No Capes Required

Dakota Nyght essays

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I’ve decided to apply for secret superhero status. They’re all the rage these days, have you noticed? They get cool costumes, plenty of respect. My kids would dig it. Oh, and the capes, did I mention the capes?

I wonder, sometimes, what those capes symbolize. I think they represent a safety net. Endless fallback plans. Invincibility. Ultimate triumph over all odds.

Superheroes also get one other advantage—they get to choose their own superhero name. This is clearly the way to go, because those names straight up tell you who they are and what they do. Superman, for instance, is clearly super. And Ironman? Oh, yeah, flex those suit muscles! Commissioner Gordon never asks if Batman can take down the nasty bad guy, it’s a given.

Limitation by label is an issue I run into over and over again. “Stay at Home Mom” (or Dad) is loaded with connotations of long dreary days or mindless afternoons at the park. “Working Parent” is another one, inviting pitying looks mixed with a little “How could you do that to your children?” Lawyer, Writer, Engineer, Artist. These titles are a little different. They encompass a range of activities and skills and even conjure up appearance, but somehow saying you’re a stay at home mom relegates you to yoga pants and butt wiping.

I’ve adopted “stay at home creative entrepreneur” as my moniker, which I'm pretty sure doesn't exist on any of those “find your average wage” charts but at least opens up the conversational floodgates. Last August, I started putting my artwork online alongside my writing. Somehow, serendipitously, that blossomed into a December art show. I also started making art prints.

It’s heady stuff. I am always astonished when someone compliments my work. At the same time, I’m wishing harder than ever for that superhero cape and all those accompanying perks.

I’m still tush-tending along with the entrepreneurship thing. I obsess that “working at home” looks too much like “neglecting the children.” I regularly sit the oldest down with 1957-era Zorro episodes and write or draw while the baby takes a nap. I forgo vacuuming and court a level even deeper than sleep deprivation (sleep delirium should be a recognized medical term) to find spare minutes in between first steps and first art prints, sweet doe-eyed baby snuggles and a sweet community of online peers.

My superhero costume is a hasty topknot, a pair of worn out jeans, dark circles under my eyes, and the first tank top on top of the clean laundry pile. My superhero-wardrobe mistress would be appalled.

But I want this. I eke out time to work because I can’t not. If I don’t create, my sanity is literally on the line. When my kids think superhero, I want them to think of someone who is a safety net. Someone who isn’t necessarily invincible. Someone who will triumph over all odds through perseverance. Themselves, someday, I hope. Me, for right now.

As for a fallback plan, well, I’m working on that. Between the lack of an appropriate costume and zilch for extraordinary powers, my application might get returned with a fat, red “Sorry, try again later” stamped on it.

But moms don't usually wear capes. I'm pretty sure entrepreneurs don't either. Each step down this path, whether it’s parenting or putting myself out there artistically, feels like jumping out into the unknown, one heart-stopping leap at a time. There is no safety net.

There’s no planning for it, but I think I can have it all. I think you can too. Superhero status granted, no cape required.

If you’re in the Missoula area, I would love to meet you during my month long December art show “Midnyght Whimsies” at the Starving Artist Cafe (3020 S Reserve St). They’re hosting a “Meet the Artist” on Friday, December 12th, and an Artist’s Demo on Friday, December 19th. Whew, that's a lot to remember! I invite you to follow my Facebook page for more details!

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About the Author

Dakota Nyght

Dakota Nyght had the perfect plan to be a crazy cat lady, but was thwarted by the arrivals of first one, and then two amazing children. Since she couldn’t qualify as a cat lady with two children and only two cats, she regrouped, left the work-for-someone-else-world, and is currently attempting to practice zen and the art of creativity as an artist, writer, and Mama. She documents the craziness on her website, .

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