Last month I shared my first fun foto. It was an idea inspired by the uber amazing Kirsten Piccini. Since her one inspiring tweet I have filled my idea journal with a fun foto theme for each month of the year. Then I wait eagerly for time in my schedule for me to create my next one.
Driving to one of our Spring Break activities my girls sat in the back seat reading their books. My youngest closed her books and from the rear view mirror I see her start to gaze out the window.
“Hey Tricia do you want to see the shapes in the clouds?” she says looking over to her big sister.
“Naahhhh. I don’t want to play that,” her big sister answers.
“Awwwwww,” she says disappointed.
“I’ll listen,” I say from the front seat, “Tell me what you see!”
“I see a dragon, with butterfly wings!” Annabeth sings, “Ohhhhh and there your horse (imaginary) Checkers, Tricia!”
Not one to miss out on the imaginary fun…I hear Tricia say, “I see a dog! OOOOO I see a pancake!”
20 minutes later and too many “seen” cloud formations to name later we arrived at our destination and I was inspired.
I knew Philipa had to do some cloud watching of her own because there is just nothing like that memory of laying in the grass on a warm Summer’s day, (yeah I know its freezing out but the hope of warm weather is what keeps me going) staring up in the sky and letting your imagination take over!
What shapes do you see?
A few weeks ago my husband was out of town for work. Not a huge deal…well it does mean I do it all alone. When he is out of town, I am in responsible for morning wake up, breakfast, getting my girls ready for school, getting myself to work just on time, working a full day, picking my girls up, taking them to their activities, dinner, showers, bedtime…woooo oye! just that alone makes for one very exhausting week. If that was not enough fun my oldest decided it would be a great time to get a fever and a horrific chest cold. Add on missing three and a half days of work to care for her. I just about lost it!
Then this happened. In between the lack of sleep, all my mommy responsibilities, ugggg household responsibilities, a sick daughter and juggling work week this happen….a text comes from a friend checking in on me to see how I am handling it all, a friend sends me home with a dinner for that night, my sister shares with me a super awesome dream she went after, a friend helps with morning school drop offs, a friend listens through all my tears about a family problem and gently and honestly tells me the words I needed to hear. Through all the crazy, through all the stress, through all of what could have been a very lonely time, I was reminded of how very, very lucky I am to have these amazing women in my life. I was reminded of the gifts they give and share with me everyday!
“That’s not fair!!!!!”
“It’s not fair Mommy! “
“No I don’t want to. It’s not fair!”
It has been the phrase of choice for my lovely 9 year old.
The one phrase in the entire repertoire of phrases she could pick from that she knows gets under my skin…it really gets me.
So last weekend as we stood in the kitchen… I reminded her of a chore she needed to do. As quickly as I could tell her what needed to be done the words burst from her mouth, “IT’S NOT FAIR!!” and this time I looked at her I said, “You know that is not true! If it was fair…
Lost for words she just starred at me. While I hoped for her usual giggles, this time I got a stomp and a huff as she walked away. I smiled to myself and then looked up to see who else was in the kitchen with me (I actually was a bit surprised at what had come out of my mouth). I saw my 7 year old looking at me. Starring at each other for a moment I smiled again and then……..ohhhhh the laughter!
Walking to the birthday party from our car Olivia shared with me how excited she was to go to a Hip Hop dance Birthday Party.
“I’ve always wanted to try Hip Hop mommy!” She smiled and skipped as we walked into the building where the party was being held.
“Quick quick Olivia. We don’t want to miss too much.” I urged her.
Walking down the stairs to the dance room I could feel her happiness to be with one of her very best friends on her special day.
The party had started. We were late.Ten seven year olds sat in a circle doing their predance stretching.
“Go ahead Olivia. Go find a spot.”
“No mommy,” she said taking my hand.
“It’s ok Olivia. There’s a spot right ….”
There wasn’t an open spot for her to just jump right in. I scanned the room trying to make eye contact with one of the girls that Olivia would know. She knew no one. Just the birthday girl.
“Go ahead Olivia. It’s time to stretch.”
The dance instructor got the group up and began to have them do steps to loosen them up.
“No mommmmmy. I want to go!” she urged.
Tears began to stream from her eyes. She grabbed me tight and buried her head in my side.
My plan was to I was to just drop her at the party and then go to the local Starbucks to write. I wanted these two hours. Suddenly my wants became secondary. It wasn’t going to happen.
“I want to leave mommy.”
I knew that instant we, I had to stay.
“What if we just sit here and watch.” I encouraged her.
“Ok.” she answered.
I scanned the room again for someone from the party that could come over and welcome her in. The birthday girls mom came in the room. I sighed in relief.
“Ohhhh she could help,” I thought easing my stress.
A quick break in the action happened and Olivia’s friend came running over to her asking her to come dance. Olivia buried her head in my arm and just could not do it.
“What was I going to do? Was she going to sit with me the whole party? What would this mean for other parties?” I worried and wondered.
Suddenly I felt a calm come over me. We came late. She only knows one or two girls. How many adults could walk into a room of strangers and just join in dancing in front of strangers? I couldn’t. How could I expect Olivia to. So we sat. We watched and I softly spoke to her about what I saw.
“Look at those girls dancing. Not all of them are doing it perfectly, are they?” I whispered. “Looks like everyone is just trying their best, dancing to the music.” whispered some more.
Slowly Olivia’s tears began to dry and her grip of my arm lessened. She watched. She smiled. We clapped to the music and she began to enjoy being there.
“Water break!” the dance instructor shouted.
Like magic Olivia’s friend (the birthday girl) and another old friend from preschool appeared.
“Come dance with us Olivia!” they said to her.
Olivia looked at me.
“It’s her birthday Olivia. Do it for her,” I whispered gently.
With her eyes locked on me she smiled and nodded.
“Ok!” she said holding her friends hand and walking onto the dance floor.
The birthday girls mother sat next to me.
“Did you do that?” I asked.
“Yes” she smiled.
“Thank you so much.”
Olivia walked onto the dance floor. The dance instructor smiled at her, came to her and warmly welcomed her giving her a high five. Olivia was front and center, in minutes, learning the dance moves to the big dance number. I sat there I soaking in my momma pride. I hadn’t pushed. I didn’t yell, get firm or try to hard. I took a step back and tuned into where Olivia was at. I respected her and her feelings. I gently made sure she learned that she could feel this way and still be brave enough join in. Finally, after many, many moments of stepping on each others toes, missed steps and disastrous numbers Olivia and I had finally gotten all the steps right. What a beautiful number we danced…together. You should have seen her dance!!
Everyday my daughters create something. They draw, they paint, they glue, they color. Their imaginations over flow with inspiration. They write lists, they author stories, they draw pictures of their day, they illustrate princesses and superheros. As they have grown I have worked hard to encourage their infinite inspiration and boundless imagination. It is a piece of them I want to exist and flow through them for the rest of their lives. In the last two months Olivia’s drawings have consistently become fantastic and left me more and more in awww of her ability to go to some other place and share it through her drawings (yes, total and complete mommy bias).
Suddenly I found myself looking at the world in a very different way. Maybe instead of writing about a memory I could draw too? Maybe instead of taking a picture or sharing words I could share an emotion or thought through drawings. Could I? Could I turn a vision, a thought, an idea into a drawing? So I found a great app on my iPad, bought a stylist and I began to draw….and draw and I drew some more. I began to study my daughters drawings. I watched the details they added. I took notes on their feelings. I remembered how they were inspired. And then I drew some more. Soon I started to find my own style.
After months of studying them and drawing my own pictures I realized it was time. It was time to share my drawings with other. Actually let other human beings (not just my daughters…who are totally bias. I could draw a wiggly lopsided stick figure and they’d say that’s beautiful mommy!!) I channeled a pinch of whimsy and a cup of sweetness and drew for someone I knew would love my art even if it sucked. With a million nervous knots in my stomach I hit the share button…
and when no one told me my drawing was awful I drew some more. Today I find myself with a brand new creative outlet.
I LOVE TO DRAW.
While I am still terrified to share my drawings with others I love it too much to let my new found love be effected by what others think. So today I start what I hope will be the first of many, many, many more inspired illustrations.
I owe this new found passion all to my daughters!
An hour and a half drive. Four hours swimming. Carrying a double ride figure-eight tube up a three-story wooden stair case more times then I can count. Trips down the slides. Rides on the lazy river. Exhausted after a fantastic day, we were finally settled back in the hotel room.
Screeches filled the two-story loft style hotel room we were staying in (beyond a treat for us) as the four girls whirl around discovering each part of it. Walking into the main floor bathroom I discovered the two person, a small child could swim in, jacuzzi whirlpool tub in the bathroom.
“Let’s fill it up. The girls can play in it while we wait for the pizza to get here.” Holly geniusly suggests.
With a deep relieved sigh of a mother with no more energy left, “Yes! That is a great idea.”
I didn’t waste second yelling, “GGGIIIIRRRLS come and see this tub! What until you see what it does!”
Giggles and laughter fill the hotel room as all four girls, ages 4-6 see the tub. Their giddiness and happy giggles turn to screeches as they get in the tub together eager to continue their adventures and fun filled day.
Holly and my friendship started when we started teaching the same year, we were fresh, green, nieeve, brand spankin new teachers. Over the twelve years we shared a classroom (probably close to the most fun, collaborative, creative and one of the most rewarding times in my career). We collaborated, worked together on projects, shared duties, knew all of the kids on each others case loads, grew together as teachers and taught each other tricks and tools we still use today. She got married. I went to her wedding. We had babies six months apart…Twice. We both had two girls. We hung out. We spent time together. We developed a great friendship. Over the twelve plus years we created the kind of friendship that you can go months without seeing each other and then the instant you see each other it is like no time has ever passed. The kind of friendship that when our schedules finally allow us to find free time for each other, I talk her ear off and smile until my cheeks hurt and the time was never enough.
As screeches and loud giggles bounce around the bathroom walls. Holly and I waste no time catching up. We shared stories about our husband. We commiserated and reminded each other we are not the only one whose husband does this or that. We shared our fears about our daughters up coming school year. We catch up on gossip about work.
“Mommmmmyyyyyy!!!!! I think the tub is full enough now!” one of the girls shouts.
Holly and I walk into the bathroom to turn on the whirlpool jets. Excitement ozzes out of our girls as they anticipate the excitement of this brand new experienced. With one firm push of a button the jets come to life. Ear piercing giddy screams fill the room as the girls are surprised by the force of the jets and this newly discovered fun. Smiling, Holly and I go back to the kitchen to continue our chatting assured that the girls will be entertained for quite sometime.
“That was such a good idea putting them in the tub.” I say to Holly. “This will for sure keep them busy until the pizza gets here. I’m sure after all that swimming my girls are ravenous. This will keep their mind off of being hungry ”
“They are having so much fun,” she smiles.
Minutes pass…a half hour passes… soon we begin to hear louder happier, giddier, gigglier fun coming from the bathroom.
“I better go check on them,” Holly says raising her eyebrows, knowing that it is her turn to check.
my attention to the perfect after swimming, before deep dish pizza, during mom and girl talk snack is suddenly interrupted as I laugh out loud, and fall over (seriously… I was on the floor) roaring in laughter and slapping the floor as tears stream down my eyes. And as Holly walks out of the bathroom her I can’t believe I just said that out loud, no one ever told me that combination of words would ever leave my lips, did I just use vagina and jets in the same sentence straight face instantly erupted into uncontrollable laughter!