(Mom and I making cookies at her place)
My parents were pretty strict with us. By some people’s measure, it could be said that they were down-right controlling. There wasn’t a whole lot of wiggle-room for personal preference when it came to how we dressed or how clean we kept our rooms. There were some pretty clear guidelines on the types of grades we needed to get in school and the kind of company we could keep as well. This was, of course, their attempt to keep us on the straight and narrow. And for all intended purposes, it worked. Both my sister and I are educated, reasonably successful and law-abiding citizens.
That being said, however, when it came to us expressing our creativity through artistic projects, they made sure that our universe was limitless. We were not only given free rein to do almost anything, but were encouraged to do so. This was freedom…this is how we shined.
Thinking back on it as an adult, I question whether or not I would allow my own kids to do the sorts of projects I did independently… I remember sewing my dolls clothes with my mom’s Singer and baking cookies on my own while she cleaned the house. I also remember sitting at the work bench in the garage for hours creating who-knows-what with bits of wood, paint and a very hot glue gun without any type of supervision. I am happy to report that I still have all 10 fingers and am free of any permanent burn marks or scars but… I wouldn’t risk it with my own kids if I were to ever have any. (OK, ok, so “who’s the control freak now?” I get it… )
Ever since I can remember, my mom has been the queen of creativity. When my sister and I were little, she made toys for us out of felt, sewed us dresses and Halloween costumes, baked us cupcakes to take to our friends at school, pickled the vegetables she had grown in our backyard, crocheted us afghans, hats and scarves and prepared the most comforting dinners… all while looking stunningly beautiful in her totally 80’s blue eye shadow and awesome permed hair-do, of course.
As if having the most beautiful, loving, culinarily-talented and crafty mom in the whole universe wasn’t good enough, she was a willing teacher as well. The best part was that, although she was teaching me a skill she had already mastered, most of the things I remember us doing together were experimental to her. Although she knew how to crochet, the stitch was new to her. Although she was a great cook, the cake or cookie recipe was new to her. Although she was a great seamstress, the pattern was new to her. Seeing my mother giggle at her own mistakes and curiously try different ways to create something always filled me with wonder and the desire to do the same.
The projects were inspired by us and she inspired us by making them with us. What could be a better life lesson or expression of love?
Now that I work at a school and have lots of little munchkins to make things for (and with), I find myself newly inspired to experiment myself. Popcorn “witch hands” for Halloween, pumpkin muffins, “Kindness Quilts”, quirky bulletin boards and decorative cupcakes… I could create an infinite list of projects I’d like to try and I’ll always wonder if I’m having more fun than they are while we work on them together.
Who taught you the value of creativity? Who inspires you now? What new projects are you working on? Please share!!