Yesterday’s Artists, Today’s Inspirations: Homeschool Art History Class 4, Edgar Degas

Last week, my students and I jumped forward several hundred years to the period of the Impressionists and Edgar Degas.  As I explained in class, the reason I jumped forward is simply because I only have time to introduce them to eighteen new artists and so I simply chose the ones I wanted to  study based upon personal interest.  There are plenty of artists one could study during the time between Michelangelo’s death and Degas’s birth, but I chose to skip over them. When you are writing your own curriculum, you can do this sort of thing.

Timeline information is as follows:

Edgar Degas

1834-1917

France

Our fast facts for Degas are:

  1. He was a perfectionist.

2. Was considered to be a founder of impressionism.

3. His favorite subject was ballerinas.

I started out reading aloud some biographical information about our artist which I found on this link.  Once I finished reading the information, each student was given a color sheet of The Dance Class and were encouraged to color the picture as I read aloud from Chasing Degas, a beautiful picture book told from the point of view of one of the dancers in this famous painting.  Not only does this book introduce the children to Edgar Degas and his ballet painting but it also allows the reader to catch glimpses of several of his contemporaries.  After reading this book, students should have a firm grasp on the Impressionists and their place in time (the 1800s)  and location (Paris, France).

Children also received a map of France for his or her notebook.

After we read the picture book, I told the children about the 14 Year Old Dancer, the only sculpture that Degas ever displayed during his career as an artist.  Together, the students all created their own version of this sculpture using aluminum foil, pipe cleaners, and coffee filters.  Since we had so many wooden craft sticks leftover from a previous project, each student received a wooden platform onto which their dancer was hot glued upon completion.  The class seemed excited and proud of their creations and, yet again, I was fascinated by how original all of the creations turned out to be.  No one created a dancer that looked like any of the other dancers.

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For further study, if you have access to it, please check out this dvd. We were able to check it out from our local library.  My daughter called it fascinating!

Next week, I’ll be introducing my students to Mary Cassatt, the first female artist to appear on our timeline!

Scouting Out a New Heritage

As my children and I celebrate the Supreme Court’s lifted ban on marriage equality, I couldn’t help but remember details of our (less than pleasant) stint in the (conservative alternative to Girl Scouts) organization American Heritage Girls.  Realizing I never did get around to blogging about that whole ordeal, I decided this was a good time to let it all out.  All of that shame, humiliation, and discomfort that my daughter and I experienced… right here.

Years ago, I learned about AHG online.  I’d always had ill feelings toward Girl Scouts for their support of organizations that leave a bad taste in my mouth.  I have strong feelings against Planned Parenthood for personal reasons and the fact that they (Girl Scouts) financially supported this organization bothered me greatly.  Also, I was still trying to do the conservative thing and be the conservative wife and mother.  So, mental note, if a troop ever formed nearby, I’d check it out.

We attended an open house and immediately I was bothered by what I saw and heard.  I was told that pledging allegiance to the flag was not optional and I had to sign something saying that I believed marriage was between a man and a woman.  While I didn’t want to sign this document, I went ahead and did it (when will I ever learn?) because my daughter said she wanted to participate and I’d dragged her there so… I signed.  I justified it by saying that, at the time, same sex marriage was not legal so therefore, technically, marriage in our state WAS between a man and a woman.  They should have written the statement differently.  Loophole.  Loopholes everywhere.

I didn’t want to leave my daughter alone with these strangers so I was also required to purchase a membership just to be allowed to sit in the room with her.  Okay.  RED FLAG.

Once the meetings got going, I could see that my daughter wasn’t happy.  She felt awkward at the meetings and like she didn’t fit in.  They didn’t allow her to join in with her grade.  She had to be put into a group based upon her age and she was significantly more mature than the rest of the girls in that group.  Eventually she made one friend but that child was in the older girl’s group because they met at a homeschool activity and were in the same grade.

Also, the joke was on them because I literally did not stand for any of their pledges.  I sat during each one, just daring them to try and make me stand.

We are pretty big on follow through here at our house.  If you start something, unless there is abuse or danger or some other terribly good reason, you finish it.  Just simply not having a ton of fun wasn’t a good enough reason to drop out of American Heritage Girls so we continued.  We worked on badges at home and participated in the extra activities outside of meetings.  My daughter hated every second of it but, confession, I thought it was kinda fun!

Still, there was a part of me that felt uncomfortable. For one thing, I noticed that at the beginning of one meeting, the leaders prayed, publicly, for “marriage to remain only between a man and a woman.”  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  Were they seriously praying about gay marriage?  This would not sit well with my daughter. And it certainly didn’t sit well with me.

At the beginning of one meeting, a girl approached my daughter and the first thing she said was, “Why does your mom homeschool you?”  My daughter was taken aback.  She’d never been asked this question before so she responded in her most defensive tone, “Um, because she doesn’t want me to grow up to be stupid.”  While I laughed hysterically at this response, we did take a few moments to discuss alternative responses should such a circumstance arise again in the future.  I believe we decided upon, “Because it’s what she feels is best for our family” to be a better answer.  But come on, when someone approaches you with a question phrased in such a manner, they are kinda asking for it!

During our 14 months of being involved with AHG, I felt humiliated several times.  Perhaps the most humiliating situation was when my girl was earning her theater badge.  One of the requirements was to be part of a production and then invite your troop to attend the performance.  This “children’s show” called Goldilocks and the Three Bears had closed-to-parents rehearsals.  Great.  I have stuff to do.  So I dropped my children off at the theater and went on my merry way. My husband and I made plans to attend the very last performance.  Meanwhile, four families from my daughter’s troop had purchased tickets.

Little had I known that the show included drug and alcohol references and a lovely little song about bras, with the actors (all children, mind you) holding a variety of bras.

Now, I’m no prude.  My kids watch all matter of “not appropriate for children” material and I’m fine with it. But in the context of government funded children’s theater, I take family-friendly very literally.  That should mean all (or at the very least most) families should be able to attend the production.  Considering what I had learned about the level of conservativeness in the AHG community, I was certain I must do something and I needed to do it quickly.  I went home and wrote a letter of apology to the four families who purchased tickets.  Two of them responded graciously, laughing it off.  Another family didn’t respond at all.  And the troop leader?  She’d been forewarned about the material from a friend who attended the show opening night and made the judgment call to keep her children at home.  She didn’t blame me but I could tell from her letter that we were parenting in two entirely different worlds. Still, I felt like had a level of respect for me, especially when I wrote the appropriate emails of complaint, requesting her ticket money be refunded.  I’d done all I could.

So imagine my surprise a couple months later when I asked her to spread the word about my public Q&A session with Veterans at the public library and I was met with great resistance.  My homeschool co-op put together a “Meet the Veterans” event.  It felt like the perfect fit for AHG since they are all about patriotism and loving on our Veterans (a characteristic of the organization I appreciated).  I was called and questioned at length about why my co-op is secular.  What did that mean?  Why did I choose to involve myself with a secular co-op (which I started, by the way)?  After I answered her probing and irrelevant-to-the-event questions, I felt mentally violated.  I never could figure out why the answers to these questions mattered when it came to informing the other AHG homeschoolers about our Veteran’s event.  I was humiliated.

My daughter eventually experienced humiliation as well.  The night of the last awards ceremony, my daughter wasn’t informed that she was to go up with the other 2nd graders.  She sat there waiting for the 3rd graders to be called because she was in 3rd grade.  Anyone would be confused.  She stood there, waiting for the announcer to call her name.  They never did.  Finally, they saw her there and said her name very quickly just to get her moving off of the stage.  She was never actually recognized.  She was so confused and I felt terrible for her.  Someone should have remembered that she’d been stuck with a bunch of kids in a different grade from her own.

At her final meeting, we both decided that it was high time our family and AHG go their separate t ways.  She left that meeting horrified.  I did too.  She witnessed one of the leaders in her classroom verbally abuse her developmentally delayed daughter over misusing a wipe.  I witnessed a mother in the lobby slap a little boy in the face for basically just existing.  We were both heartbroken.  This was not an environment in which either of us felt comfortable.  I told her that night we’d not go back in the fall.

I asked the troop leader, a month or two later, to remove me from the mailing list once she started sending out reminders about the upcoming school year.  It was then that she apologized for the embarrassing mix up which had occurred the night of the award’s ceremony.  When I explained that my daughter had been crying, begging to not go to meetings, and that I couldn’t keep forcing her, the troop leader kindly offered up prayers that she’d find an activity she truly enjoyed.  And I believe she was sincere.

Now that I’ve had a full year to reflect upon the entire experience, I’m, more than anything, just glad to be away from it.  I’m sure they’ve issued a formal statement about the decision made by our Supreme Court yesterday.  As soon as the Boy Scouts instated their policy of homosexual acceptance, I received an email from AHG stating that they were suspending any and all affiliation with the BSA organization.  No doubt there are plenty of AHG members praying about the fate of our country.  Certainly the leaders of the organization are making plans to “take back” our nation for the sake of our girls.

Meanwhile, I took this picture of my daughter last night.  When I took it, I didn’t realize she was wearing her AHG shirt.  But it seemed rather fitting that she’d be donning her most patriotic attire on a day when we were all feeling a little bit more proud than usual of good old ‘Merica.  I’m thankful for a daughter who tolerates, loves, and accepts unconditionally.  She learned all of those things without the influence of some religious sect disguising itself as a “scouting troop”.

gaycookies

Relentlessly gay cookies in celebration of marriage equality.

24 in 2015

I don’t normally do New Year’s Resolutions.  Instead, in November, near my birthday, I reflect upon tumblr_mwh18ysraK1smhhjlo1_500the previous year and I adjust my life goals accordingly.  But this previous birthday didn’t feel the same to me.  Maybe because we were so busy with other things?  I didn’t have much I wanted to add or change about what I’d been doing so I guess maybe that’s a good thing?

Today is the first day of the new year.  After eating less than ideally over the holidays, I’m back on my paleo-sugar free diet (less because it’s the new year and more because, as of today, the holidays are over and I can put them out of my mind again for another ten months).  I’m planning to sit down with my three children and help them work on some reflection thanks to this awesome printable a friend shared and we’re also going to work on some goal-setting using this link as inspiration.

When the kids and I have our little New Year meeting, my intention is to share with them a goal that I came up with while on our trip so that they know we are in this together.  While we were driving to Florida a few weeks ago, I was investigating free audio books and free Kindle books to enjoy while trying to stave off vehicular-related anxiety.  I decided to combine the use of my Kindle app with the use headphones and listen to a free audio book while also reading along in the text.  Why would I do this, you ask?  Well, that’s simple.  Unless a book is a memoir written by a female comedienne (waiting not so patiently to get word that a copy of Amy Poehler’s Yes, Please is on hold for me at the library, Thank You Very Much), I have a hard time paying it any mind.  I blame the television.  Or, maybe more realistically, I have a touch of the dyslexia that my son inherited from me. Yay genes.

As a preteen I spent a lot of my time reading.  But after college, I stopped reading as much.  And when I did read, it certainly wasn’t what one would call a “classic”.  At some point, my having not read a lot of the great works started to really embarrass me.

So with the help of Project Gutenberg and Loyal Books, I can enjoy many of the classics I’ve previously missed in a way that allows me to (mostly) comprehend the material because I’m seeing it while hearing it.  Also, it’s nearly effortless and it’s free.

Each morning, I grab my iPad which I’ve ideally left on my night stand which I’ve ideally left there with a pair of headphones.  I listen/read for about 15-20 minutes and then I start my day.  Right now I’m over half way finished with The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells and, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually like it.

Next up is Jane Austen because I’ve literally never read or even attempted to read any of her work.  After that, I’m not sure what work I’ll choose but the good news is that the two websites have a great deal of overlap so I won’t have any trouble finding something that works for me.

My goal is to do 24 of these books in the next  12 months.  This is in addition to my funny lady autobiographies.  Yikes!

Wish me luck!

It’s About Love. Messy Messy Love

For the first time since I became a mother, I felt as if I failed at Christmas.

Showing Messy Christmas love by baking for sweet friends.

Showing Messy Christmas love by baking for sweet friends.

The past few months have been crazy.  Fall semester is always much busier than spring but this one was particularly busy.  We left last week, directly following a production of “Annie Jr.” in which my older two children were involved, for a seven-day-long trip to Florida.  This trip involved more traveling than our vacations typically involve and was not exactly restful.  Upon arriving home, there were groceries to be purchased, friends to visit, and the next thing I knew, it was Christmas Eve.

And I was exhausted.  I’d been so exhausted and distracted that I accidentally bought my oldest child a gift I’d told his grandfather to get him.  And due to some miscommunication I don’t quite understand, three of his gifts under the tree this morning had been given to him last night by other family members.  So, at about 1 am I found myself scrambling around trying to figure out what I could do to make up to my child who was receiving significantly fewer gifts than his siblings.  As if that weren’t enough, I also realized that I’d kinda blown off stocking stuffers.  I had a few things for each child’s stocking but, well, it was pretty pitiful.  Maybe I’d meant to take care of that on the trip and just didn’t see anything they would like and it sorta slipped my mind?

Also, as usual, hubby was working last night.  Which meant that I had to do Christmas by myself again. I had to get the gifts out of the closet, stuff the stockings, read the Santa hate mail from the girl, and stress over the incongruity of the gifts… all by myself.  Slammed my head against the shelf in the gift hiding closet as I attempted to stealthily retrieve the gifts without waking the sleeping sweeties in my bed.    Being a single mom on Christmas is extremely lonely.

So when the oldest got up at 5 am, before his dad had time to get home from work with an extra gift, I found myself feeling embarrassed by my shortcomings.  I found myself explaining to him why he didn’t have as many gifts as his siblings and how I was sorry that the stockings weren’t full.  I held my breath, scared that he’d have a melt down, accuse me of not loving him as much as I loved his brother and sister.  Instead, he just looked the gifts over, said, “That’s the coolest backpack ever” about an Adventure Time bag I’d snagged at a local discount store, and proceeded to want to see a picture of the new baby sister that had been gifted to his best friends in the wee hours of this morning.

He didn’t care.

Not only did he not care, he felt the need to comfort me.

And despite the fact that I threw a giant fit, slammed doors, and locked myself in my bedroom where I cried for half an hour after the gifts had all been opened (and, at times, broken, insulted, thrown, and, to be fair, squealed over), he’s continued to be super sweet to me today.

After my fit (and a shower that helped me feel a little better), I announced in my kitchen that I wasn’t okay.  I stated that I felt like a giant failure because of the broken gift, the unappreciated “gross” gift, the Louise hat that didn’t quite fit right, the duplicate gifts,  the lack of stuffed stockings, the chocolate peppermint waffles that fell apart.  My husband promptly responded that I had it all wrong.

Christmas is not about gifts and everything being perfect.  It’s about family and being together and having fun.

“Well, I’m not having much fun right now!” I responded.

Then my five year old entered the room and yelled, “It’s about the looooove.  Christmas is about LOVE!”

I didn’t have anything to say about that.  This little boy understood Christmas better than I did?  How could this be?

And if Christmas was about love, how come I wasn’t feeling very loved at the moment?  After all, I received three gifts… earrings from my girl that I’d picked out and watched her buy, a calendar that I’d bought myself, and some candy that, in all fairness, I love and my son did pick out and purchase for me with his own money. Still, having worked so hard to buy something small and sweet that made me think of my husband, I was hurt when he’d not given me a gift.  First no birthday gift or card.  Then no anniversary gift or card.  And now no Christmas gift or card.  Sure, Christmas may not be about gifts but if it was about love, where was the expression of this love from this man who had promised to love me?

Then came the dreaded epiphany.  I realized that this Christmas wasn’t about the love that I would receive.  Instead it has been about the love that I have been able to give.

My reality is that I’m of very little use.  At least I don’t feel very useful.  I’m not great at anything.  The one thing that I might like to do for a career (work as a doula or a midwife assistant) is just beyond my reach because if I were to go through the training, I’d still have my husband’s night job standing in my way until  my children are old enough to be left alone at night for extended periods of time.  Heck, even my attempt to serve as a Bible teacher at church has left me feeling rejected, misunderstood, and completely useless.

I’m simply not much good to many people.

What I am good at, however, is loving people.  Some folks will tell you this is absolutely not true.  Those are the people who have met my attempts at friendship with contempt, judgment, and criticism.  Those people don’t get a vote.

But there is a whole other group of people who would tell you that I’m a damned good friend, a wonderful mother, and a service to my community.  Because those people see my actions and the love behind them.  Best of all are the folks in my life who let me love on them.  2014 has been a year filled with many opportunities to love on people.  I’ve been able to be the hands and feet of Christ, outside of the church walls, over and over again this year and I can honestly say that I finally feel like God is using me and my talents more than ever. While I still feel like I could make a bigger impact on the world around me, I can at least see myself as a blessing to others.

Clearly, my little guy was right… Christmas is about love.  And this afternoon I’ve dried my tears and I intend to spend the remainder of the day resting, taking care of myself, making food for my family, and maybe watching another one of my favorite Christmas movies.  I will feel grateful that my life is filled to the brim with people who I love.  Who let me love them.  And I will love on my kids too, because they are a huge part of my ministry and were given to me, specifically, because I am capable of loving them best.

I may have forgotten to fill my children’s stockings but I can certainly be intentional about filling their hearts.  And I will make it my mission to try and fill my husband’s heart as well, forgiving him for what may have simply been an oversight on his part as much as the stocking stuffers were an oversight on mine.  But even if it wasn’t an over sight, it doesn’t matter.  My true gift is being given another day to love on him.  And I can totally do that.

Eclectic Decor for an Eclectic Family

When I was younger, I used to dream of moving to the Big Apple.  The theater, the art, the interesting people, the hustle and the bustle all seemed so very… romantic to me.  Of course, this was before I actually knew myself and realized I wasn’t a city girl at all.  Still, something about a place potentially full of weirdos like me was so very appealing to this girl stuck in Middle Tennessee (a place that has only started to grow on me once I started my journey as a homeschool mother).  In theory, had I ever actually gone forward with this fantasy, I would have been so very lost.  Trying to figure out where in NYC I would best fit in would have been no easy task.  Probably, I would have needed a resource, perhaps something akin to this amazing Neighborhood Guide by Urban Compass would have helped me figure out which area of the city would best fit my lifestyle and personality.

As a family with rather eclectic tastes, it would have been nice to have had a resource like Urban Compass available to us eight years ago when we were house hunting.  We are certainly a group of people who rarely fit in anywhere!  Nothing reflects how odd we are better than our home decor.  Even the holiday decorations that adorn our living space mirror how eccentric we happen to be.

Eclectic is the best word to describe our homeschooling style and I’d dare say it’s also the best word to describe our Christmas decor. From natural touches to pop culture figures, our home displays a wide-range of tastes, revealing the scope of interests represented in our household.

Just take a look.

SONY DSCThis year we bought a new Christmas tree for our living area.  Twelve years ago, when my husband and I were planning our holiday-themed wedding, we purchased two used, but matching, Christmas trees from a local thrift shop.  I gave one of them to my mom and kept the other for our new home.  By this year, it was in disrepair and looked terrible.  Plus, if I am being honest here, I have always detested green Christmas trees and instead dreamed of having this vintage get up here (and I will some day, dang it.  Just you wait and see).  Hubby wasn’t down with spending this kinda cash on a Christmas tree this year, though, and he also didn’t care for this rainbow tree I went on about so it was to Walmart he traveled for a $30 white tree.  He got colored lights with white wire and all was well in the world.  Except it was so well, that I have not exactly wanted to put any ornaments on this tree.  Some might find it hard to believe but once in a while, I believe that less is more.  And the simplicity of this white tree with colored lights… I don’t want to tarnish it.  My oldest son was not happy about the lack of ornaments on the tree, despite the fact that I decorated the tree he had in his hospital room four years ago when he lived there for the holidays.

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Nope, this was no comfort to him at all.  He’s pretty angry with me about the whole “new tree, no ornaments” endeavor.  In fact, he claims that this new tree is “ruining all of our traditions.”

Did I mention we have a house full of aspies?  😉

Anyway, we had some lights leftover from the green tree so I used them here on this small table where we are keeping our plate and cup for Santa’s cookies and eggnog (and Ridiculous Chocolate) which we will serve him on Christmas Eve, despite the fact that everyone around here knows it is just a game.  On top of the table, you’ll see our Trader Joe’s Advent calendars… the only Advent I’ve had time for this year what with having two children involved with a local production of Annie Jr.

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Some of our decorations are ones passed down from my childhood.  Growing up, we didn’t have much, and most of what we did have were things that I never would have wanted to bring into my own home.  However, I am so thankful for a few items that remind me of the Christmases from my past.  My good holiday memories aren’t about gifts.  Gifts stressed me out so I blocked a lot of those memories. No, my best memories from the holidays are about these specific decorations.  Laying on the sofa, watching the flickering of the candles as the three wise men made their journey to see the newborn king.

SONY DSCI was celebrating my second Christmas as a wife and I was incredibly pregnant with my first child.  The outside of this candle holder wasn’t packaged safely enough and when I opened it, I discovered, to my horror, that it had been cracked.  Amazingly, my husband swiftly found a replacement for $7.00 on Ebay.  The lady who sold it to him was so happy to hear how she had saved his poor pregnant wife’s Christmas by replacing her favorite broken childhood decoration.  Somehow, this part of the story makes it that much more special.  I hope to find more of these so each of my children can have one.  To me, this is how real Christmas heirlooms are created rather than through some forced farce like that creepy elf thing.

During the holidays, I also enjoy decorating with food.  I love how the colors of the season evolve.  In the fall, my antique bread bowl, passed down to me from my great grandfather’s mother, was adorned with oranges, yellows, and greens.  Pomegranates are in season and their color make the perfect coffee table centerpiece.  So simple, practical, and natural.

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But I have to say that our crowning holiday decorative achievement is neither simple, practical, nor natural.  In fact, it was incredibly impractical to fork over the cash this spring for this Simpsons Lego house but boy we sure have enjoyed it.  To further my enjoyment, I moved it to our holiday play table and then I set about decorating it.

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Look closely and you will see Christmas lights on the house made with clay and dental floss.  Lego candy cane poles line the front porch while battery-operated candles give off a flickering and warm light through the windows.  Each member of the Simpsons clan is wearing a fleece scarf, handmade with love by me.  I needlefelted them a Christmas tree (which is surrounded by Lego Christmas gifts) and I even made a wreath out of Shrinky Dinks for their front door.  This work of art is officially my new favorite holiday decoration.  I can’t wait to think of new things to add.  Next year I intend to decorate the inside of the house.

Thanks for joining me on this tour of our holiday decorations.  I’d love to see how the way you decorate your home reflects the personalities of the people in it.

Merry Christmas!

A Season of Sacrifice

Lately, I’ve been feeling… stuck.  I wake up, exercise, take my vitamins, make breakfast, do school, make lunch, do more school, make dinner, take whichever child to whatever activity, work on school plans, watch a little Bob’s Burgers if I’m lucky, collapse, pass out from exhaustion, and do it all again the very next day.  This is my life.

It’s a good life.  It’s the life I’ve chosen.  However, it doesn’t allow room for anything else.  Once in a while, I can carve out a minute to write.  Occasionally, I get to work in my sketch book because I sneak it into our school day.  Every now and then, I happen to be inspired to write a blog post at the same time I have a spare ten minutes to type up my ideas. (I type this as there are three minutes left on the timer before my dinner is finished).  I am an artist.  An artist who is aching to create, day in and day out.  My head is full of ideas.  My problem is certainly not lack of ideas.  No, my problem is that, frankly, this ain’t my time.

These are my times of sacrifice.  Seems unfair since I spent the first twenty-plus years of my life sacrificing myself, my creativity, my desires for school (and for living in an area where the opportunities for young artistic types like me were rather lacking).  I finally have my arms free from babies.  My mind is free from academics.  I’m swimming in artistic ideas and inspiration… in every medium.  But there is just simply no time to make much of it happen.

Earlier this week, I had to make a difficult decision.  Last year, I submitted the play that recently I wrote for consideration to be presented in a monthly Nashville series for local playwrights.  I was delighted and flattered to be offered a spot in March of 2015.  Unfortunately, I had to turn down that spot.  My children are all planning to take part in a local production of Winnie the Pooh.  My oldest has his heart absolutely set on playing the role of Christopher Robin.  As much as I’d like to present my work in this series, I know that I don’t get to do that.  I know that it’s just not my turn.

Maybe I’ve already had my shot.  Maybe I’ll get another chance again when the kids are older.  But this time in my life is about being a mother.  A taxi driver.  A cheerleader.  A teacher.  A facilitator.  If I can sporadically slip a writer’s group meeting in, assuming I’ve had time to write at all, then great.  If not, who could blame me?

I struggle with feeling useless.  Unemployable.  Lacking in marketable skills.  I freak out when I think about ten years from now, trying to find a job while competing with those who are more recently educated and who have real work experience under their belts.  My back up plan is a full time job at Whole Foods.  Okay, I admit.  It’s my only plan.

One day, my children will be able to say that, because of the sacrifices my husband and I made, they were able to spend a considerable amount of time pursuing their passions.  It is my prayer that they will look back upon their youth and feel gratitude.  They will surely know that we gave them our absolute best and that we didn’t spend our best on other people and endeavors.  And maybe they will be a little bit in awe of their cool parents… ones who found a little bit of time to use a sword and pencil during tiny breaks in responsibility.

Surely they will know.

 

The Selling of the Crib

This morning, my husband sold our crib.

It was about eleven years ago when my mother-in-law and I went shopping for furniture for our nursery at USA Baby in Franklin, TN.  She and my father-in-law agreed to buy our crib and changing table/dresser.  They weren’t a set but they had a similar wood color.  The crib was a good investment, we thought, because one could convert it into a full sized bed.  They bought the attachments for the conversion as well.

The crib was built in the blue nursery we’d created and eventually use only once for our first child.  I remember the night vividly.  I’d not slept in months.  He was a fussy baby.  He would only sleep if he was nursing.  Literally.  This one particular night, I was determined to get him to sleep in his own bed so that maybe, just maybe, I could sleep without pain in my neck and side.  Night nursing was killing me.  After forty five minutes of listening to his horrifying screams, I took him out of the crib and he never used it or the nursery again.

Once my daughter was born, we moved across town to a smaller house that never had a nursery.  We knew better.

So today, we sold a crib that was eleven years old and barely ever used.  My daughter used it some when she was a toddler.  My youngest used it a little as a newborn for naps.  But basically, it wasn’t used more than a handful of times and, well, I’m thankful for that.

We don’t have any babies anymore, though my five year old still insists daily that he needs to nurse, despite being weaned more than two years ago.  All of our children are “school aged”.  Our oldest is even in the double digits now.  We don’t own diapers.  Nothing in our house is baby proofed. All three of our children frequently make their own meals and are relatively independent.

We’ve been married for nearly twelve years now.  We’re closer to 40 than we are to 30.  My marriage has miraculously survived the loss of my mother, a mental breakdown (mine), a midlife crisis (his), and a child with leukemia.

It’s not like I planned to have any additional biological children.  We “took care” of that years ago.  But I must admit that this selling of the crib has left me emotional.  I don’t find it easy, here in the last week I’ll ever be 36 years old, to swallow the realization that things are happening so quickly, that time is going by so fast, and, most of all, that having babies is a thing of the past for me. While I do hope to adopt one day, I’ve already said that any child I adopt had better be six or older.  Plenty of people want the babies.  Not me.  I don’t really even like babies.

This selling of the crib.  This passing of the torch to some other family expecting a new addition.  This feeling that I’ve crossed a finish line.  It’s intense.

Last night my nine year old daughter was very ill with a stomach bug that seems to be ravaging my family.  My ten year old, who worships the ground his sister walks on (she did save his life after all), was her caretaker.  He cleaned her up, got her changed, held her hair back like a best friend after a keg party.  He wiped her face with a wet wash cloth.  He slept with her on the sofa so that if she needed him in the night, she could wake him easily.

Watching this, this loving, this kindness, this care, this big boy behavior… it dawned on me what this next stage has in store for us.  Built in baby-sitters, more time together as a couple, finally showing the kids some episodes of South Park and Dirty Dancing, hikes, day trips, their first phones, their first loves, learning to drive.

And so as I shed a few tears for what is lost, what has passed, what will never be again, I smile as I reflect upon the amazing people my kids have become and I can’t help but feel excited.  This next stage is already pretty fantastic.

Here’s to a full night’s sleep!