Mothering and Making, how to do both (and a handMADE giveaway)

Motherhood is a full time job. But there's never much to actually SHOW for all my work at the end of the day. The things I cleaned have been messed again. The food I prepared has been eaten. The laundry I washed has been worn.

And, as much as my full time job is keeping these children alive another day, it's somehow hard to find a whole lot of professional satisfaction in having managed it yet again.

That's why, even though my vocation is to motherhood, even though I am grateful that I am able to stay home with my children, even though I find it both rewarding and fulfilling . . . at the end of the day, it's not enough for me.

I've just GOT to make something.

Temporary tattoo design for Tattly by Jude Landry
Makers Gonna Make. We kind of have to. I have to. I get twitchy if I haven't made anything in a day or two. It could be writing, or graphic design, or sewing, or canning, or baking, or embroidery, or photography, but it's got to be something. There is nothing I find more stressful than being made to relax. Unless I can have my iPad to write or my needlework bag, then I'm good.

But striking that right balance can be tricky. My kids need me. They need my time and attention. My house and my husband need me too. If I try to do everything at once, I end up doing it all badly. And if having to carefully un-embroider the thing I've just spent the last hour embroidering is bad, well, having kids who think they are less important to me than a sewing project would be quite a bit worse.

So, in a world of multi-tasking, I compartmentalize. I have a time for everything and everything in its time. I don't blog during school hours and I don't school during blog hours. I engage with my kids during school and stories and mealtimes, and for activities and special projects we do together, then I don't fret about insisting that they leave me be and entertain themselves during little kid nap times, and on evenings when I've got a project going.

Mostly it works. Sometimes I run short of discipline or perspective, and my mothering suffers. Sometimes the nappers don't cooperate, or there is a crisis that needs my attention, and my making suffers. But I'd say that overall, I'm comfortable with the balance in my life. Of course, all of my making is pretty low stakes. If it doesn't get done, it doesn't get done.

I like this guest piece at A Knotted Life by Laura, I also like all the stuff she's ever made. All of it but especially the giant embroidered Calvin and Hobbes cartoon.

For another perspective, I asked my friend Nell of the blog Whole Parenting Family to weigh in on the subject. In addition to being a writer and photographer, she also maintains one of my favorite Etsy shops. And everything in it is dreamed up and handmade by Nell, while she wrangles three littles in her crazy awesome historic home.

All of the lovely items in this post are made and photographed by Nell.

Here's Nell's take:

I'm a mom to three little kids, ages 4 1/4 and under. As a former lawyer, my time used to be carefully allocated to briefs, memos, and other adult things that made you feel like you accomplished something. As a current stay at home mom who blogs and sews and squeezes out time on social media via the i-love-iphone, my time is spent keeping people alive. Crafting and writing drag a few of the accomplishment feelings into my present life. Without the affirmation and contact with the outside-my-moat-around-my-house world, I would shrivel up and snap.

My kids love it too. They love helping me take & edit photos. They love helping select fabrics and yarns. They even play sew along with me. It is not mutually exclusive to parenting, as my blog is a natural parenting one and my textiles and yarns for babies and children. The mundanities of motherhood are spiced up if you knit while doing them, or compose witty pithy syllogisms inside your head while slogging through them. I write after bedtime. I sew during naps. My sister or mom occasionally watches them so I can get a big retail order out the door on time. Heck, my husband loves and supports these creative outlets. I am a better wife when I'm writing, creating, dreaming, and not simply a burnt out wind bag by the late evening hours. And am better friend, too, because I have something to talk about aside from my kids. Well, almost aside from them.

And because Nell is very generous, as well as very talented, she's offering you lovely readers the chance to win $40 to spend in her Etsy shop, as party of my week of birthday giveaways!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are you on Instagram? Are you following me (@kendra_tierney)? Do YOU know #whereislulu?