“Gold Stars” ~Lara Blair
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In the interest of exposing our lies here on our little ignited planet, I’ve been doing some thinking about my own whopper.
I am a creative creature from the top of my head to the tips of my paint spattered toes.
Sometimes it is such a fantastically colorful place to live, and then there are days that I wish I could shut it all off and be 100% present with my family. Put down the journal..switch off the laptop…lock the camera in the utility closet. There is so much brain (and attention) space consumed by these past times, that I feel I’m cheating my loved ones on many occasions, yet I’m unclear on the best way to separate these two worlds.
I also have emotional baggage about growing up in a household where creative careers and past times seemed to trump my every day, seemingly mundane kid needs. Couple that with my parents’ divorce in my preteen years and you’ve got a recipe for the makings of some serious Guilt Cake projected into my own parenting. It is true as parents we all do the best with what we’ve been given…I don’t hold grudges or have ridiculous amounts of resentment, but I do worry about how it’s shaped my own ability to be who I need to be for my girls.
Sadly, I’m never going to be the mom who brings homemade cupcakes to school, or the woman who tends a beautiful garden and sews her own aprons. I’ve tried so many times to go down these roads and they felt unfamiliar and even pushed at times. I was not made to cook gourmet meals or volunteer for the PTA. I’ve had plenty of years of beating myself up about what I saw as domestic shortcomings, but I have finally resigned myself to the fact that God created me for other things (on purpose). I will document my children’s lives with the best creative portraits I can muster and set up an art project on the kitchen island like nobody’s business. I will also drive my little athletes for what seems like a thousand miles to support their conquests to let them know that I believe in their talents. These will have to do. The cookie jar will be void of organic homemade sweet treats—I’m sure at some point I won’t feel that icky feeling in my gut when I’m putting Oreos in the cart.
We all love our gold stars. Gretchen Rubin talks about them in her book “The Happiness Project”: “ Oh, I’m a gold star junkie. I always want to see those gold stars stuck to the top of my homework. I crave praise, appreciation, recognition.” Being a “Words of affirmation” (my love language) person, pats on the back regarding areas of insecurity are extremely important. My own doubts need to be toppled by a loved one’s positive nod for a job well done.
It seems silly that after all these years I would need this kind of encouragement, but I do and it is a source of angst when I’m feeling unsure. How can a woman be so confident in some areas (meeting new people, teaching, creating, etc) and yet so unsure in matters right in the heart of my home? There are days I gasp under the weight of the “day late, dollar short” boulder sitting on my chest. That look I get from my 10-year-old that says, “Too bad you’re not like the other moms…on time to practice, extra water bottles in the car, no complaints of standing out in the rain for hours” is enough to wreck me. In fact it has on many occasions, but I always manage to get back in the saddle and show up again, however inadequate I feel.
I know that it’s possible to have well adjusted kids who adore you, even when you have interests of your own. Interests that take me physically away (retreats to Italy and Texas) or mentally away (household hideouts to finish that one piece for a show). But I don’t know what this adoration looks like and I’m not sure I would recognize it if I saw it.
This scares me.
I want so much for my girls to look back on all of this with the thought that they had an artistic, sometimes zany mom who loved them with wild abandon and tried her best to operate between both worlds…a world of art, music, travel and adventure..the other filled with family dinners, sporting events, sleepovers and homework sessions. I wouldn’t be the first person to try to meld these two planets together—the deepest hope being that confident, well-adjusted, happy girls go out in to the world after leaving this Blair family compound.
For now I will do my best, pray for strength to banish the “mean girls” from the back of my subconscious , and keep moving forward in all matters of motherhood and art.
It’s all I know how to do.