Friday, January 25, 2008

The Creative Side

There are a million things I have learned about myself since becoming a parent – the good, bad and the very ugly! Two things in particular surprise me the most. One, I actually thought when I became a mother, and I mean in that instant, I was going to discover an untapped well of patience and compassion within me. I mean isn’t that the essence of mothering? Instead I’m more like one of those oil drilling machines digging, digging, searching for an ounce more patience and kinder words. Secondly, I never imagined I would cringe at creativity.

When Isaac was very small I tried a few creative projects only to realize by the time I blinked he was done drawing a single jagged line or smashing an unrecognizable sponge-stamped heart onto Valentine’s cards. I let myself off the hook and decided he wasn’t quite ready.

Several years and another kid later I cringe when they want to paint or even get out the Play Doh. Shame on artsy-fartsy me that our art cupboard inventory is down to some coloring books, dried up markers and a glue stick. And it’s not because they aren’t interested, it’s me avoiding the mess and hassle. I’m all “let’s make cookies” instead. After all, Isaac gets enough glitter gluing and sequin exposure at pre-school, right?

But they have been asking to paint and I couldn’t just keep whistling and ignoring them so I bought painting supplies this week including new brushes and a huge pad of paper for the easel. It was going to be perfect. And it was (at first). The only thing they were missing were little berets as I got them all set up to express themselves in brilliant, uninhibited strokes. Meanwhile I could go express my need to get away if only via the computer. A half hour later Isaac came downstairs. He was rubbing paint into his hands like hand lotion and had expressed himself with some happy face painting. “What are you doing?” I half yelled and his face went from look-at-me to what’d-I-do? I found Libby with paint dripping off her paper, the easel her stool and enough in her hair (more face painting) to warrant a bath.

But in the end when it was all cleaned up and I explained what I should have explained from the very start – why I bought the BIG pad of PAPER, I realized that I did get irritated but I dug past it and showed a little of that patience and good stuff that I once thought would be so easy to come by when someone was calling me Mama. So, we’ll get the paints out again, but I’ll pay more attention and know that I’m still creating the mom I really want to be and it’s messy.


Jennifer said...

I can't stop giggling... just picturing the two of them dripping in paint. I'm sure it was a mess... but isn't there a part of you that wishes you had had a secret camera upstairs to see how they made the not-so-natural transition from paper painting to face/hair painting? Who do you suppose initiated that new technique? Just think about what a great story it will be to tell them when they graduate.. or get get married. hee hee

Anonymous said...

I totally know what you mean about art projects.. There are days when I refuse to get the play-doh or paint out because I don't want to have to deal with the mess. Heck, sometimes even the markers are too much for me! Once the boys were coloring with markers while I was in the kitchen, the next thing I hear is "a little higher, there you go..." and I turn around to see G. telling M. how to color his eyelids! Both their faces were covered in markers, and I had only been turned around for about 30 sec!!