When Your Kid is Your Muse

At what age is it not your story to tell?

Since giving birth 4 years ago, my art and my parenting are all wrapped up together.

Probably my favorite thing I’ve ever written is the story of her birth. I usually do most of my editing as I go, but for this, I spent over a year coming back to it, cutting out the repetition, getting the pacing just right. It was the story of how my amazing kid came into this world, the story of us one becoming us two, and it needed to be right.

She’s become my muse.

I’m still interested in other things, of course, but when I create, it’s usually about her.

My first creative outlet postpartum was upcycling baby clothes. Dealing with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety, I needed something to make me feel like me again, like the creative person I had always been. At the same time, my anxiety was telling me that every waking hour (and there weren’t many sleeping hours back then) had to be devoted to her.

So I made clothes for her. My husband was adamant that if she looked back at baby photos of herself and she didn’t look like a punk rock ninja elf, she would think we hadn’t really loved her. (He might’ve been dealing with some postpartum anxiety as well.)

Onesie from my etsy shop. “Holy Fucking Shit OWLS” patch by artist Matt Gauck

I literally enrobed my kid in my art, then practiced my photography skills on her, shared photos of her with the world, then wrote about it (naturally).

I found my creative self again by creating art for her. Not that she cared. So was it really for her?

Around 3 years old, she stopped wanting her photo taken. She went back to liking it pretty quickly, once she realized I would let her see the photo afterward on my phone. But it got me thinking:

At what age should I stop sharing photos and videos of her with the world?

And when should I stop writing about her?

Almost all of my Medium articles are about her, or about myself through the lens of parenting. I’m proud of what I’ve written, proud of how honest I’ve been. But at what point will it be a breach of her privacy?

When is it not my story to tell anymore?

I would love to hear how others have navigated this! Let me know in the comments!