Mesh panties, cracked nipples, potty training, first days of school and every moment in between. The trenches of motherhood can be deep and daunting, leaving little mental or physical energy to dedicate to yourself. Somewhere between the midnight feedings and laundry mountains, I lost my creativity. I boxed away the paints, fabrics, pretty papers and pens to make room for playgroups, bunk beds, and postpartum depression. I tried to sneak in art classes and projects here and there, but it just wasn’t the same. I no longer had the freedom to have multiple projects spread about the surfaces of my space. While I was in the newborn chapter, I was doing my best to stay afloat while devoting myself to soaking up every baby snuggle I could get. As we welcomed in our third baby I told myself to cherish the first years knowing just how quickly they fly by. Enjoy the moments. Slow down.
The baby stage of my parenting journey has come to an end. Our family is complete and my kids are growing into amazing humans with their own interests and independence. But where does that leave me? I can sleep through the night now. My kids can all (mostly) use a toilet without help. They know where the snacks are. I have been given back some quiet moments to find myself. The first few (ok, like 10 times!) that I was kid-free I just kind of fumbled around feeling lost about what to do. I knew that I wanted to spark my creativity. I just did not know how.
From years of running a support group for parents I fully knew the importance of finding a community. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people who are there to cheer you on and hold you up is essential in all stages and chapters. But, that first step to creating connections is uncomfortable. You’ve got to say yes and actually show up. I needed something that fit my schedule and was worth the babysitter. After searching for events and meetups I found a group that met up once a month in the morning. I clicked going and attended my first Creative Mornings. Magic! They truly reflect community over competition and welcome in everyone. I was so nervous attending my first meeting, afraid I’d be the frumpy mom surrounded by hip KC artists in their twenties. I was warmly greeted with high fives, hot coffee, and a diverse crowd of local creatives. Creative Mornings hosts a themed speaker each month whose powerful messages have left me with so much to think about and process. The more I connect with members, I am finding such amazing inspiration to honor my creativity while balancing kids. Seeing other parents who are out there sharing their work, growing their businesses, and rooting for one another was something I was lacking and has been such a great push to get back into the routine of creating.
Kansas City is not lacking in creative events, businesses, and people. From indie craft fairs to ethically made lingerie and sustainable ceramics, Kansas City creatives are not only extremely talented but also truly care about our community and making the world a better place for everyone. I recently had the opportunity to really step out of my comfort zone and attend The West 18th Street Fashion Show. The businesses that operate on this historical street created one of the most beautiful experiences while showcasing the power of community. I had the privilege (thank you April Dion!) to sit down and chat with some of the talented designers to learn more about how they have balanced parenthood while operating creative businesses.
Courtney and Caleb of Village Collection shared about growing a business and a family. Using their creative eye for design, they offer their customers an amazing selection of vintage goods. Curating such a gorgeous collection and balancing parenthood hasn’t stopped them from thriving in their business. Opening a brick and mortar space, showcasing a second amazingly detailed collection, while serving their clientele was so inspiring to hear about as I was desperately trying to figure out a balance of my own.
Alexis of Birdies told me about her journey through deployment, working on the corporate level, and having a family. Her transition into the beautiful business that is Birdies came from years of friendship, trust, and community. Alexis encourages mothers to work with where they are at in motherhood and to feel beautiful and confident in their own skin. Postpartum bodies come with enough body image issues that can affect so many areas of your life. Birdies is there to make you feel not only comfortable and supported but sexy! The shop is a beautiful place to shop and a pillar in the creative culture of Kansas City.
Missy, the super talented designer and founder of Sew Unrelaxed has used her journey through motherhood as a catalyst to create a beautiful and blessed life. As a young mother, Missy’s son was adopted by a wonderful family. Working hard after her pregnancy, Missy found her passion in sewing, mending, and fashion design. She knew her home and support were here in Kansas City and this is where she has grown her creative brand. It was such an honor to hear her message that there is no one way to be identified as a mother and how you can use that love as fuel to chase your dreams.
Soaking in all of the wisdom and creative energy from this event I left feeling confident and renewed. Every detail from the swag bags to the rose petals being tossed as you exited were so thoughtfully designed. Taking that leap to attend this event solo, to just go for it meeting people, talking to the designers, and seeing everything that went on behind the scenes for this iconic KC event was exactly what I was craving. Creativity can come in so many forms, and motherhood shouldn’t stifle it. From the detailed make-up on the models to the centerpieces on the tables, seeing a community of creatives come together to support one another was something I’ll never forget.
Now that I was ready to create again I attempted to create a workspace that was secluded from my children and their play areas. But it just was not working. I never made the time to sneak away or kids would always want to join me. Having a dedicated, kid-friendly space with supplies at the ready makes it so easy to just start a project whenever we are in the mood. Including my children in the space and supplying them with their own materials has been such a welcome change to our home.
We love to experiment with different mediums. Shopping for supplies for all of us can really start to add up. We like to avoid big-box style stores and support local as much as possible. Scraps KC is a thrift/reuse style art supply store. The selection and pricing give us the freedom to try out all types of materials. Purchasing supplies and attending classes at Scraps KC also goes towards the incredible work their organization does to support the homeless community of KC. Another favorite KC store is the Artist & Craftsman Supply. They are always having amazing sales, stock our favorite brands, and showcase local artists. A & C has a great selection of unique, child-friendly products and is our go-to for gifts, goodie bags, and prizes. We love having access to new supplies while supporting local businesses and grateful to have such a fantastic employee-owned art store. I want my family to have high-quality supplies available to use while honing our talents and these stores make that possible.
Now that my children are learning to appreciate art we have so many plans of visits to all of the amazing Kansas City art museums. Incorporating art appreciation and lessons into our homeschool curriculums has given me an opportunity to explore and learn right alongside them. I jump right in to working on the projects. We say yes to creative classes and tours. You will find a paint-covered table, open access to supplies, and little masterpieces all over our home. Creativity is just as welcomed and encouraged as reading and writing.
I have learned to make creating a priority. I intentionally balance my time to finish a project each month, I take classes for myself, and I lean into the KC creative community when I am feeling uninspired and unsure of myself. My creativity is what makes me me. I hope I never lose it again, but if I do, I know that Kansas City is the best place to find it.