My parents split up when I was 12. I could insert my child of divorced parent sob story here but I won’t. Because my parents are both really nice, smart, and awesome people who just went in different directions. The thing is, as they both got older they realized how much being creative meant to them. My mom is now writing a novel and finishing a master’s in creative writing. My Dad spends two weeks every summer carving stone at Marble Marble. They try to be super supportive and want us to be happy above all else, they emphasize relationships and love over material stuff. I think they both came to terms with this after they raised us in a super competitive, affluent neighborhood.
As a kid, I remember making things all the time. We had boxes of junk; fabric, paper, tubes, whatever to make sculptures. My parents would take us to the art museum in Chicago. The miniature rooms there were an obsession of mine. I remember seeing paintings like the Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, by Seurat and having my mind blown by all of those little dots. When I was an angst filled teen, my mom let me wear whatever I wanted, dye my hair stupid colors, wear roller-skates to school, and paint all of my furniture over and over again while listening to Digable Planets, Blondie, and Faith No More really loud. They let my brother take pictures with their camera and he was always taking something apart and now he’s a super talented photographer and designer. Mom would always have art supplies out, I took sewing lessons, and for a huge chunk of my childhood my poor brother lugged my harp to and from lessons and recitals (thanks big Bro!). My dad still has manila folders filled with art we made as kids. He always tells me that he loves me and that he’s proud of me…tear. Thanks Dad.
My mom always has a craft du-jour; sewing, hat making, beading, knitting, crocheting, watercolors, glass painting, leather cuff making, you name it. She always included me and let me help or make my own, even if I would make it take longer or there was a chance I might mess it up.
Her house is wall to wall with art my brother and I have made, mostly as adults but she still has this hitch-hiking hand sculpture I made in the 8th grade displayed in her kitchen. She says she just still really likes it. My mom was and still is really good at encouraging us to do what we love…more tears. Thanks Mom.
And now that I’m a parent I think about all of those little things that happen when you’re a kid that make you who you are as an adult. Milo started preschool yesterday. When we were hanging around in the morning all excited and nervous and trying to figure what he should wear, Jon came back from walking the dog with this dead monarch butterfly. It was beautiful. Milo knew it was dead but thought we should still be quiet around the butterfly. He put it in an envelope and took it in his backpack to school, “for good luck, mom.” My little caterpillar….
After school last night he was in the studio, very quiet…too quiet. When I saw his arms, I thought to myself, “maybe we hang out with too many tattoo folks.” I asked his why he drew all over his arms. He said, “I just wanted to make beautiful pictures on myself.” So what’s the harm in letting him draw all over his arms? Just hopefully not with a sharpie. He learns that it sucks to try and wash it off and maybe he won’t do it again, at least for a couple of days.
Today when I asked Milo what he thought of my painting he said that it looked different and that I should think about adding more stuff, “you know, for fun, mom.” He was right, it didn’t look finished. I added a little more, just for fun, and it worked. I think my folks wanted us to know that it’s ok to try and to make mistakes and in order to learn and grow, life needs to get a bit messy sometimes.