Saturday, October 20, 2012

Mothers Can be Artists and not Realize it

October 21, 2012
After midnight

I have been looking at Facebook and have discovered an organization called TAFA:  The Textile and Fiber Art List.  What an amazing collection of people and their art.  Fiber art to be specific.  Some of it is weaving, some quilting and all sorts of other  artworks, all employing the use of fiber.

I want to do this.  I want to be this.   I am a kid in a candy shop looking at their art.  I have played around only a little bit with fiber art, but it looks so wonderful.

Some of it reminds me of the things I did with the kids when they were younger.  I used to put a plastic tablecloth on the kitchen table so messes wouldn’t be a worry.  We would paint with watercolors and occasionally finger paints.   I made play dough and we kneaded the color into it while it was still warm.  I brought rolling pins and cookie cutters to the table for making shapes with the play dough.  I even discovered that a garlic press makes some cool play dough stuff- hair or grass or whatever you wanted it to be.

I wonder if the kids remember weaving paper together?  We could cut colored construction paper into oddly shaped strips and then wove them together and got interesting, wavy and wobbly patterns in our weaving.  And ever since I was little I have loved weaving together little heart baskets from red and green paper for Christmas time.

I am an artist in my own way.  By allowing and encouraging my children to explore making their own art, I was able to be the artist too.   We have always cooked things together.  We made gingerbread houses and boller, that wonderful Norwegian doughy treat.

I made angel food cake for birthdays, and Nick always made the frosting.   Some years when they were young we got fancy.  One year I made a cake for Courtney that had a rainbow on it.  We were in Tromso at the time, and all of her little Norwegian friends wanted the rainbow cake more than the Norwegian cake that was frosted in whipped cream.   That same year, Morgan wants a cake that looked like a frog.   Somehow he was satisfied with the green cake with a few M&Ms on it.

Some of my fun projects were not such a big hit.  For Courtney’s fifth birthday, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I made little flowerpots to look like they had dirt and worms and flowers in them.  The pots had ice cream covered with chocolate powder (the “dirt”) and a few gummy worms on the surface.  To top it off, each pot had a real flower stuck into the dirt.  Well, the kids just wouldn’t eat the “dirt” treats!

Being a mother really brought out my creative self.  I was not always artistic, but I was creative.  We played pin the goggle eyes on Cookie Monster and the kids were awarded “ribbons” I had made out of a deck of cards with ribbon stapled to the backs.

The kids never had store bought Halloween costumes.   This time of year, right now, for 20 years or so, was the busiest time of the year for me.   They told me what they wanted to be and I made it.  One year Courtney was a #2 pencil, complete with a pointed hat that was the point with the lead.  Morgan was several super heroes of his own creation; he was “Thunder Bolt” and “Tidal Wave”.  Austin was a headless horseman and also a space alien that turned out to look more like a baked potato wrapped in aluminum foil.  Darcy was a pumpkin when he was about 14 months old (living in Tromso)
Chance as a Ninja I think- also for a Comic con

Totoro- to be worn at a Comic con
I stressed and sweated over the costumed every year.   I have saved every one of them. 

Sarah as a lady bug courtesy of Great Aunt Nancy (that's me)

About 10 years ago, there was a sort of slow down.  Kids were off at college or all grown up and moved out.  The ones at home were getting too older.  They did have me make some comic con costumes though.  I remember feeling so sad not to be making costumes for the kids.  Another weaning.  I entered new stage in my parenting and the kids grew up and established themselves as independent adults.

Now, here I am with all of my mothering talents and not enough little people to share them with.  I watched Sarah from under the age of two and her little sister, Jessica, from 12 weeks old.   They kept me going as a mom-type.  Always busy. Also exhausting.  Now that they are both in school and after care full time, I don’t see them often.  Mostly it's just nice to play the retired thing.  I still do my lactation consulting and my La Leche League work.  They keep me going!

I do knit almost constantly when I am sitting still.

When I look at the artists I envy, I have to remind myself that a lot of children have apprenticed under me as they became grown ups.   I am an artist.

I am also a tired mom/ wife/ friend/ sister/ great aunt and more…

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