Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Swim Lessons: Adventures in Art and Motherhood

As promised yesterday, here is the first in a series of reruns of some of my adventures as a single mom. Consider them "Swim Lessons".

Swim Lessons are lessons I've learned from being a single mom that are encouragement to other single parents, and as it turns out, married parents too! The biggest lesson is, as Dory from Finding Nemo says, "Just keep swimming!" The rest are nuggets of truth I've learned along the way that made the difference between drowning and survival.

Adventures in Art and Motherhood
First posted 1.18.10

I started becoming a better mom when I stopped trying to be one and decided to be myself. The thought occurred to me that I didn't have to miss out on exciting things I wanted to do, I just needed to have the guts to bring my kids along with me. This began an incredible adventure of self discovery and inspiration. It has been so exciting to see what has rubbed off on my boys, and how they in turn have inspired me in new ways. Most of the time, I endure what I like to call controlled chaos, although I'm not sure if it's even all that controlled. I never really expect anything to go smoothly. C'mon, I'm a single mom with two children under the age of four! I set my expectations at nightmare; that way, when things are a little crazy with a couple of cool things mixed in, it feels like a huge success!

Several months ago, a friend tuned me in to Philbrook's 2nd Saturday. Each month, a local museum hosts a family day, complete with free admission and tours, and several crafts and activities for the children. You can even join My Museum, where you get your own art box with art store quality supplies that are added to each month. Each time you come to a 2nd Saturday, you're given one new art supply and a card with a piece of art on it, detailing specifics and history, as well as activities you can do related to the piece of artwork. Cool, right? Sounds like it's all for the kids huh? Think again!
I consider myself a creative person. Not quite the level of an actual artist, but I like to think of myself as artistic. I've done a bit of painting here and there, I enjoy sewing, writing, gardening, singing, dancing, etc. All of which are difficult things to fit in when you have small children and a full time job to tend to. I really just wanted a chance to be in a beautiful place, surrounded by art, walk the gorgeously landscaped gardens. The fact that they had activities for the kids was just a plus. I got to go to the museum for FREE! Granted our first trip truly was a circus, but we had so much fun! Between the three of us we've experienced the following:

•we've been covered in paint and ingested a great deal of it
•made self portraits and wearable cars
•constructed miniature trees
•endured about 12.5 meltdowns and temper tantrums
•nearly lost a child on...more than one occasion
•gotten in trouble for touching paintings and climbing on sculptures
•enjoyed the echo sound in the parking garage at excruciating decibels
•gotten a work out hauling a child on each hip along with all art projects all the way out to the car...while they're screaming
•ran, jumped, rolled, walked, tip-toed and sniffed through the gardens
•enjoyed several picnics in the sunshine (complete with pbj in the grass casualties)
•learned about patterns and made our own
•and so, so much more...

I always walk away inspired and exhilarated. Even though I don't get to leisurely stroll through the museum and admire the artwork, or sit in the cafe eating delicacies and sipping cappuccino, I'm convinced I'm doing something better for myself and my children than I would be at the disease filled Play Place at the mall (which we also visit on a semi-regular basis). I can feel the culture and history seeping into my bones. And when I see my children engrossed in choosing the colors they paint with and experimenting with brush strokes and finger strokes, I'm filled with such an overwhelming joy.

In all our family trips to Philbrook, I've never created one piece of artwork myself, but I've created priceless memories and taken part in instilling a love for learning and creativity in my children. My babies, my sweet little evolving pieces of living, breathing art.

Here are a few pics from our excursions:

Aidan was so into painting his car, I could barely get him to flash me a smile for a picture!

Alec preferred the roller to the brush.

So much so, he had to taste it. Poor kid.

We made it out alive, though covered in paint. (Notice, Aidan still won't look at the camera because he's so focused on his artwork!)

On another trip, we took the kid-friendly tour of the museum with Pierre the Puppet. We learned about patterns and searched for them in paintings.

Aidan was inspired to make a few patterns of his own. Right in the middle of the tour!

Aaaahhhhhhh. Passed out after lunch on the way home. Nothing says, "me time" like napping children!

Who wants to join us next month?!


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