Book: The Rainbow Way
Happy New Year dear reader! May 2021 contain flourishing creativity and practices which bring you comfort and delight, in whatever form(s) that takes for you.
I will be sharing some of the things I intend to do with the (VERY!) blank slate that is this year – albeit working within a constantly changing landscape, not least of the children’s education… – but for today, I wanted to let you in on a rather delicious secret I’ve been bubbling on these past few weeks.
Part of the reason I’ve not shared is because I’ve been nose deep enjoying it, and another part is because I can’t imagine my words will do it anywhere near the justice it deserves.
But, given the topic matter, I am putting fingers to keyboard, letting it flow, and trusting that these are the right words for it.
A couple of weeks ago, a girlfriend shared a link to an article citing a book, ‘The Rainbow Way’ by Lucy H. Pearce.
The book has led to a whopping shift in perspective.
The topic? Motherhood and Creativity.
We’re all familiar with the concept of the ‘Earth Mother’. Many mothers try in vain to align themselves with this figure. Whilst I’ve always been fairly clear that I didn’t identify with what an Earth Mother seemed to be about, I had not found a suitable alternative ‘role model’. So I’ve been making up my own (onlookers to my parenting journey might agree, for better or worse…!).
But it turns out there are definitions out there that do resonate, and it was a joy to discover that The Rainbow Way explores an alternative mother archetype: The Creative Rainbow Mother.
Since having my first baby five years ago, I’ve reached for (some might say perilously!) few ‘parenting’ books, trusting and hoping instead that my intuition will guide me. Alongside my parenting, this same approach of listening to my gut has led me to be fiercely protective of my time outside of mothering – both as a woman and as a creative – very much believing that ‘happy mum = happy baby’. Generally, that approach has proven true.
What is encouraging is that, unwittingly, I have lived true to much of the advice within these pages (although, also of comfort, there is plenty more yet to learn from): I ask for time out, I claim little pockets of time (2-3 nights) for retreats, I ask (and sometimes pay) for help when needed and I have done two, week long courses (one art, one business) supported by either family or childcare. All of this has been with a view to working to building this new path as children’s author/illustrator and print designer. Deep down I’ve felt that nourishing that part of myself, and time alone, is crucial to allow me to be the best mother I can be.
But – and this is something I have found somewhat frustrating – many times I have felt guilt at how fiercely I’ve guarded this time to myself.
On the flip side, there have also been the times, like this summer, when motherhood has become necessarily all-consuming. When the boys’ needs have dominated almost 24/7, and I’ve struggled to carve out any time or, crucially, energy, let alone then expecting to tap into art and creativity. In fact, this is what I am working on currently, the more recent learning of the art of rest – a novelty!
It is during these busier and more fraught feeling times that I notice anger and resentment are much more likely to build. I become like a caged tiger. This book gives the tiger I turn into a name: ‘Crazy Woman’ (hallelujah, I’m not alone!).
We’ve recently come through a stint of sleep deprivation between August-November which was the perfect recipe for the Crazy Woman’s appearance: late, hellish bedtimes, multiple night wake ups, early wake ups, no naps – a relentless, thankless, awful treadmill. It was one of many phases we now, fingers crossed, seem to have mostly got through. During this time I had precious little bandwidth for creativity (although this was when the poetry really came into its own to express feelings within MICRO pockets of time!).
Part of the anger I have felt historically has been at myself for not feeling satisfied with ‘just’ – and I do not use that word lightly – being a mother. The reality is that, whilst I wasn’t exactly ignoring my needs (I was only too painfully aware they were there) in favour of only looking after the boys’, it was seriously challenging to expect too much more of myself beyond mumming. But the result was that I lost sight of myself for a few months.
The Rainbow Way has given a name to another way of being, supporting me to grant myself the permission to tend to these needs: to write, to paint, to dance, to retreat, to take time out. 2020 has been a useful companion, creating life-altering shifts to a sometimes overly hurried life. Like many, I’m sure, I’ve been forced to slow down and do less, and both work and mothering have flourished as result.
You will enjoy The Rainbow Way if, like me, you have creative impulses and are struggling with the tension between creative you and mother you. If you need to give yourself permission to honour these impulses. And if, just possibly, you would benefit from a little hand-holding and encouragement along the way.
I hope you enjoy it even half as much as I did.
With much love,