Jessie Kessler always wanted to be a mother and now, more than five years after she had her first of two daughters, Kessler, 33, is learning that motherhood is the most important role she can play, as well as the most difficult. She’s also learning ways to keep her creative spirit alive.
“Love is wrestling someone for the privilege of wiping their bottom,” Kessler said of her 2½-year-old daughter, Lyla.
Kessler, who lives in South Portland with her husband, Chris, Lyla and Cadence, 5, is also an artist, songwriter, musician and writer.
One of the most uncomfortable and challenging developments in motherhood has been learning how to “put yourself on hold,” Kessler said.
Grappling with the abrupt loss of her individuality and professional life, which was exacerbated when she left her job in social services to become a stay-at-home mother, initially took a toll on Kessler. Her purpose as a person shifted radically.
But, Kessler learned how to channel expression and creativity in other, less time-consuming ways.
Social media, with its ability to present one’s life as only positive and without hardship, frustrated Kessler and motivated her to portray the real, complicated and honest face of parentin through her art and words. She writes a blog, www.jessiekessler.com.
In a post from Jan. 15, titled “Oyster to his Pearl,” Kessler wrote, “Motherhood became my every breath, and my fantasies of a profession withered away. I surrendered myself completely to the lives of our two little ladies.
“Sometimes I feel I’ve lost the spark of my younger self. She’s buried under the laundry pile or the unopened mail … maybe she decided to hole up in the crockpot on the high shelf, under the thick layer of dust that crusts the lid. Once in a while, I find myself on Wikipedia, lusting after someone else’s success … wishing I were David Sedaris, or Dr. Brene Brown, or Paul Simon.
“But I am me, and someday I will bust out of my apron and sweatpants and blaze my path straight into … into … what? I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
“It is true that everything I am working toward at this moment has to do with my home life. All, that is, except writing. And making music. And creating visual art. Aha! This is my sacred dream. This is what keeps me afloat, in my little raft on the ocean of my Life. I am no one’s oyster but my own. And my creativity is the pearl – the sum of who I am.”
While Kessler does not claim to have mastered the art of parenting, she does believe that learning how to find small outlets of time to herself to process her emotions through creativity, has helped her to appreciate and observe motherhood through a clearer lens.
“I like to think of myself as a cast-iron skillet,” Kessler said. The more experiences, connections and hardships she goes through, the more seasoned she becomes as a mother and as an individual.
At the end of the day, even in the most taxing times, the smallest gestures, Kessler said, like a hug from Cadence or overhearing Lyla speak in full sentences, remind her that being a mother is undeniably worth the sacrifice.