My great-grandparents lived on a farm in Tennessee and had six children. While my great-grandfather was in the fields, my great-grandmother cleaned the house, rocked babies, boiled diapers in a pot on the stove, made and mended clothing and blankets, baked three meals a day from scratch and canned homemade jam and vegetables from their own fields and gardens…just to name a few things. I remember sitting in her lap when I was little while she guided my hands with her knitting needles. She patiently helped me and my sister while we made miniature pies alongside her in the kitchen. We were always excited to play with an ancient doll, a collection of old, tiny make-up pots and wooden spools on the rug she made herself. Her house was a special place for us.
Now that I stay home with my two sons, I’ve decided my great grandmother was Super Woman. Though these two little boys fill me with love, laughter and inspiration on a daily basis, many days I feel like just getting us all bathed and fed one real meal by 11 a.m. is about all I can handle. Between sweeping up crumbs, wiping noses, changing diapers, washing a load or two of clothes and trying to get us ready for SOME kind of outing (sometimes it’s just a trip to Target), I often find it’s time for dinner/baths/bed before I blink. And as I sit on the couch with my glass of wine in an exhausted stupor at the end of the day, I am grateful for the sticky hugs and the general chaos, but I can’t help but feel like my own sense of self sometimes seems to slip by me along with the day.
I’ve found myself wondering–is this who I want to be for my children? What will they remember about me when they’re grown up?
I have always been a creative person. I was the kid who happily played with my toys for hours. I made my own dollhouse out of cardboard and made a sequined butterfly mural in my closet (a true masterpiece). As I got older, I scribbled stories in stacks of notebooks, and I learned to draw and paint. When I was pregnant with Henry, I finally learned to knit. I learned to sew with a sleeping newborn Abram wrapped on my back. I have a small suitcase filled with tubes of paint. I have stacks of beautiful fabric waiting to be made into quilts and scarves. I have knitting needles, crochet hooks, embroidery scissors, beads, thread, rulers and LOTS of yarn. Oh, and one new creative endeavor that I attribute solely to those two little balls of energy and dirt, is a love for photography.
When Betsy and I first started talking about founding MAMA, it felt like the missing puzzle piece. It is a way I can physically separate myself from the dishes, dirty clothes and piles of Matchbox cars to make a little time for myself while my children are safely nearby. I can complete some of the projects I’ve been dreaming about, I can organize the growing pile of photographs and do some handwritten notes. I can make some new friends and grow closer to the ones I have. The circle can close on this line of work I’ve chosen; and I can bring myself a little closer to my great-grandmother’s legacy. And maybe my kids one day will remember me, at least partly, for being a really creative person.