Thursday, June 13, 2013

Robot day and the 4 real reasons I do crafts with my kids

Dear Friends, 
Looking at my instagram feed and this blog you will see a lot of pretty pictures, sweet moments, and a creative thing or two. This is true of a lot of mom-togs and mommy-bloggers. The part I don't like is that sometimes this puts people on a pedestal of having "perfect lives" and it makes moms who don't do things the same feel bad about themselves and their own parenting style.

If we dig a little deeper I think we all know that nobody is perfect and that nobody has it all together all the time. But there is still a sense of disquieting reactions to these types of posts in the mom-media realm.

I hate the idea of anything I share about my life being even the slightest bit hurtful, guilt-causing, or the stem for discontent to another mom. Our loads are heavy enough without adding burdens to eachother.

This post is hard to write because it's baring a raw part of my momma-heart. So hang tight. It might get bumpy. But it's all true.

I want to share why I do creative and crafty things for and with my children. How, as pretty as it looks in pictures, it is for much messier reasons. How it is a matter of survival for me in this time of my life.

I don't do crafts and fun activities with my kids because I am a good mom. I do them because I am NOT naturally good at this role and crafting helps me get better.

Let me explain - not the hundred or so even more complex reasons why creativity is important for humanity, for mothers, or for me as a person or a mom - but specifically in regards to doing crafty things with my kids.

1. A planned, intentional activity (like a craft, game, art project) feels like an apology or a bandaid for the times I was not focused where I should have been. In my mind it says, "I love you. I'm sorry I was impatient and didn't take the time/thought to do umpteen things properly today. But look, I am slowing down now. I am looking at you. Let's do something special." I hope they get that message.

2. I do not have "everything together" a lot of the time. Planning and organizing a project makes me feel put-together. Even when the whole thing rarely goes as planned - the kids get distracted, bored, don't finish, or don't cooperate. It doesn't matter because, even if they run off to play elsewhere or I have to pop in a DVD to buy a few minutes to finish the craft myself, it makes me feel like we added something nice to our day just by planning and semi pulling-it off. It feels like we accomplished something meaningful.

3. Crafting is controlled. There are countless things about life I can't change  - the weather, work schedules, cost of living, health concerns, other people, world issues. But we CAN craft and make our own brand of sunshine. I find joy in practicing that privilege.

4. Group-art is about both self-awareness and selflessness. When we craft together we are each putting a part of ourself into our work; it is personal and expressive. I like seeing my kids' characters in what they make and how they do things. But also, since we are sharing the project, we work together and blend our labors. We are pouring out a portion of who we are, exchanging it with one-another, and taking in the gift of knowing eachother better and learning from eachother. I think that is important as a family and I love watching it as a mom.


So if you see cute-crafts we did together on this blog or in pictures on Instagram you will know the truth:

It's not because I naturally exude cutesy glitter, ruffles, and craft-stick creations.
It's because my human-nature spills much nastier things and crafting with my children helps me clean up the toxic spills - both mentally and relationship-wise. It works like a temporary magic eraser for my anxious, self-doubting, guilty, bored, lack-lustre, uptight issues connected with being an imperfect soul. These times are therapy sessions, cleansing floods, life lessons, quiet love-notes, wordless explanations. They are a blessing.

I don't want to be a better mom than somebody or as good of a mom as someone else.
I want to be a better mom than I am and as good of a mom as I can be.
Crafting helps me do that.

I think we could all use a few such powerful tools in our mothering tool-belt.

What are your "mama-magic" tools? What do you do when all crazy breaks loose and you just need a little something to feel like it's all tied back together for a while?

Raimie Lu

P.s. These were shots from Robot Day.
It was crafty-happy-making at it's best.
Noisy, chaotic, normal, wonderful.
Just what we needed. 

When all else fails, break out your robotic-mom voice.
Pure magic.

Have a beautiful tomorrow, wherever you are.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Out with the boys

Nothing prepares you for being a mom to a little boy.
That intensity - both in sweetness and activity.
The noise. 
The dirt. 
The hugs.

I had a girl first so I already knew what it means to love your own child, what it is like to be a little girl's mama, and I thought I sorta knew my role as a mother at that point. 

Before child number two. 
Before him.

Sons are game-changers.
They love you like you have never been loved.
Your love for them is new too... not more than for a daughter.
Just different.

I even had three little brothers and I still didn't get-it.

The way they play.
The way they drive you to the brink of insanity and reel you back in with those long-lashes and wiley grins.
Actually, just the way they drive. period.

They slip their hands into yours and it's ok that there is dirt in all the pudgy cracks of their boyish fingers.

They hold your heart in the pocket of those favorite shorts - the ones they refuse to admit are too small because they like them and you let it go because you hate to think about how big they are getting.

They tie you up in knots and fly you like a kite on days when your patience is thin.

They teach you to look at things in new ways - "gross" things especially.

They can be quick to instigate arguments with a sibling but even quicker to protect them from someone else.

They are loud and shake the whole house in a storm of galloping feet, tumbling bodies, and limbs akimbo.

They are experimenters, frog-catchers, stray-dog lovers, army guy sketchers, zombie-tag players, sister-thwarters, daddy-helpers, Lego engineers, finger-painters, early risers, storytellers, silly singers, mommy's quick crafters, puddle-jumpers, sword swingers, and cape wearers. 

They take on a plethora of personas and create countless characters.
You can't keep up.

You are thankful this is all "normal".
You love them the way they are.
You just wish they would be quiet for a minute.

And then they surprise you with their quiet attentiveness to something that piques their interest.
You are thankful for those moments immeasurably and they give you the insight you need to last through the crazier times.

This is the blessing of boys.
These are my boys.


A peek into a couple special days I spent with my boys and their classes. It was sweet to focus on them separately and watch them interact with teachers, friends, and peers; like learning other angles of their personalities not always visible at home and as a family.

Plus, I am soaking up the days that moms are "cool" and coveted accessories on field-trips.

My older boy.

My littler boy.

And it strikes me often that this bump could be boy #3.
 My daughter would call me crazy, but I would be alright with that.

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