Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Empty headed

I've had a lot on my mind lately, but I don't seem to have the confidence or ability to articulate it all. Teaching and working at the studio has been constantly humbling for me, as I learn and relearn my limitations, and try to find a balance between feeling confident in my abilities, and staying open to growth and change. I'm not sure how much of that makes sense - it feels awkwardly worded. What I'm trying to say, is that I've been waffling between being proud of the progress I've made, and my abilities as a teacher, and feeling inadequate and terribly unsure of myself. I know that as long as I keep working at learning, and sharing that knowledge with others as well as I can, I can only improve as a teacher and a maker. But I'm impatient, and I want to be good at everything RIGHT NOW. And I worry that my students aren't getting everything they want or need from my classes. Sometimes I think that someone with a lot more experience should be doing my job, but I'd never want to give it up. I get so much out of it, and it pushes me constantly. I just hope I'm doing ok. Every time a student loses a piece due to cracking or glazing because I failed to articulate an important step in the process, I feel terrible. I try to keep in mind all the things I learned from my teachers, and the things they said and did that stuck with me and were the most helpful, but I space out sometimes. It's not always easy to explain what I'm doing step by step so others will understand. Teaching is certainly not easy. Articulation. Communication. How can I be better at these skills?

I've been thinking about Maddy a lot, and how big she's getting, and how I sometimes take it for granted. All I can think about is my work, and how to get to where I can make a living at it. In a round about way, I worry about this because I want to make a good life for my child. But I also know that my desire to do my work uninterrupted is a little selfish - I miss the copious amounts of free time I used to have and waste, and it will be years before I have that kind of time again. I haven't yet really embraced my new role as a mother. I'm still immature, and having trouble letting go of the image of the person I used to be, or wanted to be. Meanwhile, this gorgeous little person is toddling around in front of me, learning to talk and clap and stand on her own, and she watches me all the time. I need to be aware of what she learns from me. What am I teaching her with this selfish obsession with being successful, being recognized? With my subconscious disdain for day to day tasks because I could be doing more lofty, important things like art-making? Shouldn't caring for her, for my family, be just as important, if not more so? I feel so guilty for having these feelings, and for not fully embracing this new role in my life. 

This is a pretty heavy blog post, and I apologize. I just needed to clear my muddled brain a bit.

Currently reading a book by bell hooks called Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. It's incredibly eye opening. As I said on Facebook earlier today, it makes me realize how spoiled and privileged I am, and how much I take for granted. I only wish I'd discovered her work sooner. I've been reading a lot of feminist theory, but so much of it is written from a white woman's perspective, and other experiences are completely ignored. It's giving me a lot to think about.  


Candice Hartsough McDonald said...

Your problem with Maddy/free time/art making you described sounds exactly like me. It's good to know we aren't the only ones struggling with these feelings.

Lucy Fagella said...

I happened upon your blog through my visitors page on my blog, thanks for linking.
I read your post and all I could think was, wow I was there 16 years ago at age 31. I just had my first child, was teaching ceramics, was doubting everything I did. It's all normal, and will make you a better teacher and artist in the long run. You will work much harder in the times that you can, you will become more efficient in your work, you will become a better teacher because you have the desire to.
My sons are now 16 and 14, one just got his license, and I don't see him nearly as much as I would like to, between sports, a job and lots of homework to get into a good college in a year and a half. The other is always busy too with sports and chorus, and homework.
What you are doing now with your little one is so important! So be empty headed, and be there as much as you can, cause they really do grow up quick.
I gave up a few years of pottery, I kept teaching part time, but didn't get into full time pottery until my youngest was 4 in preschool. It was very hard at the time, but I always had ideas flowing in my "empty mommy head"!
BTW I love your banner on your blog, really nice brushwork!

Lori Leaumont said...

Candice - Thanks for chiming in. It does feel good to know that other artists with little ones feel the same way.

Lucy - Thank you again for taking the time to comment. You are right - it does make you use your time more wisely and more efficiently. I have to say that I used to drag my feet to get to work on my stuff, but now I appreciate every spare minute I get to spend making things. It is frustrating trying to find a balance between mommy and potter, but as long as I have a little time to spare for making, I can feel good devoting the rest of my time to Maddy. And I know that full time art making can wait. I have years and years for that. I just need to be reminded by someone whose already been there. Thanks for the kind words, that means a lot:)