First, we were busy creating (hence, the blog post below). My hands all dirty with paint and pastel chalk dust steered clear of the pristine (sterile, lifeless) keyboard.
More recently, we found ourselves in rural Maine for a long-awaited and much-needed vacation where I was reduced to a pathetically lazy lump. But this lump noticed things – the sequin stars in the navy night sky, a leaf with perfect dew drops catching the sun’s light, the lanky leanness of my 5-year-old (no trace of toddler puffiness left on her frame), the long, thick lashes of my 3-year-old, the sweet, milky smell of my baby, my husband’s handsome profile and those gorgeous high cheek bones of his, and my own smile transformed from a tired turn of the lips to a gleaming grin by just a few days of real naps where I slipped quietly in to a cocoon of relaxation my body, soul, and mind has been craving, screaming for for months.
Now it’s back to reality. The girls’ nails seem more gritty from all the digging in the earth and their legs remind me of overly ripe bananas, marked with signs of outdoor living, bruises and and bug bites. I have loads of laundry to wash, the backs of ears to scrub, and that dirt settled into those nail beds to remove. But I don’t want to erase it all. I want to hold onto what it was like to love myself enough to say it’s okay to sleep or to lose yourself in that good book; it’s okay to be instead of do. As I write this now, it comes out cliche, empty platitudes we all spout out but rarely live. Still, I’m willing to try. I’m willing to wash our clothes and skin of the detritus of living at a rustic camp for a week without washing away our wonderment, our ability to hold onto the moment rather than planning (or dreading) what’s to come or regretting what should have been said or shouldn’t have been said.
I hope to share pictures and more thoughts of our weeklong respite. For now, I’ll share snippets into our life from the week or so before we left. Looking at this saved draft – photos and words I cobbled together before the leave-it-all-behind fantasy came to life in the woods of Maine, I see I’m not as bad as I sometimes think at capitalizing on my children’s desire to create and to live in vivid colors rather than blurred, muted ones from moving too quickly. These posts remind me of that. So do my journals where I try to not always come off as brooding as Sylvia Plath and occasionally describe the goodness I observe every day if I pry open my stubborn eyes long enough to look, really look.
In Maine, GG (Great Grandmother Jean) and I were discussing letters and journals. “No one journals anymore,” I lament.
“I do,” she says.
“I do, too. I’ve been writing the old-fashioned way since I first learned to write, but I don’t know too many people my age who do that anymore.”
“That’s a shame,” she said. “Because you won’t remember your life. You’ll forget even if you don’t want to.”
Selective memory would be nice, I think. I’d like to forget the time I hurled a muffin across the kitchen in a fit of frustration, but I don’t want to forget afternoons spent dabbling with paint and joy and children who are exhausting and trying but who never fail to color my world with Technicolor wonder.
Lately, we’ve been spending a lot of time creating art (and memories) using old sheets, long driveways, and even little fingernails and toenails as our canvases.
My life, too, is a canvas, and I want to paint it with bold, beautiful colors. I want to splatter it with joy. I want to share it with my children and not hold back any pieces of myself and give and give.
To grow in virtue, they need to see all art forms though. The ones of sunshine and the darker ones, too.
My children are teaching me to create art out of anything and to find joy in everything. I’m teaching them to forgive when things start to get messy. Because I can be very messy in my brokenness. I hope I am helping to sculpt them, shape them, too – at least a little – to be good artists, people who create and give love everywhere they go.
Motherhood is helping to mold me more into His image. It’s His workmanship I admire the most.
Maker of all things, I pray my children might catch glimpses of You in me. I pray my children will be naturally drawn to You as they are to bright colors.
May my children always feel your gentleness in your arms. May they always look past the mess and find the joy. And grant that I may I do the same.