I used to be a creative person; indoors I loved painting, drawing, crochet and embroidery and outdoors, I enjoyed making things in wood (like my raised beds) or doing something with the garden.
Over the last thirteen years, I haven’t been very creative in these ways. I have done the odd project here and there, but nothing much. This led me to wonder recently, was my creativity broken?! Would I ever get back to ‘creating’?
What happened thirteen and a bit years ago to stem the flow of artistic expression? Pigeon arrived in my life as a tiny baby. Loved and wanted, but not easy to settle or look after. Babies in general take up most of a parent’s time, but when I look back I can see the autistic traits and sensory processing difficulties there from birth. Just keeping him alive on a daily basis was challenging – his favourite action as a baby was to launch himself backwards out of the arms of the person holding him! Then he learnt to climb before he could walk and narrow windowsills were his preferred place to hang out. No matter how we arranged furniture and boxes of toys, he’d find a way to make a staircase out of them to get up high. Fast forward to when he was slightly older, and there were the challenging behaviours and refusal to speak at times of high stress (which was most of the time!); climbing everything was still a feature but now it was ever higher and more dangerous. Oh and I was now a single parent, just to make things a little more complicated.
Then Parrot joined our family…things got a whole load crazier! He has no sense of danger or care about the consequences of his actions. His behaviour becomes extremely challenging every time there is a visual or routine change, which as hard as I try is impossible to prevent.
We live on a rollercoaster where one or the other, or even both boys are behaving in a challenging way. In the midst of this, I somehow expected my artistic abilities to be flourishing! It seems silly now as I write it.
My creativity is not broken, it is redirected. I do still draw and paint occasionally, mostly murals for the boys’ bedroom walls and ceilings. I do crochet, mostly blankets for the boys to wrap themselves up in whilst feeling ‘sensory’. I do things in the garden/allotment still, but it is mostly growing food to teach the boys where food comes from or making habitats for wildlife with the boys. Sewing, well that is mainly mending clothes, naming school uniform items or making Bento bags for their school packed lunches. I have also realised that just keeping my special needs boys alive, safe and functioning in society takes a lot of creative energy! I am their occupational therapist, physiotherapist, equipment provider, social skills teacher, boundary maker and keeper…the list goes on, but it all takes energy, time and thought.
One day I may again be artistic and creative in the more conventional sense, but right now it is being used in raising my boys.