My friend Jane, a fellow blogger in Ireland, wrote recently that she felt a feeling of Unutterable Fulfillment. She pushed through the Winter, writing at all hours of early morning and late night, while still being a mother and caretaker to her loved ones, and wrote the novel she’d always wanted to write. For real. She says she’s now feeling such an immense sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that her life feels really really good. She’s experiencing the joy of fulfilling her needs of being a good mother and an expressed creative.

I know this feeling and it’s the high no drug can recreate. The immense satisfaction and self-esteem resulting from an accomplishment earned. The setting of a goal and then reaching it. For a creative, that means everything. A melding of one’s inspiration and vision with the real world to produce something to share. It’s a truthful and soul satisfying.

Fulfilling Your Needs on

In the same week, another friend of mine and inspirational creative, Sandra, explained that she felt judged and shamed by someone for the way she divides her time between being a creative and a mother. That to focus on one is to shortchange the other. As if there’s a choice. You must do both as best you can. I pointed out that our sensitivity to this subject may be a “thing” causing our knee jerk defensiveness.

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There’s an unspoken societal judgment of mothers that says, to be a good mother, you need to focus solely on mothering. That to attempt to do anything else is selfish or wrong. And, it would seem, in the professional world, the opposite is a pressure point too. That to be a professional, you can’t be distracted with becoming a mother. This must be the Mother wars I’ve heard alluded to but never paid attention to.

I feel it. She felt it. And when I’ve queried other women, they feel it. In my interview with Suzonne Stirling, she suggests that there’s more than a bit of outside help needed to make it all happen at once. I agree that super Moms are such because they know how to delegate to super create and super mother simultaneously. Christine Burke of the Keeper of the Fruit Loops blog published a post yesterday called Selfish Mom. Her cheeky title hides the excellent job she does in calling out the martyr mothers for their lack of permission to take care of themselves. She says, “The worlds will not end if you put yourself first once in a while”. And with creatives, I feel it can be even harder.

Where does this either/or notion come from? What purpose does it serve? Because, in order to feel really good about myself, I need to have creative outlets and expressions and accomplishments. And when I feel good, I’m a better Mom. When I don’t, I’m a crappy Mom. Simple enough. If you have time, read this article I wrote called the Needs of the Many and the Needs of You. There’s a shocking moment in the Giant grocery store bathroom that brought the point home. Don’t recognize your needs and you’ll ooze your unhappiness on everyone around you.

From Two Plus Two Equals Happy on

So I am declaring a war on this theme of thought, although not on the people thinking it. Shades of grey are everywhere and humanity needs to be more tolerant of differences. And I’ll keep talking with other women about what this means
to them and we’ll see what that unearths. Are we fulfilling our needs or waiting for someone to give us permission to be able to even have needs? What are we teaching our children when we stifle the very activities that make us alive and in love with ourselves?

There is a nobility and miraculousness of keeping a house and creatively living the life within. And more and more, I want to live in that place in my soul. My friend Jane lives there in Ireland. I try to do so in America. And I’d venture to say that there are women all over the world trying to live their dual lives as well. If only we all gave ourselves permission to do so.


  1. Beautiful post, Shalagh. I watched my mother be a martyr most of my life. She didn’t start living for herself until she got divorced. But whatever the underlying reasons, I always told myself to not give up on the things that are important to me. Still it’s a tough balancing act. Keep up the great creative work!

    • Thank you so very much Amy and I know you know what I’m talking about. Glad your mother moved on eventually. Ish. And it is hard as heck to rewrite what we’ve learned from them. I struggle every day with entitlement issues. But my smart gut tells me to keep talking it and keep walking it. And I’m glad to not be here alone.

  2. Great post. That’s me too. Trying to work out how I can fit in painting and excercising around full time work and a two year old….. Our society remade for working women failed to pick up on the requirements for extended family and extra support that women need if they are to manage it all.

    • Thank you so much Andrea. Yes, in the end we still are so plugged in to the tiniest workings of a details of the family machine that we need to acknowledge that amazing gift we give and get from the Mothers and then offer and ask for whatever assistance is necessary to help that continue that and express their own personal talents and fulfill their creative desires as well. This and that not this or that. You’ll get a crappy “that” if Mama’s not happy.
      Love Ya’,

  3. Melissa Irlandez Reply

    The age old – since 1960’s , dilemma . Every mother figures out a way for herself- without nailing herself to the cross. Have a fantastic time this weekend!!

    • Thanks Melissa. I think it’s been going a long long time, this internal back and forth. Knowing you are allowed to have everything that makes you happy and that you don’t have to make a choice. That’s the real beginning. And yes, nothing really good comes from Martyrdom.
      Love you much,

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