Joan Didion’s late daughter Quintana once nailed a list of “Mom’s sayings” to the garage door that included “Brush your teeth” “Brush your hair” and “Shush I’m working.”
Although Didion’s quips sound like something so many of my mum friends could’ve said at any point over the last few months, as this (controversial) Atlantic piece
points out, it became “a symbol of Didion’s maternal negligence”.
“The idea that you “abandon some nurturing part of yourself” suggests that you can’t be kind and supportive and write, and that the kindness part of women’s lives is inevitably onerous.”
Similarly, author Zoe Brigley Thompson talks about how for so long, the image of someone being creative entailed “an individualism that cannot be maintained well in the life of domesticity and being a good parent”. She writes
“… we have to defy stereotypical imaginings of what creativity looks like. The tortured male genius with the sensational life is a dead end as a productive route to creative success.”
"The idea that motherhood is inherently somehow a threat to creativity is just absurd. What IS a threat to all women’s freedoms is the issue of time, which is the same problem whether you are a writer, factory worker or nurse. We need decent public daycare services, partners who do their share, affordable childcare and/or a supportive community of friends and family”.
Shaking off “the stank of uncool motherhood”
As much as we need to give mothers the time and space to create, parenting itself needs to be seen as a valuable part of the creative process, and not always an enemy of it.