9.07.2010

colour me my own

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About a month ago, I tentatively explored the idea that some of what we do 'For The Children' is really for us. Who wants to paint sunflowers this afternoon?  Well, mama does, actually, but she's not going to be able to unless she gets those adorable, busy, demanding kids involved too.  We are martyrs to the laundry, the sleep deprivation, the endless snack times, and we are martyrs to the role of being creative facilitators rather than creative doers.

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Still, WE are curious, WE want to see and taste and think about things. But, as it often goes when we have children, we put our own needs secondary to the needs of our family. When our personal curiosity and ambitions refuse to die a soft death, we sublimate our desires through our children.

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Is having the children be involved in what we are personally interested in healthy for them?  Probably.  It's good to be exposed to all sorts of experiences, not just the eating candy and making mud pies types of things they want to do nine times out of ten.  Who is it that said that you can only learn what you can imagine?

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Is it healthy for us to think that our creative desires can only be explored through a child-centric activity?  Can we paint only when the children are painting? Is this life really all about them? Intellectually, no, of course not. On the front lines, well, it's better sometimes to pretend it's all about them and get our fun in when we can.  It's called compromise and multi-tasking and not living in a vacuum (without also doing the vacuuming).

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The thing is, over time, if we can never admit that WE are painting today because WE wanted to, then we forget there is a space. We are not them, they are not us. We can only bridge the space with love, but never fill it closed. Then when they want to paint robots or their fingers or Dora the Bloody Explorer instead, we have no distance to see this is not a big deal. We become too invested that it is done just so.  Our way.

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The truth is, when we are interested in our own stuff, WE are more interesting to other people.  

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The truth is, it's better to turn on the television for an hour while we paint sunflowers, by our own hand for ourselves, then to try to convince the kids that it is them that really want to do it.

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The truth is that they want you to go get a life, and then bring your energy and enthusiasm home to them, to fuel the play, learning and love. The truth is, that is all we want for them. The only way to give it to them is to live it ourselves.

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13 comments:

  1. Very interesting post! It's an excellent point you make about finding the balance between doing things for our kids and doing them for ourselves, and also being able to recognise and appreciate those moments. My kids are 4.5 and 3.5 and I find I'm doing more craft with them now then only last year because I am enjoying what they are doing and seeing their imagination flourish...and maybe also because now I dedicate a lot more time to my artwork at night when they're in bed that I'm not the frustrated crafter vicariously living through my kids paper collages that I was in the past!
    PS thanks for the reminder of the flowers with food colouring idea!I LOVE this one ;)

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  2. For me you always seem to manage to clarify particular thoughts and feelings that I am having around the same time. This allows me to put things into perspective and move forward in a far more positive manner. Life has been a little rough here at the moment and a reminder to not forget about myself while putting everyone else first is just what I needed. Thankyou.

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  3. You have nailed it! We have to have some resources/interestingness of our own to be really good care-takers. So many many parents don't realize this.

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  4. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog. I love your writing, your pictures and your fantastic ideas. you inspired me to start my own blog, its nothing compared to yours, but i love it and cnat wait ot see what it grows into. I'll definitely have to do the flowers in dye with my 4 kids soon. i especially love your posts about Smooch, she sounds so much like my almost 8 yo daughter, the huge personality, the never ending desire to learn and explore, etc... Thank you for your blog, please continue your awesome work! -Serra @ motherofchaos-serra.blogspot.com

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  5. Charity,

    Your blog is, as usual, amazing. You certainly don't need me to tell you that!

    I just thought I'd pass along an idea for you. After seeing your beautiful, hm, re-colored flowers it occurred to me that they would be quite stunning if you pressed them and then used them for something fun. I'm not sure what, but I know you'd make it beautiful.

    Jade @ mymessymermaid.blogspot.com

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  6. My mom always told me, make sure to teach your kids *everything* you know. So everything, from how to plan a meal to how to fix a squeaky door to how to handle an uncomfortable situation. They can take what they want from those lessons, and then it leads to other conversations...other skills that we can both learn (parent and child).

    That doesn't make any sense. I'm going to bed lol.

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  7. thank you for these thoughts. . .you have such a way with words!

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  8. Love it! Your words and photos do a flawless dance in this post!

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  9. I absolutely love what you say in this post ! It is so hard, with 4 little children ( ages 7, 5, 2 and 2 months) to find some time to do what I want, on my own.

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  10. hear, hear!! it is no bad thing to sometimes set the children in their beds with toys and books galore, or send them outside to play, or pop in a sesame street, so that I may knit or sew or (dare I say it) even check my email for 10 minutes in peace.

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  11. thank you for this. I don't have kids (yet) but I'm always thinking seriously about the dichotomy between meeting my needs and meeting all of theirs.

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  12. Whoa, that is crazy! Wonder if some colors work better than others...

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