the mothering arts

Everything, and the kitchen sink.

Elizabeth wrote such a powerful post yesterday. Here’s a snippet:

[The kitchen sink] was the final thing. But I’m not upset about it any more and I’m not railing against the kitchen demons who conspire to rob me of time to do more important things. I’m grateful. The drain won’t make me nuts if I recognize that my mission today is to deal with drains. The drain isn’t distracting me from my “real work;” it is my real work. I am able to click this laptop closed and give my full attention to the dishes in the laundry sink, the mess in the basement, the paper Christian needs me to edit, the boy who wants to go to morning Mass, the little girl who was up sick last night, the late night soccer practice…

the list goes on and on.

It’s my mission statement.
It’s real. It’s here. It’s now. And it’s all I’ve got.
Elizabeth Foss, “I’m Going to Try” November 5, 2012

It’s everything. I’ve thought about this more than a few times in the last few weeks. I knew I needed to read Mission of Motherhood again. Elizabeth was chatting about it; I knew I could benefit from the discussion. And suddenly, we were both smack dab in the middle of change and family matters that we weren’t quite expecting. The seed was planted. I thought about what Sally has to say as I scrubbed dishes; as I walked with children around the park; while I painted; while the knitting needle slipped in and out.

I’ve really struggled with the balance between dreams. Unlike Elizabeth, I never thought I’d be a mother, let alone mother to six. I was very lost in my first few years. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted as a mama, let alone as a woman. I had no idea how to do this mothering thing; I didn’t really know what I wanted to teach my children. Aside from the physical skills of changing diapers and the like (which I had learned babysitting), I had no real understanding of how to emotionally connect with my children, how to tie their heartstrings to mine. At the same time, I was finishing up my degree at University, and I at least understood then that the creative drive and pursuit of art would drive me throughout adulthood. I couldn’t make the two match up; I couldn’t even fathom one with the other.

So what did I do? Let’s talk about irony. I’ve been writing a blog for six years named none other than memoria arts. In the sum of seven hundred some posts, I’ve written less than fifty posts actually related to artistic pursuits. I shut it off. I shut off the thruming heart-cord that centers and sustains me because I foolishly believed the two could not inform each other. I couldn’t not be a mother, so baby with the bathwater art was flung out the door. I shut door after door in my heart for no other reason than I thought I could not be both. An artistic mother.

I’ve spent the last eight months realizing that the two aren’t mutually exclusive. And that grace and mercy are always available for the receiving, if only I open my hands.

This is the thing though…I cannot- I will not- complain about the journey that brought me to this day. Without the journey I have walked, I would not have learned all that I have to become the mother I am today. Growing into that skin of an artistic mother, who brings those artistic skills into my mothering, and vice versa. So maybe I haven’t written a lot about art here- but I have written a lot about my journey into the mothering arts. I’ve learned a lot from mothers like Elizabeth and Sally; I’ve learned to tie those heart-strings; I’ve learned how to dwell here. Right now.

Mr. Mike Foss nailed it on the head (wise man)- “It doesn’t matter if you have fifteen years or fifty years, if you don’t offer her everything now, you won’t have this chance again.”

If you don’t offer everything now. That is what has become so crystal clear to me these last few weeks, walking with the children ’round the park, correcting the math, listening patiently to the sounded out word- I only have right now. I can bring everything I am and everything I dream into this present moment of loving and caring for my children, home, and husband. I don’t have to wear a thousand different hats (mama, chef, artist, lover) to show up for this job. I just have to show up in this moment, fully alive, fully me, and trusting God to the increase.

I am delighted that my dear friend Elizabeth is joining the Nester for her annual ’31 days…’ blogging challenge– speaking about something that is very near to my heart- Sally Clarkson’s The Mission of Motherhood. This book changed my whole paradigm a few years ago, and I find that I already need a refresher course. I will be joining Elizabeth this month as she chats and journals through what the mission of motherhood means to her.

 31 days Misson

One Comment

  • Sandi

    Tears, my friend. i read her post yesterday and wrote the same quote into my journal. Right now! This moment! It’s the only way to wear all the hats….not to try and cram them all on at one time but wear each one fully and well when it’s on. It’s freeing isn’t it. Now, to stop the habit of trying to wear 10 hats all at one time and missing what is right in front of me.

    Love to you

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