From Rebel Without A Cause to Crafty Mama

img_1045It happens at least once a day. I’m living my life, minding my own business and going about the day to day of toddler mom life and I stop in my tracks and marvel at my life. So much of what’s become the new normal for me was literally beyond my wildest dreams five years ago.

Let’s start with the obvious, shall we?

I am the proud mama of a wild, strong willed toddler boy. That, in and of itself, is baffling to me – in the most wonderful way possible of course. But, moving beyond that, I’m a stay at home mom by choice…. and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Never in a million years did I picture myself embracing a life of days spent navigating meltdowns, driving Thomas the Tank Engine back and forth across my floor two hundred times a day and devising new and exciting ways to compel my picky eater to consume food on a regular basis. No judgement on you if that’s your jam but it’s just not for me. Until I found myself unable to continue to leave my son and go to work anymore. One day it became clear that I belonged at home. My days were meant to be spent desperately trying to get my son to acknowledge the existence of the number four (no luck so far… It’s still 1,2,3,5,6). I quit and haven’t looked back since.

Sure, the days are long and the hours are even longer but the years are so so short and I get to spend every minute of every day with my kid. I get to watch him figure out how to do the puzzle that baffled him yesterday. I get to watch him lose his mind over not being able to have two million goldfish before realizing that perhaps life will go on even without the fish. I get the hugs and I kiss the boo boos. We laugh. We cry. It’s basically a Hallmark movie over here…. Depending on which Hallmark movie you happen to be watching. Is it easy? Nope. Sure isn’t. Is it worth it? Absolutely!

Motherhood changes you. It’s a cliché as old as time. For this mama, truer words could not have been spoken.

My own mother deserves a medal of valor for getting this wayward teen through to adulthood alive. My teen years were spent running amok emotionally, visiting the insides of a variety of psychiatric facilities and desperately trying everything in my power to ensure I didn’t live to see my 21st birthday. Well, thanks in large part to a ferocious amount of love and intervention from my mom, I celebrated my 21st birthday in typical fashion. However, rather than toasting to my adult self and growing up, I spent another 10 years squandering chances and alienating friends and family. Finally, I got sick and tired of living in crisis and accepted housing in a transitional facility while I began to embrace normalcy and adulthood. One by one I started checking off the boxes of adulthood. By the time I found out I was with child I was well on the way to becoming the woman I had always wanted to be. That said, I was not someone folks would look at and declare motherhood material. In fact, the most common reaction to learning I was pregnant was hesitant optimism and bemusement. My own mother so eloquently stated that “I guess now is as good a time as any. You’re not getting any younger.” Everyone, myself included, was simply crossing their fingers and hoping for the best.  Much to the surprise of many, motherhood and I have taken to each other quite nicely. After a rough start, I’ve found my purpose and am standing tall on stable mom legs. I wouldn’t trade this life for anything and I never would have imagined this is who I would become.

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Which brings us to crafting. I am not a crafter. I do not knit. I do not make holiday cards. I think I’ve sewn one skirt in my life and it was a horrifying experience for all parties involved. No one, literally no one, would describe me as particularly crafty. In fact, I looked at those crafty folks with a bemused “aren’t you cute…” expression prior to a year ago. Yet, here I am. Scouring Michael’s for new materials, spending my late nights and early mornings stalking Pinterest and sitting down weekly for craft time with my kid. And I LOVE it. Why? Because he loves it and it keeps him centered and calm. It keeps him focused and allows him to explore new activities. It gives us a chance to work on numbers and letters and talk about gratitude and Santa while enjoying each other’s company (most of the time). It’s inexpensive and portable. We can do it rain or shine. In our pajamas or dressed and ready for the day. But, what I think I love most about our crafting is getting to see how his little brain works. Watching him make the connections, listening to the stories he comes up with while gluing or painting and fielding the questions he asks while creating something give me a window into his mind. It allows me to watch him connect the dots, use his imagination and grow emotionally and cognitively.

Why blog? Well, I write. They say write what you know. Therefore logic kicked in and a crafting blog seemed par for the course. But, my hope is for this to be more than a blog about how to make snowmen with your little tyke. I’m hoping this can function as an exploration of parenting in general. Obviously the majority of this blog will focus on crafts. But, don’t be surprised if other aspects of parenthood work their way into a post or two or five. It’s impossible to separate one from the other and I’m not even going to try. I’m also hoping this can serve as a window into my personal journey from wayward teen to unexpectedly competent mother. I’ve surpassed my own expectations, put the naysayers to shame and am thoroughly entrenched in a life many thought was simply not in the cards for me. I couldn’t be more grateful and am proud of who I am as a mama. And, I invite you to come along on this journey with me. There will be paint, glue, paper and the occasional nostril that’s been glued shut unintentionally (because, that’s what crafting with a toddler like mine sometimes looks like). Most of all, there will be fun!