Have you ever been standing in the hallway, trying to dress a screaming child as he yells at the top of his lungs (right by your ear) “Want a BISCUIT!!!!” over and over again and you are yelling back “You can’t have a BISCUIT!!!! We have to feed the chickens!!!!!” and then you realise that this marks the official moment your holiday is over. With a capital OH.
I always knew it would be rubbish when Stephen went back to work but I had expected a slightly more delayed reaction rather than a prompt 9am YOU SUCK wake up call. Outside time didn’t diminish the screaming but it wasn’t right by my ear and the work of sorting out chickens and collecting sleds of wood helped me to feel better at least. But really, I mean couldn’t I just be a bit calmer? A bit nicer? A bit less hysterical? Sigh. If only I had that zen gene that so many people seem to possess, or even the blessed ignorance to not know when I have degenerated into being Rubbish Mum of the Year 2012.
But as the day draws to a close, as we settle into a better rhythm, as the morning that grated became the afternoon that flowed, I begin to wonder. What is all this telling me? As I am wont to do I spent my lunchtime (which is also the boy’s quiet time) cruising blogs and reading up on things that interest my butterfly brain. Today I followed links from Soulemama to the SQUAM blog and new website. I’m only vaguely aware of the organisation, being as it is in the US and filed under ‘things I can’t do because they are far away’ but felt drawn to their blog and the sheer joy of their ideas.
A comment I left led to Elizabeth sending me a lovely email, that got me to thinking. What does it mean to be an artist? It seems such a grand title, a thing that I could never apply to myself. Apart from the fact that I only got a C at A level Art I don’t necessarily see myself as a creative person. I make things but I’m not creative. I can follow along with the creativity of another, a recipe, a pattern; I can point my camera at the world and catch some of what I see, but artist? To me an artist is someone with vision, an original, a fresh view of the world.
The only thing that I’ve ever been able to use creatively is words, I’ve always written stories or poems, tried to put my thoughts into words in some way. It’s why I write here, the thoughts that build up in my brain have to go somewhere! But to me an artist is someone who takes time, dedicates themselves to their art. Do my snatches at the kitchen counter while the kids are having quiet time or watching tv count? Can that be art? Do artists really take breaks at significant moments in their creative process for potty emergencies? I don’t have an answer but I’d love to know what others think.
As I’ve drifted through blog posts and my own thoughts today, a consistent message keeps coming to the fore. Enjoy life, it’s short. Take pleasure in what you can. Life is what you believe it to be. I read a post here by Elizabeth and another here by Jen, that triggered my thoughts on this subject. I am way too prone to bouts of severe puritanism and I often feel that if something isn’t hard and a bit miserable it just isn’t worth anything. I mean if we are having fun how can it be work? I preach the reading-on-the-couch theory, but that niggle in my tummy says that unless he’s slaving over a worksheet or bored senseless he just isn’t learning.
But I can’t ignore the messages, the words that keep drifting through my consciousness. Enjoy. Live for now. Look for the good. So I did. I noticed that on this day where I lost my temper (twice), I also did a pile of ironing, sorted laundry ready for putting in drawers, did a couple of small art projects with the boys, tidied the school room up a bit after reorganising it yesterday, cooked, collected wood, looked after chickens, read a pile of books under a blanket by the fire to both boys at the same time, celebrated Neirin doing a poo in the toilet for the second day running (that’s a big deal around here), cooked a chilli, gave the boys something reasonably nutritious to eat for dinner and got them in the shower ready for story time with Daddy. It is small, it is perhaps unexciting but it all took effort, and work. It all took the energy of swallowing my hormonal madness (you know, those days when you fantasise about the supermarket being held up at gun point just so you have an excuse to beat the crap our of someone with a large and heavy jar of pureed tomato) and saying in a level way “Yes that is what you are having for dinner”.
In a quiet moment this afternoon, while I was assimilating all this, while Neirin was taking a break from wailing ‘But whhhhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyy’, I looked out of the window and looked at the snow coming down. I watch it get a little fatter, a little more insistent. It lay across the ice, answering my prayers for a more stable walking surface, it embodies silence and calm. I wonder to myself, can I really be grumpy in the face of this?
Of course I can.
I have all terrain grumpiness that can take down even the most cheerful of scenarios. But I choose not to. I choose to revel in the moment, the quiet of it all. I choose to look forward to bedtime snuggles and giggles. I choose to enjoy the smell of freshly showered children and clean pj’s, the sight of tidy bedrooms and warm sidelights. I choose to think about what it would mean to call myself an artist, to see myself that way. I choose my choice. I choose what I chose.
I also choose chilli and chocolate almonds. See, that’s what I call a bright side.