Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I'm being outgrown ...

When my kids were small, they loved blankets. The softer, the better. The bigger, the better. They loved to wrap themselves up in them like little caterpillars in cocoons. They wanted to take them wherever they went too. They'd drag them up and down stairs and all through the house and beg to take them with us in the car. 

Often their favorites were the ones they'd started using as infants in their cribs. 
At one time, their tiny baby body was just a bitty bump under the enormous blanket. Gradually they grew into it, though, taking up more space beneath it. Gradually they realized that staying wrapped up in a blanket grew hot and restrictive and kept you from going outside too. Gradually they realized that carrying around a blanket (that was usually pretty tattered and torn by years of use) wasn't the coolest look either. So the blankets got less and less use over time.

I've been feeling pretty much like those blankets lately.

I've been a stay-at-home-mom to four kids for 24 years and still counting. 
My youngest will become a teenager next year, the next is nearly half-way through high school, the next just started college this year, and the oldest is out of college making a life on his own out of state. I feel privileged to have stayed home with them all these years. I feel blessed to have witnessed so many wonderful moments with each of them. I feel very grateful to my husband whose career and work ethic made it all possible for us. When I was in the midst of the busy childcare days of diapers and tantrums, snack time and nap time, play dates and preschool, soccer practice and dance lessons, I knew my job description and performed it well (most days). I never thought much about it coming to an end or even changing to a lesser role. 

Now, however, I'm starting to see it.

The fact is my kids need me less often and in a different capacity than when they were small. They need less of my time and more of my heart. They need me to be less visible but always available. They've outgrown me just as they outgrew those blankets. I surrounded them just like a blanket with comfort and security and love when they were small. The bigger they grew -- no matter how hard either of us tried to stretch it -- the blanket only covered so much. The more independent they now become, the less my help and guidance can be stretched to meet all their needs. At some point, they each have to break free of the blankets wrapped around them and go out in the world to play.

So, am I sad about this transition? Sometimes, but not always. Those blankets now outgrown are cherished treasures! And ... just as even a small blanket can be pulled out now and then for warmth and comfort, so can a mom -- no matter how big the child gets.

Such is the saga of the career stay-at-home-mom.
If you do it right, eventually you work your way out of the job.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Perfectionism - the little demon!

I've been talking myself out of MANY things lately by claiming that I can't do X until all of this Y is in perfect order. I really want to do X and will do X as soon as I'm caught up on Y. If only I didn't always have so much Y to do, I'd be able to have time for X.
What is my X? In general, ART.
What is my Y? Oh, so many mindless things ...
All the household junk that needs to be done but really doesn't need to
consume my days the way I allow it to sometimes. It's the busy work I make for myself continually making 'to do' lists instead of just buckling down and 'doing.'
It's the quick errands run that turns into a day of leisure shopping because I don't want to go home and do the items on my 'to do' list.
It's too much and too often unnecessary computer time.
Even when I commit to art I hold myself back.
I want to make a project but need certain supplies.
I take time to gather/buy all the supplies but need to learn the techniques.
I take an online class to learn the techniques but don't want to 'waste' the supplies by using them on something unworthy of keeping so I don't try anything at all.
I take in all this knowledge through the course but don't allow myself the slightest
learning curve necessary to get started actually applying it.
It's time to stop this madness!

Perfectionism needs to be kicked to the curb!
It's time to gently allow myself to be imperfect, inexperienced, and
awkward at something new instead of expecting to ace it the first time through.
A book I'm currently reading, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown,
is reinforcing this big time -- and boy, do I need to hear it regularly!

I'm imperfect and I'm enough!
It's time to allow myself to make mistakes and create ugly art
but learn through the process instead of expecting to create a masterpiece
every time I sit before a blank canvas.
It's time to start showing up to practice art instead of always having a plan to make
specific art. Really, no art created is unworthy when the
process of creating brings joy and satisfaction.
It's time to just show up -- imperfections welcome!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Change is a-coming!!

So ... a little art in every day ... not so much lately.
I'm dusting off my studio table after several months of inactivity. I let so many things keep me
from creating in the studio this year. Some have been very good things - family things that were wonderful to be present for. Some were necessary household things that we all have to make time for. Some were actually creative things that I was involved in outside my little home studio (which I may post on in the future?).
Mostly, however, I've stopped being accountable to myself about the importance to me
of a little art in every day.
But it's time for that to change.

When I was a young girl, growing up in a large household on the farm, every Saturday was house cleaning day. My sisters and I would have to get up early (often being awakened before 8am to the sound of the vacuum cleaner - my mother's not-so-subtle hint at what day of the week it was!) and help my mom thoroughly clean house. No Saturday morning cartoons, no games, no play, no arts and crafts, no going outside until the cleaning jobs were all finished. We were usually able to work together well enough to finish by early afternoon and were then free to choose our amusements until chore and dinner prep.

I used to look forward to baking and creating art on those afternoons.
I'd pour through the cookbooks for new recipes to try. (I baked my first loaf of braided Challah bread when I was about 13.) I'd also spend hours in my room coloring or cutting up construction paper and
glueing together collages, dioramas, and any other 3D art.
Both are still great pleasures for me. Both are creative things I still look forward to doing
'once my real work is finished'.

On the farm -- with its never-ending list of chores to accomplish 24/7, and in the household I began when I married my sweetheart -- when we were busily having and raising our four children, this order of priorities was quite necessary. Increasingly though, with the independence of my children,
I think that order of priorities is a bit backwards for me.

The 'real work' I'd like to be doing is the creative work.
What would happen if I flipped my priorities around?
What would happen if I treated my creative skills with respect and allowed them to fill more hours of my day than ... say, laundry?
What would happen if I allowed myself to learn more and dive a little deeper into art?

For the longest time I've been placing my art at the bottom of the To Do list. I've only allowed myself time for it if and when all other tasks are finished. I now realize this is a mistake.
I need art in my every day routine. It energizes me, uplifts me, calms me, strengthens me to
do the unpleasant and mundane things I have to do.
I should be doing more of it.
I will do more of it.
Change is coming!