...random experiences, observations and thoughts of my daily life as mommy...past journeys and dreams of journeys yet to be taken creating my life story as i go...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

reflections on art, research, mommyhood and individuals

it is 6:30 a.m. on a sunday. i should not be up. i did not want to be up. but we co-sleep and my children and dog and cat were all competing for who went where and i found myself unable to go back to sleep. maybe it is because i have a lot on my mind. have had a lot on my mind. things i'm working through and trying to figure out...about myself, my family, my place in my world. i don't think my blog concept is that unique and wish i had a better blog title but really "mommy's journey" pretty well describes what this blog is about. when i started thinking about blogging i was really conflicted about my role as a stay-at-home mom. i didn't know any role models, felt part of my identity was tied up to making a difference as a teacher and was worried i would miss the process of learning and keeping my mind engaged with adults at the college level. really i think one of the bigger issues (perhaps a life long issue for me) was balancing dependence and independence. i've always prided myself in being so independent and not "needing" others yet i am so social and enjoy people...on my depressive down days i wish i didn't push myself away and could allow myself more dependence...in fact, i didn't even see the value of dependence until i met my husband...and then again when i had children i was glad they wanted to be dependent on me more than i wanted to foster independence in them (which i think comes naturally when you feel secure)...

anyway, i digress...i really wanted to write about art...so i'll start with a photo from last year's art show at sea's school. i led the "famous artist" lesson and chose monet's sailboats for at least a few reasons 1) my dad loved sailboats and they remind me of him 2) monet was one of my favorite artists as a child 3) sea loves the water and i wanted to see her paint a sailboat

most of the children in her class went with the traditional blues/greens/turquoise with white accents for their primary colors but true to sea's individual nature (and love for the color) she went with an orange sky and an orange sailboat. i love this about her. she can trust herself and go with what she sees or imagines without following the masses (at least artistically!)

this next picture was taken at last year's family art night at sea's school. i have taken over the art corps coordinator position for the school so i will be in charge of this event next year...here is sea giving a "thumb's up" which also reminds me of my dad (he used to do this both to encourage us growing up and also to say "right on!" when he was happy like sea is doing here)...

i met with one of the co-founders of the art corps program (they are professional artists who come to sea's school and lead workshops to teach parents age appropriate art lessons that build on one another...they teach a concept about art and tie it into famous art work so the children are learning both and then get to try to concept on their own art once a month...the parents take the workshop and then teach the lesson in their child's classroom...i taught most of the kindergarten and 1st grade lessons in sea's class and loved it!). i'm really excited to be the face of this program on campus. it will be my job to  get families excited about art at the school...i will do this with a booth at the ice cream social before school, the 1st day of school, the first open house and then have an art corps orientation where people can learn more about art. then i need to be sure there are enough parent volunteers both to lead and assist all the lessons in all the classes...advertise and sign people up for two family art nights sponsored by the PTA, and organize matting of one piece of art per 500+ children in the school for the art show at the end of the year. this is a very parent involved school which is good in many senses but difficult when they have competing agendas for what is most important. i'm hoping to convince them art should be one of the top priorities at the school...one way i am hoping to go about this is to look up research showing how art helps children in school...both academically (they care about things like test scores and grades that are not high priorities to me) and psychologically and personally just how art enriches people's lives (more important to me).

i came from a very academic background growing up (there was a well known medical school, dental school, physical therapy, nursing, etc. in our community where many of the parents worked and these occupations were definitely encouraged over anything artistic). i've always loved art. even when i got a "c" in it in 3rd grade and decided i wasn't very "good" at art i still loved it. i remember taking some personality test in middle school where they asked what type of people you would most want to hang out with at a party and i always chose artistic types as my number one choice even though most of my friends were social people types (my 2nd choice) and i fancied myself a nerdy analytical thinking type (3rd choice).

it is hard to balance the contrasting sides of myself...i love the author anne lamott both because she is really funny and an awesome writer, but more importantly for me because i can relate with her feeling drawn to very liberal and out of the box things yet feeling God and spirituality are equally important (there aren't too many of my hippy type friends who embrace the importance of God in their life...most of them are atheists)...she writes a lot of autobiographical material i can also relate with on her own journeys as a mother...she has a attachment parenting style like mine that i can also relate with...

wow, this post is all over the place. i originally felt motivated by writing about art...yesterday i attended a baby shower for a mom of one of sea's "students"...we became friends last year...she was always really involved at the school and showing up with personalized artistic gifts and homemade cupcakes for various holidays throughout the year. on top of our personal connection of caring about our children and both being involved in the classroom, she is an accomplished artist. our children have the same birthday. i'm not sure how much astrology weighs into everything but they are both leos (july 23rd birthday) close to the watery sign of cancer so they have a strong willed side but are also artistic...

anyway, i met one of her friends who is also an accomplished artist and we were talking about the difficulties with being a mommy and balancing this with other things we are passionate about or just wanting to get away sometimes. i totally get that! i've been reflecting on that idea since i spoke with her. i think i have finally come to a place in my life where i can give up parts of myself to embrace other parts. and i don't feel like i have to give them up forever. my children are 4 and 7. my youngest only has one year left with me before he is off to school and i will have a lot more free time. i want to embrace these unscheduled days of playing with blocks, reading books, making "maps" (he just recently got into making his own art), riding bikes, running in the grass and chasing and/or trying to fly kites. i have a lot of analytical and "deeper" ideas inside of me but right now, at this place in my life, i need to embrace the simpler experiential "moments" of my life...

this rambling is bordering on incoherent so i will end this post shortly and head back to my mommy duties including cleaning out the car of all sandy beach gear, making breakfast, wrapping birthday presents and packing to head out of town to a cousin's party...

but i wanted to include the idea of research (this idea isn't as out of the blue as it sounds...i was reading about research on education on a homeschool group e-mail this morning in bed)...looking at who you influence...groups or individuals...i studied psychology in college and graduate school...pre-kids i loved research and wanted to read and conduct my own to try and "prove" or at least show the probabilities for various things. when i was a teacher i liked that i was influencing many people every semester and i imagined life on a more global scale and how i could influence groups of people. now that i am a stay-at-home mom, my life is much simpler and my world is much smaller. but this is a good thing. i am more concerned with how i influence my children and the impact on the individual (myself and my family) versus groups.

in a different time and place my focus may be elsewhere (though i doubt i will ever give up the importance of my influence on my children...and their influence on me)...but for now i am happy where i am, doing what i am on this mommy journey...


  1. Jennifer HennebergJuly 22, 2012 at 8:48 AM

    You're an amazing writer Denise. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks jen! I figure you meant for me to post only one of your comments (you probably didn't realize I had to approve them) but they were both so nice I couldn't choose :) I so looked up to you in high school so I feel like this post kind of came full circle to get recognition and support when among other things I was grappling with the idea of no longer seeking that :) let us know when you are back in San Diego and let's get together!

  2. Jennifer HennebergJuly 22, 2012 at 8:50 AM

    You have a serious gift for writing! Thanks for sharing :)

    1. Do you have a blog? If not it means even more you jumped through the hoops to write two comments! You made my day!


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