Oh dear. A bad week for author, Lauren Sandler; a fantastic week for her publishers and PR team?
Ms Sandler started a vitriolic feminist cat-fight for suggesting that mothers should only have one child if they want to be successful. Apparently, her particular reverence for writers with just one child, has forced her to consider whether having more than one can hinder a woman’s creativity.
The names of female authors I have never heard of, who have more than one child, have waded into the discussion to slap a dirty nappy in Sandler’s audacious face.
Nothing causes greater polarity than the delicate issue of motherhood, whether this is discussing breast feeding versus bottle; being a ‘stay at home mother’ or a working one, and whether parents choose to co-sleep with their younglings or not.
To suggest that having multiple children extinguishes a woman’s creative flames, is nonsense. This implies all works of art were created by childless folk. I haven’t checked but I’d bet my Percy Pigs on this not being the case.
A feeling shared by Zadie Smith:
“The idea that motherhood is inherently somehow a threat to creativity is just absurd.”
I am no less or no more creative, since squeezing out my cherubs. My children haven’t stifled my creativity at all. They have reduced my freedom for sure, but this will not last for ever. Nope, I do not have the freedom to go out at the drop of a hat, but the older they grow, the more my former liberty returns.
Furthermore, in my experience, there is little difference in terms of time and effort, between one child or two, despite Sandler’s spurious claim that: “each child adds no less than 120 hours of housework a year.”
Housework aside, I believe having more than one tot is easier in many ways, as each child has an in-situ playmate on hand.
I usually write when my children are in bed, napping or sitting on each other’s heads. How does Sandler write with one lonesome child floating around? Ooh the guilt!
Well, apparently, her family life is all the richer for having just the one Sandler junior:
“Our family life, busy with plentiful travel, the delights of urban living, late night rock shows and dinner parties, and the frequent freedom to binge on a novel over a weekend, allows as much freedom and pleasure as parenting without a trust fund could possibly offer.”
Hmm, that does sound bloody smug doesn’t it. Surely, her dinner party, rock show-fuelled, urban life, has more to do with her economic standing than whether any child is getting in the way.
It is entirely possible to have a purposeful life AND be a parent. It’s a sad indictment of our times, to suggest otherwise.
My two children make me incredibly happy. Much happier than pre-Twigglets. My life is full and varied. My husband and I love family time (not always!) and we love our time away from the home, whether this is as a couple or individually. I still find time to bounce from trees at Go Ape, visit the spa for a night or crash Christmas parties with friends. And when I’ve have my slice of freedom, I love coming home again to play train drivers with my son and ballet dancing princesses with my daughter.
And, above all, my creativity flourishes and I do find the time and energy to write. I have no doubt that this would still be the case if I have more children. Perhaps not two weeks after the birth, but eventually.
Whether you have no children, one child or 101 of the little folk, if you really want to write, paint, draw, dance, act, create – you will. Your motivation is the point, not the size of you brood.