Welcome to Week 17 of Motherhood by Design – the series where mothers who also run creative businesses share their inspirations and their experiences juggling the demands of raising children while growing a creative career.
"I urge anyone to view their creativity as a practice--as a regular discipline (like exercise or any other habit that helps you take care of you) that you keep rather than an image you uphold to the world."
Ann Imig is the Founder and National Director of the live-reading series and video sharing company LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER. A Stay-At-Home Humorist, Ann’s writing has been featured all over the internet, on sites like CollegeHumor, Huffington Post, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. She writes the blog Ann’s Rants, which has been named a Babble Top 100 Mom Blog, A BlogHer Voice of the Year, and a SheKnows Top 5 Funniest Mom Blog. Ann seems tailor-made for this series, doesn't she?!?
Welcome to Motherhood by Design, Ann - can you please describe your family?
My family consists of my husband of 16 years and two boys, ages 11 and 8.
What is your business?
Listen To Your Mother, LLC
When you were a child yourself, how did you spend your free time?
Lots of singing, dancing, imaginary play (house, school, store) plus hours and hours of television
Did crafting or handwork play a significant role in your childhood? If yes, in what way?
Nope, not significantly.
When you were a child, did you have ideas about your own future as a mother? Was motherhood something you’d always imagined for yourself, or is it an idea you grew into later in life?
I always dreamed of being a mother, ever since I can remember.
In your early years of motherhood, did you have/make time for your creative pursuits, or was your creative work put aside for a while? If the latter, when did you pick it back up?
I thought I had left my creative life as a stage actress behind by the time I became a mother. When my kids were 1 and 4 I started writing online and became obsessed with momblogging, as it connected me with community and also put me back in touch with an audience. I had no idea I even needed a creative outlet at the time, but looking back now it seems acutely obvious.
Did you start your creative business prior to becoming a mother, or after?
Listen To Your Mother (LTYM) was born of my own motherhood and the blogging that mothering inspired in me. Because desperation is the mother of invention.
What prompted you to start your creative business? Is it something you saw yourself doing when you were a child?
I am someone who did not always know what they wanted to be when they grew up. I meandered through acting, ad sales, social work, SAHM-ing, blogging and freelance writing. That seemingly disparate, random path and all of those stops along the way directly contributed to the birth of LTYM.
How do you balance your creative work with your role as a mother and how has that changed over time?
I think I'm a little better about work/life boundaries now that both of my kids have both been in school for a few years. During busy times I still have a hard time resisting the call to work at times, but it isn't so insistent and feels like less of a compulsion than it did when my "work day" only consisted of 2.5 hours of preschool. While I still love blogging and the internet, my bandwidth for it has also reduced considerably over the past 7 years, which helps too.
In what ways does motherhood affect your work processes?
I think mothering makes me super efficient, if sometimes too careless in the quest to get it all done and as quickly as possible.
In what ways does motherhood affect your creative products?
My work with LTYM is basically one enormous love letter to motherhood.
What is the biggest impact that your children have had on your business?
My kids provide endless fodder and inspiration for my writing. The challenge lies in honoring their dignity--making sure I'm the butt of the joke and leaving them out of my writing more and more as they get older. In a nutshell, LTYM never would've existed without my blog, and my blog never would've existed without my kids. They've built this as much as I have--the foundation, anyway.
How do you think your creative pursuits, including your business, affect your children?
When LTYM took off, and my blog became more widely-read locally, my kids did not enjoy the spotlight shining in their direction. I took a lot of care to honor their privacy, and recently--especially with the publication of our book LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER: What She Said Then, What We're Saying Now, I think I'm detecting a burgeoning pride in them that I never expected to see until perhaps they became parents or grown ups themselves.
Is there something you hope your children learn from you by having a creative business?
My fervent hope is to put my children in a position where they can follow their dreams--creative or otherwise.
What advice would you offer the mom who feels drained by the demands of motherhood and wants more hands-on creativity in her life?
We live in an increasingly presentational and performative world, with the focus becoming so much on product vs. process. I urge anyone to view their creativity as a practice--as a regular discipline (like exercise or any other habit that helps you take care of you) that you keep rather than an image you uphold to the world. Parenthood is messy and exhausting (and beautiful and rewarding), and adding the pressure of perfectionism to that already stressful system caused me a great difficulty when I started calling myself a humor writer back in 2009. LTYM taught me to let go of outcomes and focus on building connections between people instead of only performing for them. In addition to focusing on the work itself instead of the end-game, I highly recommend combining creativity with building community. Why not provide some scaffolding for others as you make your own way in the world? It's less lonely, you make your world stronger and better, and you might find that this community you help shape carries you farther than you ever could've imagined or realized on your own.
Thank you so much, Ann, for sharing your thoughts with us today! You can find Ann in the following places: