On creativity and parenting

I was talking to a dear friend about creativity today, and she said, “It’s just a different kind of energy you use when you’re creating something, rather than caring for someone. When I’ve been caring for others all day, and I use my creative energy to make something, it creates a balance.” I couldn’t stop thinking about what she said. This is so true for me! I really love doing both, but they are distinct.

Books and Tea, by Katie Broussard

Are these two types of energy complementary? In the physical universe, energy is constant– it can be transferred from one form to another, but not created or destroyed. But what about creative energy and caring energy? There’s a bit of magic involved in the love and excitement of both of these types of energy; surely the law of conservation of energy doesn’t apply here… Can using one give you more of the other?

Here are some ways that they are complementary: One thing I’ve noticed is that the two types of energy engage different parts of my brain. In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron says that repetitive actions like cooking, scrubbing, and driving can tap into our artist brain and “feed the well” of our creativity. To that list I would add playing Uno, reading bedtime stories, and making lunches. My thinking mind wanders a bit during the task. I can think about a creative project and ideas can take hold. In what ways are my parenting/caring activities helping me be a more creative person?

And being creative makes me a better parent! I feel alive when I’ve created something, and I’m more likely to engage in a playful, creative way with my kids. In what ways are my creative pursuits making me a better parent?

Sometimes it is almost physically painful for me to make the switch from one kind of energy to the other. If I’m in the flow, especially painting or writing, and a kid interrupts me to tell me about something that happened on Octonauts, my brain literally hurts and it is so painful to unwrap my brain from this creative idea that I’m trying to follow, and tap into this other energy, caring for my son– listening to his story, smiling, sharing his excitement about loggerhead sea turtles. And I like this, too! I have a healthy respect for the majestic loggerhead sea turtle, and I love my son and want to listen to what he’s excited about. And once I’ve pulled myself away from the pen or the brush, I’m fully absorbed by the caring energy– it’s easy to get swept up in that one as well. How can I ease the transition from creative energy to caring energy?