There are moments, in parenting, when you suddenly realize how very, very flawed you are. And I had one of those moments the other night.
A constant struggle in our house is The Battle of the Artwork. JavaBoy loves to create art projects — at preschool, in Sunday School, in nature classes, and just on his own. JavaGirl also creates art projects, although unfortunately hers are often on the walls or her body. But JavaBoy’s involve either large pieces of paper or lots of tiny pieces of loose paper, or are very elaborate 3D masterpieces. And I love and cherish every single one of them. I really do. I have magnetic clips to display them on the front door and kitchen door, and I have bought each child oversized portfolios so they can flip through their artwork, but there are some pieces of art that cannot be contained and that do not display well, i.e. the 3D “trophy” JavaBoy so carefully crafted out of construction paper.
Oh sure, the “experts” say take a photo of the artwork and throw out the actual piece. They don’t live with JavaBoy — who has the memory of an elephant. Who remembers that the nutcracker he hasn’t seen in a year — from when he was THREE — is missing a single small wooden piece — even before we unpacked it. JavaBoy is a very sentimental, very precise type of a boy — it is part of what makes him uniquely him and most of the time it’s wonderful — except when you are trying to get rid of something. I can’t sneak things out of the house — when it is time to get rid of a toy, it’s with discussion. So tossing artwork is not an option, unless it’s pre-approved by JavaBoy (and he does, at times, agree, that it is time to let something go.)
But oh-too-many-times I get the “but Mommy, that’s very special to me!” Even if I didn’t see any signs of said artwork being special to him.
So while feeling frustrated about that… I looked around my own private space, my home office slash scrapbooking room. Which has become too cluttered, too crowded. What could I get rid of? How can I make this space a little more zen-like? I couldn’t possibly get rid of anything, it’s all too important to me. I mean all these tools, I still use. All these books. Wait a minute… I have my own pieces of artwork. Pieces I have made in classes. But pieces I don’t necessarily love, just held onto b/c I made them. Like the “coffee table tag book” that I don’t really like. It sits there, with no pictures, because it’s just not “me.” Or rather, it’s not “us.”
I love my husband dearly and I’m a sentimental woman, but he’s more on the stoic side, so our relationship is a solid, but not expressed as a gushy kind of love. Don’t get me wrong, we say “I love you” countless times a day, and JavaDad expresses it in other ways like the way he makes me tea or brings me a Diet Coke every morning and rubs my tired feet every night, but in the scrapbooking world, there are people who feel the need to put sentimental phrases on every photo along the lines of “I think of you with every beat of my heart and every breath in every moment of my day” and this particular coffee table book has that on every page. If I used that and put it on our coffee table (okay, I took all the coffee tables out of the house when JavaBoy cut his head open on the corner of one when he was learning to walk, and haven’t put any back b/c JavaGirl climbed on them, so right now it would more likely be a “train table” book), JavaDad would probably vomit and I would feel very disingenuous and our friends would probably think one of us was having an affair. Truth be told, I think of JavaDad quite frequently throughout the day, but I’m also thinking of things like “gosh this carpet needs cleaning” and “holy cow when did JavaGirl do THAT to the wall” and “didn’t I just GO to the grocery store? How have these children managed to EAT everything in the fridge?” So there are a few other thoughts going on besides how much I adore my man.
So, back to being a hypocrite. I clearly am hanging on to too many things simply because I “created” them. I don’t even LOVE them — I just made them and feel compelled to hang onto them. Perhaps it is time for that tag book to either move along to someone who is more willing to rip her beating heart out for her man for breakfast or to dismantle it and take the parts I do like and put the rest in the trash. The adorable Mark Miller fabric birthday hat with the feather trim that I made at Great American Scrapbook convention? I don’t know — totally love it — it makes me smile — maybe I get to keep that. Maybe I take a picture? But I think I need to sit down and really re-evaluate my own “priceless artwork” stash and set a good example for my son in periodically re-evaluating what is still special and when it is time for things to move along.
Fair, is fair, right?