Posts tagged ‘being yourself’

August 27, 2015

Arden’s Mom

Owl bag puppet copyYesterday began the 1st day of the new school year.

I was nervous.

And excited.

And it wasn’t even me starting school.

Last year, shortly after Arden started first grade. Picking her up after school one day, she told me that her Art teacher was going to a different school and that she was sad. Upon clarification from her teacher, the students weren’t required to have art all the semesters. The Art teacher would be back at their school mid-January. So in the meantime, the kids would have nothing. Arden looked at me so sad.  Honestly, the thought of school without it devastated me. I realize that sounds dramatic, but as a kid, that was my life. I LIVED for Art class. Each of my teachers were amazing and I loved them. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without their guidance and encouragement. At that moment, I knew I was going to have to do something.

I approached Arden’s teacher with the idea, which she was all for. Lo and behold, I would also be able to bring Cam. I’d like to mention that her teacher had the patience of a saint. With 3 kids of her own and being in her thirteenth year of teaching, she was so laidback, but firm, we couldn’t have gotten any luckier. I walked into the classroom the first day and Arden’s eyes just shown. She could barely contain her excitement. I, on the other hand, was hugely apprehensive. I’m used to just making things with one kid, not 20. I nervously waited for the students to finish their assignment before I launched into what we were going to do. The room was just buzzing!  So many wound up little people, wondering what was happening next. At some point, introductions were made, but the kids paid no mind and simply referred to me as “Arden’s Mom.” A title I’d never thought I’d be so proud of, but has come to completely thrill me to the being of my soul. Mama with feather art head dress copyNative american head dress with feathers and paint tree art copy art turkeys copy

And so, for the next 3 months I came in once a week to do projects with the kids in Arden’s class. I had tons of scrap cardstock that I was finally going to put to good use. Most of the other materials I had on hand and the kids already had glue, scissors and markers. While Arden was a whiz at cutting since she was 3, a lot of them still needed practice. I’d make up templates and have some things made ahead of time, while still leaving them to work on the skills they needed.

Some kids were more than happy to follow my basic instruction, but most often than not, their minds and creativity took over. Everytime, they’d swarm around me like baby ducks, asking for assistance or proudly showing off their work. One boy’s paper bag owl puppet, became a Minecraft-type owl complete with a sword for an arm. One kid, instead of making the porcupine out of toothpicks, asked to make Sonic the Hedgehog out of toothpicks. One girl, no matter what the project, always managed to turn it into something with a dragon. I wasn’t an Art teacher and we weren’t technically in Art class, so why not? We had that freedom.

Then there was Cam. In his carseat, he’d either nap or rock himself. He never cried. Maybe because, at all times, at least 1/3 of the class would be out of their seats to play with the baby. Doing silly stuff to get him to smile or try to feed him a bottle. As time went on and he grew, they delighted in seeing the new things he was able to do. The teacher would remind them to get back in their seats and finish. They would, only to be replaced by new kids eager to make the baby laugh.

My time there went swiftly. Once the actual Art teacher was back, I cried. When I would drop off Arden to her classroom in the morning, I’d still have kids asking when I would be back to teach them Art. I was able to come in a few more times after that, for holiday parties or for science experiments, just so we could have an excuse to make things together and play with a baby.

I think of all this as I drop off Arden yesterday and feel a bit sad. I hope I will have some opportunity to come in and work with this new class. To get to know the kids and see some of the returning ones from last year. Just then, I see Arden’s teacher from last year and ask for a hug, which of course, makes everything better. porcupine from art class mrs uncaphers copy

May 12, 2015

~*what I know now*~

For years, Mother’s Day has always been a reminder of the one I lost. It was difficult and has always made me angry and resentful. I’d see friends photos, smiling with their mothers or hear them say about how they practically talk to their mom every other day and wonder what that was like. Intrigued, to have someone that cared to hear about my life and accomplishments. To lend a hand or give me advice. Who was totally on my side and there to guide me as I tried to figure out life and how to navigate it. Who, if I made a mistake would say it was okay and that I could just start over or try again. I don’t know what that’s like, nor will I ever. I have always felt exposed. Out on a pinnacle. Alone.

When I was in my early 20’s, I read a book titled ‘Motherless Daughters’. The only thing I can recall from that book, was that once I had my own child, my own daughter, that I would start to heal. I wanted a daughter so badly, not for that reason, because I didn’t actually believe it. Although when I see her play, at times I see myself. My little girl self. What I would be like just having fun, enjoying life and not worrying about my mom being sick and who would take care of me next, if anyone. It’s bittersweet. I am glad I can give that to my children, but deep down still crave it for myself. In my mind, there is a part of me that feels like my mom gave up. Like I wasn’t worth living for, even though my adult self rationally knows how badly ill she was and how it consumed her.

Arden feeding ducks Mothers Day 2015 copy

I can tell you, that having children has done wonders for me. It has brought me back to myself and continues to do so. It’s a daily struggle though. Part of me always thinking I would be the mom that plays and always has fun. In reality, my practical side is making sure Arden has worked on her homework, gotten in the shower readying for bed or dressed for school. It’s me telling her to stop playing with her brother and finish her dinner. I’m always hurrying, trying to be on task and it rather sucks. The other day, she was singing and my thought was “Oh my gosh! Just be quiet, life is not a flippen’ musical!” At that mere thought, my hand flew over my mouth, because I have ALWAYS been of the opinion that life should have a soundtrack, just like in movies. It genuinely disappoints me that doesn’t really happen, so I try to help it along and play music all the time instead. That thought though, left me panicked, horrified and so relieved I hadn’t said it outloud.

Cam on first swing FP mothers day 2015 copy

Yesterday, we started out having the best day. Joel has always gone out of his way to make Mother’s Day special for me. There was brunch, gifts, a nap, the park. And then we pushed it. We went out to dinner and it was a disaster. Cam sat in his car seat fervently grabbing and kicking a laminated drink menu beside Joel. He would screech if you tried to take it away or offer him a bottle. Arden, despite advisement not to, managed to eat 4 rolls, which she threw up all over herself as we were getting ready to pull out on the street heading home. As I water boarded my daughter in the parking lot in front of onlookers (because her hair was full of vomit), I couldn’t help but feel that this was not how my special day was supposed to end. Annoyed and frustrated with smelly, crying children.

Today is a new day and I tell Arden that we all start over. I try to explain that I know that 4 rolls is too many and try to prevent her from getting sick by telling her so. That moms know lots about cause and effect. She is intrigued. I hope she will listen next time, but she probably won’t. And in that moment, I realized that even if my mom had been around to give me advice, I probably wouldn’t have listened anyway.

Erin Arden Cam FP mothers day 2015 copy

October 29, 2013

Sliding Doors.

Poster GO YOU! copy

A couple weeks ago I received a message from an acquaintance. I don’t know this girl particularly well. It’s not like we have ever been close friends. We met due to mutual interests and I admire her talents. She wrote me to tell me that an article that I had posted on my dfmi designs Facebook page had spoke to her. Now, I try to find things that I think are of interest to my few followers of the page in addition to my blog posts. Sometimes crafty or decorative or how-to’s, sometimes making changes in your life to make it better. That’s the one she referenced.

I was surprised and pleased. For one, I was pretty sure no one reads my random tidbits, except Joel because he’s the only one that usually clicks the “LIKE” button. For two, I’ve read to use all sorts of social media to help boost your business. But I am the worst at just mindlessly pushing a product. Like, straight up awful. I’m a designer, not a sales person. I’m too straight forward. I like making a genuine connection with my clients. To me, I like knowing that the unicorn invite I’m making is going to a make a 4 year old very happy. That they are decorating with rainbow balloons to match. That the child was so excited to send out the invites I made, because it meant her friends were coming to her party. I love getting those emails.

So this situation is like that. But instead of a party, this girl told me the article I posted resonated with her deeply. It made her reflect on what was broken. What wasn’t working and made her want to change it. To make herself right, to take the necessary steps to make her and her family happier. To change her life. How exciting is that?!
To be honest, this is the kind of stuff I live for. To know that I played a very small part in it, makes me incredibly happy. I am so grateful for that knowledge, because on my darkest days, I can reflect on it and know I’m doing something right.

It has always been one of my goals, to make a difference in every person’s life I meet. Granted, for some people it definitely hasn’t been a good experience. For them, I hope it was because they needed to go in a different direction than the one they were headed. Hopefully, me pissing them off was the push they needed and set them on the right path. My techniques are still quite unrefined, but I do my best. 🙂

If there is something in your life that is weighing on you, I hope that you realize that you alone have the power to change it. Find the strength in yourself to let go of “What you think you SHOULD do.” OR “What others EXPECT of you.” Let go of the doubt and fear, because that nagging, sick feeling that something is wrong, won’t go away till you face it. There’s no reason to live like that. It’s no one’s life but yours. Make it the best it can possibly be.


August 27, 2013

Dude! My kid just started Kindergarten.

I should have been welcoming this, because it’s a much more effective working environment when I’m not being asked 20 million questions a day. If you know me, I do not welcome questions. I need focus and I need to make things happen. I can be amazingly patient unless I give a thoughtful explanation and then get asked the exact same question 5 minutes later. Which of course, happens all the time.

But my sidekick has gone and grown up. Relatively speaking, she’s still small. She just turned 5 last week. I didn’t feel ready to let her go. During the school’s orientation I was highly annoyed listening to the teachers discuss how well kids need to test. It’s upsetting. This is not the kindergarten I know. The world has changed dramatically since I was a kid. We didn’t learn to READ yet. You finger painted, you played, you took naps and made friends. Pre-school is the new kindergarten. There are so many more rules and I don’t know them and it’s weird.

It’s not that I don’t think my child will do well, I totally do. I just miss her saying UP!! at age 1, when she wanted on my lap. Her robotic voice at 2 ½ saying “Pick-you-up?” for when SHE wanted to be picked up. Then there was “I-help-you, Ma-ma. What’s-that-making-sound? Or “NO WANT! Each year more and more personality emerged. She has always been a stinker. Now she has to be a rule follower and my heart aches for her. I don’t want the creativity squelched by memorization. I want her to learn how to grow a garden, to transform trash into something amazing, to figure out new uses for old things instead of always buying new. To learn to sew and bake. To know that being smart doesn’t come from always knowing the answer from a textbook, but instead embracing the world around you and trying to make it better.   

For now though, I will let the teachers do their job. (It’s not like any of them are wanting to rule the kids lives with an iron fist.) And I will keep on being an awesome mama and sharing everything I know.ImageImage

October 24, 2012

Welcome Home!

The things I enjoyed as a child are oddly enough the same stuff that I find that I still enjoy doing as an adult. Somewhere along the way, I stopped, because I guess I thought I was supposed to. To grow up, be an adult, be serious, make money, pay bills. I have found though, that a lot of that last sentence sucks and eventually it actually sucks the joy out of your life, if you let it. There is no point of depriving yourself of the things you love doing because it may be frowned upon. As long as you aren’t harming yourself or others, ultimately, allowing yourself to be who you are is going to make you happier to be around. It will make your partner happier and your kids and basically everyone else you come in contact with.

For years I wanted to make banners. All I could ever find at the store is gaudy, shiny-looking cut out letters or hearts, not very fitting for what I wanted to decorate a party with. But it wasn’t just that. You know the feeling of excitement that you get when you walk into a decorated room for a party? Whether it be Halloween, or a birthday, whatever. Someone made the effort to make it special and take it to a whole other level. The room is no longer a living room or a basement or a VW Hall. It’s now alive with balloons and steamers or spooky with cobwebs and hanging skeletons.

I wanted that feeling all.the.time. I wanted a banner hanging in my house year-round.
Yet I held back. What if people thought I was stupid? I’m rebellious, but this might be a bit much even for me. At the time, I didn’t even have kids. I told myself it was silly and pushed it deep down. For like 6 years I held back. Just like anything you push down deep, it resurfaces again and again until you deal with it. Damn those craft-making urges I have! For wanting to feel mini child-like wonder every time I walk around my house. I want warm and welcoming, fun and colorful. I want every person that steps through the door of my home, to feel happiness surround them.

So now, I make banners. Personalized ones with peoples names for birthdays or for anniversaries or because they got a promotion or because it’s Fall. Life is hard a lot times, but it’s all the little victories that get us through, that deserve recognition and to be celebrated! The banners sell well and they make me super happy, while making others feel special. My clients love them! And that sassy little girl inside of me says “It’s about time you started listening to me.”

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