For a long while I felt guilty that I found it hard to be crafty with my kids. I follow Tinkerlab and other such inspirational sites and often feel that my aspiration is let down by my day to day desire and energy. When I was pregnant I thought I’d be a crafty mom. I thought I’d have heaps of time and could do my sewing and all the things I like to do when inspiration strikes. Now that I have children my thought process is rather different. Sure, I COULD do that, but I’d have to clean a space, get out the equipment, manage little hands and be ok with them leaving the project half way through OR being faced with the mess to clean up afterwards. Too often my mind jumps through these steps and decides that there’s other things to be done.
Today though, Adventure Girl picked up that I was in one of those moods. Washing to put away, food to make, Dash and his foot in plaster making life more difficult, on to my third cup of tea kind of day. Adventure Girl is rather smart so when I asked her if she’d like to pick a book to read, off she went to get her Mummy and Me Craft book. It’s a book that she loves to read but to be honest I think we’ve made 2 of the things inside it.
Today though was different.
Today, Adventure Girl picked up on where I was at and decided to bring me her craft book. And some disposable spoons. And some pipe cleaners. And then place them on the clean kitchen bench. “Mummy, can we make this?” – How can I say no! She’s done all the work and she’s not yet four.
So we did. We did craft. I got the glue and some wool. She decided mine needed a green pom pom hairdo (I think I should brush my hair more often) and I found some cupcake cases for the skirts. Dash joined in too and together we made what the book showed (well, kind of). Three spoon people. Not perfect but perfect for us.
I’m not one of those people you’ll follow on Pinterest. I love to follow others though and when creativity sparks attempt something. I write this thinking of the jumper I felted and haven’t yet made booties out of and my grand plans of making a crochet doll. The doll and pattern is from an incredible book which also has all the patterns to make the dress ups for the doll…. the sticky point being I’m still learning how to crochet and my girl is growing faster than my skill level. Will she still be interested when she’s 6 or 8 or 12 I wonder? Perhaps I should get lessons instead of just trying to learn on YouTube!
All these thoughts run through my head. Part of me is sad and wishes that I was diligent and creative and able to help my daughter and son explore that side of them by involving them more. Especially when Dash’s happy place is doing these fine motor skills. Then, I step back and find myself thankful for the people who are crafty. For Adventure Girl’s Preschool and teachers who help her develop and know she can make things. For her Gran who plays better than most kids. For those who fill my gaps. I may not be a crafty mom. That’s ok, there’s things I do that others don’t. In the mean time I’ll just remember that my daughter is learning independence and that’s a pretty handy life skill.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately on how are lives are portrayed to others. What we share, what we don’t share and that while we may not purposefully mean to be showing the highlight reel, who the wrong impressions can be projected due to our natural filtering.
Here’s just one example of many:
I’m currently sitting on a very comfy couch in Christchurch NZ drinking pinot noir and enjoying an incredible cheese board.
Cue photo of said cheese board and wine.
What this picture doesn’t show is my family at home and my 2 year old’s foot in plaster due to a fracture he sustained yesterday after I left. It doesn’t convey my mixed emotions about being in one location for an important event, hanging out with my awesome family here and being away from my maternal role with all the anxiety that ensues. It doesn’t convey the echoes of utter loneliness and isolation I’ve felt when I’ve been the one with two kids in a hospital with little support network. My thankfulness to my mother for being able to stay an extra day, yet the sadness she won’t be there when I return etc.etc.etc.
We pick and choose which scene to share – the cheeseboard or the fractured foot. We naturally filter. We don’t want to be the “songbird who has tales to tell and so many times describes our living hell” (or for that matter your living paradise) as one of my favourite songwriters so eloquently puts it and I paraphrase here. We all filter. We all talk in riddles at times and amazing pictures at others. We are all light and dark and shadows and tapestries. Social media can never convey the real picture, especially when life is so complex. The thing is, I don’t think it should. We need people around us to genuinely share our lives – all the tapestry – but we also need to be wise with who those trusted ones are and know we can’t be vulnerable with everyone.
We are complex, we are wonderful, we are more than our profile.
I was called The Muffin Lady today (Mr Incredible said it was better than “the muffin top lady”) and I realised how quickly one can be defined by what one does. As a back story, I’ve started making mini-muffins for local moms to help ease lunch box stressors and make a bit of pocket money (read: will actually go towards Adventure Girl’s preschool costs). I advertised on Wednesday night and by Thursday had 10 orders! It was a small success and I’ve had muffins coming out of my ears since. For one delivery I couldn’t get hold of the lady whom I was dropping off muffins for, thankfully though she left her phone number and when I called and explained who I was she said “OH, the Muffin Lady!”. (Are you sick of reading the word “muffin” yet? I am! From now on they’ll be referred to be mm’s for mini-muffins). Perfectly understandable considering the context in which she’d met me, however, considering I’d been in the mm business for less than 24 hours it did come as a shock to my system.
This morning I’ve woken to being thankful of my past career as an Executive Assistant which motivated me to set up a spreadsheet of orders when they started coming in. Here are few things that I’ve been appreciating amidst the baking and child-caring multi-tasking:
- Affirmation. As an EA I got quite a lot of affirmation from my colleagues and employer for relatively little effort. I’ve found as a SAHM I get little affirmation for quite a lot of effort. The affirmation from people I’ve made mm’s for is lovely “They are delicious! And my son gives them a huge thumbs up – clients for life!!!”, an hour after delivering some “Thank you thank you!!!!! 24 gone already. Kids descended on me like a pack of hungry wolves!” and “Have just performed rigorous Quality Assurance testing before I give them to the kids… they are delicious!”. It fills a void I’ve been feeling for a while.
- I’m being recognised for something I always thought I was good at but now have others confirm that
- I’m meeting a need in my community
- I’m appreciating even more the value of a dollar. I’m charging $8 for 24 mm and with only one mm tray (soon to be rectified) the work/pay ratio is much, much less than I used to be earning. Throw in delivery and time it’s making me once again weigh up that $4 for a coffee or $30 for a weeknight dinner with a girlfriend. Not to say these aren’t appreciated – it’s just got me thinking about saving pennies to make pounds again.
- I’ve been a lot more productive with other aspects of my time. My kitchen is cleaner and subsequently my house is too.
- My hands on time with the kids has also been more creative – having an outlet for ME and feeling validated for it has pushed me to go out and jump in muddy puddles with them.
- I recognise I didn’t have the energy for this before. I look back with thankfulness my capacity is slowly growing.
Oh, and back to the point I started this post with. People should be valued for who they are more than what they do… but recognise what they do too. One can so easily be defined by what one does and that labelling can have a pigeon holing effect. Let’s not do that to people – we’re all so broad and complex creatures, lets look for the facets in the diamonds around us rather than just labelling the rock.
This week Adventure Girl started preschool. It’s a lovely community pre-school and we had all our eggs in the one basket for where we wanted to send her. We’d been there quite a few times, we’d dropped in unexpectedly, we went to a psychologist talk that they put on for the community, we went to the open day and every single time we had our choice confirmed. Allied health professionals all spoke highly of it, friends who sent their kids there raved over it… and so our choice was made. But it’s all the little things that lead up to the days like this that make you realise your little girl is getting bigger and one day she’ll be walking out the door into her own, separate life. Stopping breastfeeding and her feeding herself, no longer needing the pram when we go out, being able to have a solid conversation with her and enjoy each other’s company. Little by little it’s the every day things that change which creep up on you and hit home when a milestone like this happens.
She was ready… I was…. not so ready. So the night before I sat down with a glass of wine in a glass I use all too rarely and watched of The West Wing. I zoned out for a time, the back of my mind reflecting on these changes and the next day proudly watched her as she waved good bye to me and started the first day of her formal schooling life. Each day, when she comes home from her two days of preschool, I write in a little book what she’s told me was the best and worst things about her day, any other comments she’s made and what she ate in her lunchbox so I can share these with Mr Incredible when he comes home. This is how I’ll celebrate the little things of her life at this stage… and how I’ll be able to reflect each days on the highs and lows. For the moments that those fail, I might just return to my comfort food.
“I hugged my child to sleep tonight, thinking about yours. Praying for you. Praying for your own mum. Praying for all those who grieve.”
I wrote that on Friday night after hearing the most devastating news. A two year old boy, whose family I know, died. I hugged my child to sleep that night. I haven’t been able to let it go. I carry the grief of that news and that little life lost. That spark extinguished. I carry that grief with me to the two other funerals I’m attending this week. One here in Sydney, the other in QLD where I’ll travel later this week. Three families… all grieving. My own family needing me. My own heart feeling oh. too. much.
Some weeks we need to stop. We need to be ok with saying “sorry, I can’t face people and superficial conversations today” and hunker down to take care of ourselves (and our families) instead of pushing ourselves beyond what we actually need to.
I’ll post on Friday the recipe of the cake I’m making for my childhood friend’s funeral. It’s an incredible orange almond cake. Until then though, be kind to yourself and be kind to others… you just don’t know what journey they’re walking.
Seriously, I love my local bookshop. An independent seller that serves great coffee and has a fabulous selection with knowledgeable staff plus funky gifts. I visit, on average, twice a week… the baristas know me by name and they make the best coffee in the shopping centre (mall). While I’m there I’ll often browse the shelves and if there’s a book I want to buy, I’ll buy it there. The coffee shop is an incentive for my kids who join me for grocery/market/other shopping. If it all goes well then, as a treat, they get “cold milk in a take-a-way cup” and I get a coffee. If it all goes pear shaped, I get a large coffee 😉
Recently though, I got up the courage to pay my library fine (as an aside, does anyone else have mental blocks about issues? They stay inside my mind until I get the courage to share / conquer them and then I wonder why I’d made it into such a big thing). I’d made my library fine into a mountain of unscalable proportions and was pleasantly surprised when I finally ventured into pay it (and reinstate my library membership) that it was not nearly as expensive a bill as I’d led myself to believe. $20. $20 had stopped me from borrowing books and tempted me to buy them instead. How utterly dense of me.
I walked out with this pile of books. If they’re really good I’ll put them on my “wish list” and if they’re not I’ll stop eyeing them off in the bookstore. The two can work hand in hand – I can still support my ‘local’ and use our money wisely. In the meantime, Mr Incredible can chuckle at my bedtime reading.
Can I be honest with you? Of course I can… let’s face it, if you don’t want my honesty you won’t keep reading! The past three days have been exhausting. Adventure Girl, now three* has been quite ill: Fevers, not eating, not drinking. My usually great eater has cumulatively over these days only eaten a small handful of food. As such, I’ve found myself in the kitchen for 2-3hrs each day trying to create nutritious food to tempt her stomach and heal her body. At the same time, since we’ve just gotten home from a week away, I’ve found the creative energy to consider our food options more closely and try out a few things. I’m exhausted, she’s starting to get better and I’ve made a loaf of bread for my GP… all in a week’s work really!
All of this to say, I’m kick starting this blog with the following aims:
- To remind myself of the adventures we have, the memories we create and the food we eat. In sharing these I hope to
make people envious encourage people that memories are more important than money, that you don’t have to put life on the back burner once you have kids and highlight some awesome locations in our area
- To inspire myself (and possibly others) to eat well and consider that what we consume has huge implications upon our lives. As a friend recently shared on social media “The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison”. For me, and this blog, at the moment this means wholefoods but also looking to understand and learn from other people’s journeys and choices.
- To have a place to vent my rants and give my reflections/opinions – a safety valve if you will
- To have fun and give myself a creative outlet: something others might enjoy taking part in.
Thanks friends who have encouraged me to write again – I hope I don’t bore you to tears xx
*Since I last posted quite a lot has happened in our lives! Bump #2 aka Dash has been born and my husband has also been diagnosed with a wheat allergy, a small change with significant implications.