing a 3-year-old through a playground.
Still, it draws some insightful parallels between motherhood and the art life: Artists and mothers can find relief for impostor syndrome in God’s calling and by faith take the many risks required both to practice art and to live as moms. “God loves His children; therefore, we love ours,” Gadd writes. “God created; therefore, we create.” Feeling rivalrous in your art? Don’t, Gadd urges. Don’t be the child at the picnic worried you won’t get enough. God has “put out more than enough crackers and strawberries for all of His kids.”
Yet creative work is … work. You have to get up at 5 a.m., Gadd warns, and do the writing, or baking, or sculpting, or whatever. Others can offer support, but as in giving birth, “we are the only ones who can push.” When there are rugs to vacuum, babies to bathe, lunches to pack—can a mother really afford an afternoon at the easel, sewing machine, or keyboard? Gadd says she can, and must.
Create Anyway will find a comfortable audience with a new mom just starting down the creative path or taking it up again postpartum. For the seasoned artist, some advice may come off tired or feel more sermonic than inspiring. But it could invigorate women used to viewing their role as one mainly of utility. To the tired and the empty Gadd counsels, “Give yourself permission to seek out beauty, to feast on it for a while.”
No, there won’t be unlimited cold brew. But there will be “co-creating with God” and personal growth we can pass along to our kids.