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  • marissajisch

2020 Became A Creative Catalyst

Updated: May 12, 2021

I’m sure you're tired of reading, “2020 was a tough year," but I have gratitude for this time in limbo because it brought me back to writing.

I leaned into the challenges that come with raising children when I gave birth to my oldest son...scratch that...I gave up every aspiration associated with writing because that’s what felt right at the time. My creative writing halted when I became a mom because there was breastfeeding classes, time off for the flu, preschool bills, then another son and xyy,47 chromosome disorder. Sleepless nights because they were bullied or struggling, missed work meetings, and dinners then baths, dishes after bedtime, then nothing left for me.

I can’t turn back the years, but I am thankful motherhood led me to new meaningful directions. I taught early intervention sign language, art classes for 3-year-olds to teens, and finally preschoolers up until the pandemic hit. Through the years, I reminisced about my minor successes with poetry and short story publications, my Off-Broadway playwriting/directing days, a novel left on my harddrive. The weight of ignoring my writing dreams grew heavier.

I’m sure you're tired of reading, “2020 was a tough year," but I have gratitude for this time in limbo because it brought me back to writing. My career was put on hold again, I had hernia surgery after needing it for years, then my father died, and I folded myself into months of grief counselling. One day after homeschooling my two sons (Jackson, 8; Layne, 6) and five high-risk kids in my home, I opened an old project that I attempted to reconnect with over the last decade. Isolation put my mind into retrospective mode and I embarked on a study of existentialism.

I started a series of interconnected character sketches that helped me explore the minutiae and maxims of relationships. Life is about our little choices and big mistakes that lead to love or pain. Sometimes, those moments are so small that they pass quickly and we don’t see how they’ve stuck to us. Other times, they’re so grave they become the thread weaving through the fabric of our decisions. I grapple everyday with how my actions (or reactions) will affect my children as adults. I often wonder if we learn to understand our parents in our age or theirs.

By creating characters that aren’t perfect, I learned more about why we love and empathise. There is beauty in how we are incompletely connected. Exploring fictional child-parent relationships led to healing; allowed me to see the “good mother” in me comes from the admirable women I aim to emulate and the unpleasantries I hope to never repeat.

Even as I write this, my husband is cutting Jackson’s hair behind me and Layne stands in the doorway, making me watch how fast he’s swinging his leg. Writing with constant interruptions or drinking tea at 9 pm in order to stay up until 2 am to get the character who formed in my head all day out on paper are the overt challenges. The inaccessability of a career that balances the needs of a mother is my reality. I know this isn’t a unique situation, but I was getting places with writing before motherhood and every time I’m getting somewhere with a career, I sacrifice my goals to fit fully into the “mom box” again. When that dejected feeling creeps in, I stuff it deep inside because the “If I didn’t have kids...” thought only leads to guilt. And that feeling is much more bitter.

Jackson is an amazing artist, Layne is rhythmically-driven and in their ability to feel the world so grandly, I’m able to feel in new ways too. We try to appreciate this time in our little space. My husband is aware that writing has taken a back seat and he wants me to have the chance to see how far I can go. I've created long lists of goals and I'm writing again nearly every day. I hope you'll join me on this creative journey.

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