{Creativity Series} Spark Moms Interview

{Creativity Series} Spark Moms Interview

In May, I launched a blog series exploring the intersection of creativity, spirituality, and motherhood. As part of our journey together, I’m featuring interviews with fellow mom-artists.

This week, I’m talking with Melissa Aldrich, a sweet online friend of mine, talented blogger, professional photographer, and mom of three kids under four {including twins!}.

1. Have you always considered yourself a creative person? Why or why not? 

I think so. All of my memories seem to be of creative moments. Painting crafts in preschool. Writing stories. Organizing pageants and plays in the backyard. Photographing. Attempting to learn to paint. Filling journal after journal after journal with words and dreams and prayers. Singing in choirs. Stuffing my first sewing machine in the trunk of my Corolla.

2. When you became a mom, how did that affect your creativity? 

I have three children: 3.5 year old twins and a 1.5 year old son.

When I first became a mom with the twins I was just overwhelmed with the flood of motherhood. I changed diapers. I rocked. I nursed. They cried. I cried. I cherished the moments where we all fell asleep for more than 1 hour. I took showers on weekends. I felt alone and worthless and like a really bad mom. All the quilting, sewing, writing, and dreaming just sort of stopped for an awful season. I felt purposeless, but at the same time I knew part of my purpose was to raise these babies.

I didn’t create again until the girls were 9 months. By the time they were 16 months, I was surprisingly pregnant again and had a photography business that God had just dropped in my lap and a small group of women, both local and long distance, who encouraged my writing. I learned that although I was more tired, I felt more purposed in mothering and life when I sneaked moments away to knit or sew or photograph.

3. How do you find the time and space in your life for creative pursuits?

There is an enforced nap/quiet time at my house. It’s been shrinking lately since my twins are giving up actually sleeping most days. So I get about 1.5-2 hours mid-day to blog or edit or sew. I hire a babysitter who cares for the children in my house while I photograph newborns. My serving husband Derek will watch the girls for me to do sunset sessions with families.

But I’ve discovered two things about carving out time:

  • Moms need to set limits on their creative time. Motherhood is hard, and it’s especially tempting to just spend all day working on the creative stuff. Having clear limits on how many sessions I will take a month (just 3) and when I will work on creative pursuits makes it so my children will not blur into the background. After all, they’re more important.
  • Carving out time requires discipline. I’ve had those 2 hours (and it used to be 3 or more!) for years, but only recently have learned to utilize them all fully. I’m brain dead after 8:30 p.m., and I can never wake before my related-to-a-rooster son. So those 2 hours at nap are all I have. I recently discovered an app for ipad/iphone/ipod called 30/30. At the beginning of the week I sit down and label everything I want to accomplish during each day’s quiet time and assign an amount of time to do it. It takes a lot of discipline to start the app and also to make myself start the next task if I’m not “finished” with the first one, but the results are worth it. I even time showers or exercise if I know I need to do those during nap time :-p

4. What role does spirituality/your relationship with God play in your creativity?

I can’t write in a way that does any good without Christ. There are times I sit down and try… and I usually fail. And there are times when I write or photograph with the wrong motivation. But if my purpose is to glorify God, then I want to do that through creativity. Through writing down the hard stories and photographing grace and even sometimes being given the opportunity to tell the hard stories of others, I know that I am worshiping the God who created and orchestrated it all. Even so, I miss the mark on what I set out to do so often. But I’m learning more and more that my part is obedience to God’s call, and He’s responsible for the results whether in my heart, through my photography, through a gift, or through the telling of hard stories.

5. What is your biggest challenge at this season in your life, in pursuing your creative passions?

Having the discipline to make myself prioritize my creative pursuits. I have the time, we all do. It’s just utilizing that time that is so difficult! There’s also the temptation in me to research a subject to death. So I have to curb my tendency to research for the whole 20 minutes I’ve allotted for a task. I could read stories or articles all day long if I didn’t discipline myself.

6. By the way, what are your favorite creative pursuits?

Photography. Quilting. Sewing clothing for my children and myself. Knitting. Sometimes Embroidery.

7. When you do create, what is the payoff? How does it make you feel?

As an introvert, creativity recharges me because most of my creative pursuits are solitary. Being a professional photographer, there’s also this joy in being invited to capture the sacred everyday love and seeing my clients love their images. And as a writer, watching God use my words for that one person who may email me and say “That’s just what I needed.” Or watching Him use my words to recognize my own sin and begin to change my own heart for His glory.

8. What would you say to a mom who claims she’s just not a creative “type”?

You are! There’s creativity in so much you do. It doesn’t have to be Pinterest-perfect. There’s creativity in putting food on the table that’s not the same every night. There’s creativity in coloring the Care Bears coloring book with your 6-year-old while hearing tales of their day. There’s creativity in talking to another mom friend as you try to sort through recent struggles with your children. There’s creativity in rearranging a book shelf to make it functional and beautiful. There might even be creativity in how you organize and operate through the task of laundry.

I think it’s helpful to redefine “the creative type” in terms of what you love to do. If you love to dance or play soccer or pack lunches with little cheese animals or come up with the best knock-knock joke to wow your 2nd grader, then that’s your area of creativity. Or you might be like me and have creative pursuits all over the map. Look at what you do where you’re making beauty and feeling energized, and I bet that’s your area of creativity.

9. What advice would you give to a mom who says she can barely take a shower, so how can she find time to create?

There’s always time. There’s those wasted moments where suddenly the kiddos have all disappeared to play on their own where right now you’re sneaking on your phone to read this. You might not be able to paint a whole painting in those 20 minutes, but you can pull together all your supplies and organize your desk so that you can sneak a stroke or two in the next moment when the kids are surprisingly occupied. Oh, and showers are totally unneccesary: clean your armpits, spray on the perfume, and master the art of the messy updo. I’m joking… I think… :-p

10. What do you think God’s take is on creativity?

As a photographer/quilter/sewer/knitter, I’m taking all this raw material and just really reflecting what God has already done. Already made. I’m capturing on a sensor the lives of those he created or using cotton or wool or colors to bring about something beautiful.

God is creativity defined. He’s beauty defined. He created all of us unique. Have you ever studied the way the frog swims in the local pool? Or molecular biology? Or the reason a giraffe’s tongue is so dark? Or dove into a coral reef? All of these things are so startling different and perfectly designed. I’m astounded daily, at least once, by what He has done out of nothing! <— Tweet This!

My girls are identical twins. Same DNA. Same Parents. Same Environment. In a world engineered by mere evolution, my daughters should act, react, and express talents in the same way. They don’t. I have a compliant introverted and a strong-willed extrovert. One loves blue and the other pink. One likes her hair long and the other likes it shorter. One eats her sandwich each torn bite at a time and the other takes a bite right out of the middle of her sandwich. They’re different, and that’s because of some creative expression of God that I can’t even begin to understand.

So I think God is so skilled at combining beauty with perfect purpose in ways too varied to count. I hope my own created objects begin to reflect this part of His nature.


How about you? Have you always considered yourself creative? How do you find time to create?

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  1. I so loved reading this! It’s awesome to see both of your beautiful personalities in this space, Elizabeth and Melissa. Awesome creative philosophies, Melissa. (((Hugs))) to you both!
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