When my little ladybird told me she fell down at school today and hurt her knee, I told her we’d go home and put ice-rice on it. To my great alarm and surprise, I realized that we didn’t actually have any ice-rice in our freezer (just frozen peas). Ice-rice is the normal stuff of preschool: cold rice in a little ziploc baggie used to soothe booboos. It does wonders for owies of all sorts.
How did she get to be two and a half years old without any ice-rice? So I asked her to design her own. She said she wanted a blue bear which turned into a cat. She picked her fabrics and I drew a cat. She picked button eyes. We filled it with rice and sewed it shut. Voila!
When the big boy came home from school he wanted to design his own ice-rice so he chose to make a LEGO head. Easy peasey. He helped me trace it on freezer paper and then he burned himself on the iron. Then he tripped over the iron cord and almost got really hurt. It is good thing we had so many ice-rice packs around with all the studio-sustained injuries!
I can’t say that today was a fun sewing day, what with my baby girl spilling all the buttons, falling off the chair, and saying no a lot. Sometimes, crafting with my kids calls on every ounce of my patience and even then I am still too reactive and frustrated. Today was one of those days and I don’t fancy days like that—days when I have too many expectations about the finished product. Those expectations only make for creative limitation and perfectionism, which in turn stifles the joy of creating stuff and makes for an unhappy mama. I end up shooing the kiddos out of the studio instead of just enjoying them. Our creative bliss generally hinges on spur of the moment craft-drawer constructions or kitchen table creations with no function or purpose other than pleasure, fun, being together, and making a beautiful mess. Many days are spent like that around here, that is why I hate to ruin it all with one bad day. The awesome buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron, speaks to that in one of her amazing books (several of which I have listened to in the car. You didn’t think I actually had time to read, did you?) She says that you can use your best behavior and kindness for months or years on end, yet if you have one bad day and say the unkind or angry word, you can undo all of your good efforts—erase them in a second. It sucks but it’s true (even she had a hard time assimilating this particular teaching from Shantideva from the the 8th century). It sounds rather black or white, but really the point is that kindness is cumulative and never-ending—there is never a moment where we can take our foot off the pedal and stop being kind. And the harsh word is always the one we remember, isn’t it? Even if a thousand kind words were spoken in between.
Luckily my husband reminded me that I am a good mom as I was spiraling down and he happened to be reading uber-wise Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, so he handed it to me to help me out. Perhaps I should read it?
Don’t listen to Pema! Undo years of kindness by having one bad moment? No way, sister. It’s called being human! Just dust off the crankies and keep moving forward with lots of love, after an unkind word is said. You’re great!
Oh, Elaina! How I love thee. I know…it is a bit harsh. But I do get her point. And yours! That is my usual tactic but sometimes I sink into the mud. Thank you for your comment. xo.