Tina Roth Eisenberg is a graphic designer I always looked up to, only she’s not really a graphic designer anymore. After years of running her own graphic design studio, her blog swissmiss started overshadowing her work and these days, she’s also known as the creative force behind the lecture series Creative Mornings and quirky cool temporary tattoo company Tattly. She’s also the person behind the creative shared space Friends Work Here.
I slowly watched her step away from design as she assumed these new roles over the years. The interesting thing about her is that she credits motherhood for ushering in this new phase in her life. I was still childless when this was happening to her but I filed it away in my head because I was incredulous.
In 2015, it finally happened. After years and years of being a graphic designer, I began questioning if this was still what I wanted to do. It was also the worst time to have a career existential crisis because I also happened to be gestating a little human in my tummy.
During the crazy transition from non-mom to full-on lactating, diaper-changing mom, it was hard to think of anything else. When I finally got the hang of it and started reclaiming my life, my crisis lied in wait and I was faced with evaluating what I wanted to do with it. Unlike previous life appraisals, I had to straddle this current one with the behemoth called parenthood.
My life pre-kid now seems so absurdly spoiled. I remember having so much free time but used it to sleep in, lose myself in TV shows, and mope. I was a huge bum. I considered a day where I managed to put on pants a productive day. All of that is gone now in this season of my life.
The last big life evaluation was deciding to break away from being an employee in an office and starting a work-from-home design outfit composed of my husband and myself. We started it with the idea that we would hire other people and function like a small agency. We never got around to it. I left the office setup because I wanted to work where I wanted, to take in projects from different fields, and to be able to bring my daughter to her check-ups and take her out for merienda after school.
I felt more pull towards my independence (still!) instead of running my own daily grind with a bunch of people. I still don’t know what team setup can accommodate these things but the current way I know how to run a studio isn’t it.
Tina Roth Eisenberg felt the same way, it turns out. She realized that she didn’t want clients or a design studio anymore and wanted to work her way to having her own products. She keeps talking about how her two kids became her catalysts for giant leaps of faith. Her first one pushed her to start her own studio; her second one got her to take a sabbatical and develop new projects.
I would always gawk at moms who juggled so many things in their lives. My free time and my alone time were crucial to what made me me. I couldn’t grasp how a finite amount of time could make mothers run several businesses, stay on top of immunization schedules, plan birthday parties, and maintain marriages. We marvel at the idea of supermoms but now that I find myself in the position of plotting out the next chapter of my family’s life, this is what I’m seeing: all moms are supermoms.
It’s not a trite platitude, I swear. I’m realizing now that the finite time gives moms tunnel vision. When you have tunnel vision, you understand that you don’t have enough time so you scramble and make things happen. Because the alternative is having the days go by and not having much to show for it. Childcare is composed of monotonous routines to establish rhythm and stability. The awareness of this can be an awful feeling, especially if you find structure claustrophobic. You’re forced to examine your potential when your options are significantly reduced.
I was chatting briefly with ayoga instructor friend who just gave birth. She mentions how new motherhood physically traps you yet we talk about how your emotional and spiritual facets shoot off the roof. In the midst of nursing and navigating through the newborn fog, she’s already making plans to do something more. She’s interested in making furniture and pursuing interior design. Humans find ways to compensate when parts of them shut down. The soul always yearns for adventure and thinking we have all the time in the world can sometimes kill it. Parents, especially mothers, learn to seize available windows and break them open.
Kids also do a number on you. They get you thinking about how you want them to remember you and what values you want to impart. I want my daughter to know that her parents enjoy their work and they will fight tooth and nail to open up spaces for family time, side projects, long vacations, and alone time.
I’m still working as a graphic designer, but I also managed to squeeze in writing articles and starting a whole new other business. I’m reading books again. I finished three in the last month. I still can’t believe it. All this activity since giving birth 11 months ago is much, much more than I had going for me in the last few years.
Each time my daughter gives me a breather, the clock resets and it’s time to get sh*t done.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.