I spent some time with artist Cibele Vieira last week because of my involvement with the Bushwick Open Studio Benefit, which as far as I can tell, Cibele was completely committed to. Cibele is an artist having just hung a solo show in LES gallery, Christopher Henry; she is also a commercial photographer and a MOTHER. I can barely keep my shit together with my usual day to day, let alone VOLUNTEER for a whole other overwhelming responsibility that involves a large group of people, a tight deadline, and no budget.
I couldn’t keep myself from saying to her, “You are crazy for having children—why would you do that to yourself?”
In honor of recently passed Mother’s Day, here’s how our conversation went. Please read carefully if you are considering reproducing as well!
Dr. Lisa: Did you get pregnant by accident or did you want to have children?
Cibele: Sam, my son, was planned. When I started to date Peter, who is also an artist and freelancer, I was 34. From the beginning we both had an understanding that a child would be on the horizon. So three years later it happened. Sam now is three and a half and I have to say that I am glad I am not alone in this! Even though the economics of two artists/freelancers having a child is problematic, I have a partner that fully understands and supports my art practice.
Dr. L: Is having a kid turning out like you expected? What about it is different? Would you do it again knowing what you know now—or have another?
C: Having a kid was NOT what I expected. Having a kid is the hardest job I ever had. It is a whole different thing to want a kid and to actually have one. I do not recommend it for everybody. Most of the time you are sleep deprived, money is tighter, and you can’t just go with the flow or be spontaneous. I will definitely not have another kid. But the hypothetical if I could go back in time is silly, because it is unfeasible and today if anything would happen to Sam my life would be ruined. He brings a sense of joy to my world I would otherwise never have known.
Dr. L: Geez, you really do pretty much like it. It still sounds horrible.
C: The love I have for Sam is an animal thing. It is organic and it is not quantitative for me and is very overwhelming in a good sense, because I am a very pragmatic person. This love takes me out of balance and puts myself in touch not just with feelings but with reality which is a good thing. Besides that, Sam gave me a sense of how important time is…if I am away from him it better be worth my time. So my work and projects have to make sense and fulfill me intellectually, and nowadays there is not a lot space for procrastination, which is amazing!
Dr. L: Don’t you get jealous when you see photos of your friends out having a good time without you?
C: Sometimes I do…but most of the time I am so tired that just a vision of a couch makes me very happy. Because a big part of being an artist is networking and socializing at openings and it’s after hours Peter and I try to go to all the important things, even if just for 5 min, and most of the time we bring Sam along. Of course sometimes you can’t bring a kid along, so those times we take turns. But having a kid sometimes is a great and real excuse to stay home.
Dr. L: Isn’t having the responsibility of a child scary for your future? How are you going to pay for college? What if he chooses to become a crooked art dealer?
C: Dr. Lisa, you sound so neurotic and uptight! If I was so worried about the future I would not be an artist…and if you asked Sam today what he wants to be when he grows up he’d say “trash (sanitation) truck driver.” If that makes him happy it would be fine with me.
Bottom Line: DO NOT HAVE CHILDREN. Unless of course, you are somewhat like Cibele, who has her shit together with a reliable, supportive partner and is relaxed and flexible. Also, if you are also looking for a big experience that will open you up and show you a sense of joy and love that you can’t get any other way.
What are your thoughts on motherhood/parenting? Post ’em here—I want to know!
Any thoughts, sex, love or life questions, just email them to Dr. Lisa at: [email protected]