Another Dark Side to Creativity: effort embarrassment and guilt!

Solar System in Sponge

I was up early this morning – I have a 3 day conference to go to this afternoon, but that wasn’t the reason for rising early. My 9 year old daughter and I need to finish our Solar System made of cake!

An hour later and we are both covered in revolting, grey coloured grey butter icing and laughing our heads off. Late for school and walking as I forgot to MOT my car (!), Pluto wobbles with every step I take and is leaving a nice, slate blue splodge of icing on my coat….

The joy of completion somehow shifts during our walk. Something strange happens to both of us. We pass other parents walking the other way (yep we are late) and they make “oooo”’s and pull various faces as they see the Solar System on a massive tray. Janey and I both start to get embarrassed and uncomfortable – for different reasons I think.
It looks like we have made “a big homework effort”. (In truth this was an hour rapid sponge making last night and an hour mixing different colour planet icing this morning, whilst trying not to make the iPad sticky).
Making an effort is not in vogue. My teenage daughter actively says, “mustn’t look like I have tried too much Mum!”. Even as an adult, if I really get into something, really enjoy something I am working on and and produce something I am proud of, I do feel a level of embarrassment and guilt… I mean WTF!
The creative effort Janey and I have made is making me feel guilty in other ways. One of the mums says something like “raising the bar rather, aren’t we?” and I understand her sentiment completely. A few months ago it was “castle” project time and on the hand in day, the castles that entered the playground got more massive, more elaborate as the morning progressed. (That day we just did a drawing). But today I do feel guilty as I feel I have added to the “I don’t feel good enough as a parent” thing that seems to pervade us all these days.
In truth, both Janey and I really enjoyed getting mucky and creative. Yes, it’s her homework, but does that preclude me from having fun? Trust me, you can see from the photo that this was not a finely polished masterpiece – the Earth did indeed look like a massive boggie.
Clearly I am trying to make up for some of my childhood frustrations, on the creativity front. I can remember having exciting, large and complex ideas as a child and not having the skill or resources to bring them into form. I doubt I even asked my parents for help. These days we are lucky. Creativity has been democratized – there is a wealth of equipment and resources and materials at our fingertips and if you look on You Tube, you have an instant art/craft teacher in your lounge.

So this morning, a different Dark Side of creativity to ponder:

Do you fear showing your efforts and talents in all their glory?
Do you feel guilty when you have spent time and effort on a creative project, when you could have been doing something else?
Does hiding your light help others?


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