My first child was born the same week I started my second degree, teaching, by distance education. My first degree had been Visual Arts, no surprise really as I had always identified as a creative arty farty person. But then this tiny baby arrived, and I had a new identity - Mother, and parent. And suddenly I was also a student again.
The time and energy to create high art evaporated completely, but the need to create still puckered me up at my edges.
So my approach to creativity changed, and became more practical. I gardened, and my new palette was now flowers and foliage inevitably with a baby and toddler helping me, on my hip or next to me.
I occasionally brought out the paints and together my growing little family splatted and slopped and dabbed and made interesting artworks on newspaper, boxes, fabric etc.
Then at night I would paint my own small, modest things on the kitchen table, always things that were easily packed up. And eventually beautiful photos of my kids were not the only images on my rolls of film, but arty-farty, conceptual things began to appear again.
Gradually, slowly, eventually I started to put artwork in group exhibitions and even entered the local show. I read arty cool magazines and went to galleries, dragging my family with me, using these excursions as opportunities to show the kids cool stuff.
I kept my finger in a lukewarm creative pie, and stuck their pudgy little fingers in it too.
But then something dramatic happened in my life, that stopped me in my tracks. This event made me realise something. The path I thought I was going to walk on, a full time teacher, was not for me. Or I would never be content and fulfilled... and instead I would be a miserable mother and a woeful wife.
And even though it was REALLY terrifying, the thing that gave me the biggest PUSH to do it? That stopped me from from giving up, and still does? It was the hope that I could inspire my children.
It was the thought that I could show my kids that there is a choice to live like this. To make them proud of what I could achieve. To model to them that passion and hard work and being creative is a choice, a real one.
Today, nothing makes me prouder than hearing them boasting to their friends about what I do. Than knowing the reason we are on a holiday is because I am hosting a workshop there and this gives us this opportunity as a family to have new experiences.
I am like a kid at show and tell when I take them to my new exhibition, or show them some art I did in a book, magazine or a poster.
I love having my kids sit in my studio with me, creating, even if it means my art supplies get filched.
Nothing is better than hearing them talk about how when we go to Paris in a few months that they cannot wait to go to the Louvre, and the Musee D'Orsay.
I know then that I made the right choice.
And I am not lying when I say that it is their faith in me, their love, their support, that keeps me striving to live creatively, in as many ways as I can. They are the compass that points me in the right direction.
These identities co-exist together and feed off each other, never seperate always intertwined. Just as they should be.I also still teach a few days a week, because I worked bloody hard to get that teaching degree. It is a juggle. And I am knackered! I really am. It is a hard gig. But my heart knows it is happy.