As a visual creature, I like my house to be ordered and stylish.
As a Mom, I want my kids to live creative beautiful lives.
Sometimes these two desires butt heads.
Like today. Every Thursday my husband runs a reading/discussion group called ‘Great Books’. Tonight it was our turn to host. That means I wanted my house in order for my guests. Not perfect, just orderly: chairs pushed into a clean dining table, cushions lined up on as I like them on the sofa, vacuumed floor rug that follows the lines of the tile floor, DVD’s & toys put away, clean towels in the bathrooms, toilets flushed (really! with 4 little kids that has to make it on the list). After a full day of school that seems like a whole bunch of work.
Today I was feeling a little tired, too many late nights, pregnant, working on book marketing ideas, Artist On Call work write ups, episodes of Dexter on Netflix Instant Play (! *guilty smile*).
After morning school I told the girls it was a media free day (no lunchtime educational video), just play instead. Sounds nice and quiet – but for my girls that means serious creative mess time. I should have seen it coming. Within an hour they had completely dismantled the living room and created a ‘camp ground’, with chairs and blankets and pillows and bedspreads. And filled their tents with bears and dolls.
As I was following my initial urge to crash into their playtime and remind them they have to put all that stuff back, my husband came in from a meeting. Without his saying a word I could hear his measured voice in my mind – 'don’t worry, they are having creative fun, who cares about the mess?' He’s right I know, he values creative play way more than a tidy house, and he always loves to see evidence of happy homeschooling lifestyle. His very presence reminded me of that.
So I swallowed my clean freak nature at least for a few hours and embraced their play, we even did afternoon school in their camp on pretend mud.
Eventually the room was cleaned up and reassembled (minus the coffee table that has permanently lost it's place so Matthew has a place to juggle); Lily at 7 has become such a good little helper so I didn’t have to do it all alone. But it really did take mental discipline to decide to be the artistic mother for those few hours and not just the artistic person with a nice house!