One of the first mothers I connected to in book form was Helen Belden – aka Moms – in the Trixie Belden mystery series. The first six books were written by Julie Campbell between 1948 and 1958 and what I loved was that picture-perfect Americana image of a housewife and mother: nurturing, loving, nourishing, and supportive while also fierce in the way she cared for her family and her children’s friends.
Helen Belden also excelled in creative ways: gardening, canning, sewing, cooking, and painting. She was in many ways the embodiment of what I envision when I think about honoring the art of creative living.
While I have loved other literary mothers in my readings over the years, my mind continues to go back to Helen Belden for this simple reason: in the way she was the perfect mother to remind me that my creativity also mothers me.
Yes, you read right: my creativity mothers me. All the ways in which I see Helen Belden as the quintessential Americana mother character, my creativity does that for me as well.
When I am in need of feeling nurtured, all I need to do is to reach for my journal and a favorite pen. Allowing my thoughts and emotions to flow on the page soothes me and reaches a part of my soul that not much else does.
When my thoughts turn to love, loving others, and loving myself, I turn to the ways in which creating a home holds me. I crawl into my favorite leather chair, pull a blanket over my legs, and read a book when I need the comfort of a loving touch. I tidy up the house, tend to John’s wardrobe, or gather food for meals when I want to be loving towards others. And when I want to love myself, my creativity saves me again: back to the page, to the garden to snip daffodils for tiny vases, or sing in the shower as warm water cascades across my body.
When my body needs nourishment, I turn to the ways in which simple ingredients can be artfully combined to create a meal. When my soul needs nourishment, I seek the words of poets and philosophers across the ages, reveling in the ways their use of their talents feed my heart. When my mind is in need of nourishment, I read yet more words and then take it back to the page to help me puzzle out what a character or piece of research makes me think about more deeply.
When I am in need of feeling supported, my creativity never fails me. I can sing and dance around the house, lifting my spirits. I can turn to other creative friends and share what I’ve made. I can simply walk through my own home, admiring the art we’ve chosen and how the placement of furniture provides a warm and welcoming space.
My creative life saves me in a myriad of ways, so as I’ve begun to see the ways in which it mothers me, it’s easier to devote myself to the pursuit of it.
I’ve also come to realize that in order for my creativity to continue to mother me, I must also mother it. Like Helen feeds and waters her garden and her children, I must also feed and water my creative life.
I need to feed my soul with the good work of other makers: writers, poets, filmmakers, actors, artists, and photographers. I must fuel my mind with inspirational home make-overs, tips for being a better writer, and learning new cooking techniques to make cooking dinner more fun.
I must support my creative life by giving it the right tools for growth. As a writer, that means pens, papers, and easy to use software. As a homemaker, that means a good vacuum cleaner, a favorite fabric softener, and sometimes the support of a cleaning lady to help me tackle things I’m not good at. Or, to simply step in for me to tackle tasks so that I can spend some time with my writing.
Yes, time. Just like mothers want to spend quality time with their children, I must also spend quality time with my creativity. I must sit at my desk and write, not surf. I must make time for good television, inspirational magazines, and music.
Like Helen’s fierceness in loving and protecting her children and their friends, I must be fierce in my protection of my creative life. I must guard it, love it, and ensure that I don’t let it fall to the wayside.
Many of us are in the space of our lives when our mothers no longer are around to tend us. To cook a favorite meal, to offer the words of comfort only a mother can. Many of us are also in the space of no longer actively mothering small children, and that ache of an empty nest is met with a sadness colored with both joy and freedom.
Yet, always within our grasp is our creativity and the way in which we can live in an artful manner. When we see that through the lens of both being mothered – and mothering – we are reminded that the unconditional love a mother has is always within reach.
I think Helen Belden would agree.
About the Author: Debra Smouse
Debra Smouse is a self-admitted Tarnished Southern Belle, life coach, and author of Clearing Brain Clutter: Discovering Your Heart’s Desire and Clearing Soul Clutter: Creating Your Vision. When she’s not vacuuming her couch, you’ll find her reading or plotting when she can play her next round of golf. She’s the Editor in Chief here at Modern Creative Life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.