Monday, November 10, 2008

Collaborating with my Girls

In honor of the fact that my retirement fund, the one consisting of money I've been working to earn since I was sixteen years old, performing jobs ranging from menial to demeaning, the one I'd planned to borrow from to provide my girls with secondary education, the one that's my cushion to enable me to be a mostly stay-at-home mom, the one that's made up entirely of stocks and bonds and mutual funds and other imaginary creatures, is down $12,000 for the year (freakin' economy), I've been working on updating my etsy shop for the holidays. It had taken a backseat to my teaching and writing for a while, but now that the entire family is steadier within the flow of the school year, I've had more time to devote to crafting with my girls.

Yep, with my girls. I consider all my work collaborative with my two children, sometimes very directly, sometimes very indirectly. For instance, the girls helped at every step in creating our melted and recycled crayon hearts and autumn leaves and their color choices could be quite beautiful, but for the personalized buntings, they rather inspired the idea, chose the colors for their own buntings, and kept me company by playing on the floor at my feet while I sewed: Sometimes my work is guided by a child's passion, such as when I made up a bunch of dinosaur postage stamp soldered glass pendants, and stuffed dinosaurs from new materials or felted wool, and dinosaur doll blankets
all because Willow is obsessed with dinosaurs. She chose the fabric or pattern or stamp for each, and both the girls are dedicated pin-holders when I layer materials. They also like to race around the perimeter of a quilt that I am pinning on the floor, leaving barely enough room to move around it on either side--it's a game to race around and around and around, because they know that whoever ends up falling on the quilt first gets grumped at by Momma, as if I didn't know what was going to happen all along.

Some things are collaborations in honor of my girls. The cross-stitch panels on this little quilt are duplicates from a cross-stitch book that my mother hand-stitched for Willow:And some things are made just because we're big dorks, like this Christmas ornament. We met Darth Maul, y'all, and he is SO NICE!
Some things I make directly for the girls, such as dressesor dolls then make a few extras to sell or give away, and some things I make in honor of my relationship with my girls, such as items to honor or encourage breastfeeding.
It's because I'm a mostly stay-at-home mom (unless my stocks keep tanking)--together all day, the girls do work and I do work, and their work and my work always reflect, even when we do it alone, our togetherness. Momma is always there to hand a girl a marker, to reach under the couch for the last elusive matchbox car, to read a couple of books, to make a couple of snacks, to wash four hands. In return, the girls are always there for me--goofing around in the cart while I shop for supplies, cutting collages while I cut patterns, sitting on my lap while I try to work the sewing machine around them, playing in the park a few feet behind me while I take pictures of what I made. I collaborate with them simply because they're an inherent part of everything I do.
Just try getting some privacy in the bathroom.


Abby said...

what about those pins? can you sell them at our shop too?? or does your heart only belong to BABS?

Abby said...

also. i want to buy the cinderella bowl! can i? could you bring it to the shop on saturday? i want to buy it for my brother for xmas.

julie said...

You gotta love BABS, of course, but I can totally bring you some buttons and your record bowl on Saturday. I am super-excited about learning how to make soap!

I've got all these other weird natural baby projects in my head, too, that I need to sit down and figure out--I want to make some patchwork baby quilts out of old blue jeans, or maybe freezer paper stencil the international breastfeeding logo onto a denim bunting...a good mom friend is expecting, so I've been really inspired lately, because her baby? I'm gonna pretend like it's mine.

cake said...

that is a beautiful post. i really love the fact that you collaborate, and work along side you girls. it takes a lot of patience to do that. it is something i would like to do, more consciously that i do now. i always think i have to have a block of time, all to myself, to get things done. you've reminded me that's not true.

cosmo has helped a few times with building projects, and is great at putting screws in holes for me, so they are all ready for the drill to screw them in.

julie said...

It took me a long time to find meaning in my work as a mother, I'll tell you. I grew up wanting something very different with my life, and I tried a lot of things that worked, but didn't work for me. And once I really dedicated myself to being the mother of my first child, I still wasn't satisfied, you know? Like I still didn't have anything, really, to DO? It didn't start getting better for me until I bought myself a real, professional digital camera. And then everywhere I went with my babies, I took a lot of pictures. A LOT of pictures. It was a creative outlet that satisfied me and gave me something to do while being with my girls, and still let me have some intellectual time and some time alone to work on my photos, too. And then my mother-in-law gave me her old sewing machine, and making stuff for my baby was something else to do. And then I started doing other crafty little things as something to do. And then I started finding this meaning in it, of doing work that I can share with my girls, of doing things that let me be with them and interact with them but aren't the regular kinds of kid-things that had me feeling like I was going crazy. Play groups? Oh, man.