20 May 2010
I have a question. Is it narcissistic to want to replicate my own childhood for my child? You know, create for him that certain crunchy, crafty, messy, sunny thing known as The 1970s Childhood?
Those of us who fondly remember our youth probably all say, I just want my child to grow up "how I did." Simple, with the pure, good stuff. Jacky is not yet 18 months old and I've already said and thought this so, so many times. Is it a constant that every generation wants to re-create their childhood for their kids?
My childhood was crafting, and I have this terribly deep urge to get elbow-deep in some felt and clay. For the adult crowd, I want to make modern quilts, embroider beautiful linens... but I readily admit that, for the toddling set, I want to crank out some tissue-paper mobiles, homemade glue and play-doh, all kinds of papier-maché objects -- to make my son some clothing and a wind wand, for goodness sake. (Because you know that the 70s was all about shirtless, corduroyed children running with ribbons trailing majestically behind them. Or maybe that was just me. Wheeee.)
Yes, I was brought up in a crafting home. My mom was that mom: she made my clothes and urged us to fill up rainy days by making hand-drawn flip books (I still love those). She was one of my troop's Brownie leaders, coordinating origami sessions and exhibiting acres of patience.
There's, of course, a psychological thing going on here. Each step that I take into motherhood, I miss my mom more and more*. Yeah, that sounds pretty sad, but man, I have questions. It's an intense longing and vacancy. It's not practical questions that I can ask my girlfriends/fellow moms. It's really granular, moment-to-moment stuff about her experience doing This Job. Stuff like, what did you think on Day 1, Day 10, Day 100? What was the hardest part? Did you worry about me? How long did you breast feed me? Was there sleep training? What did you think when *this* happened? What did I say first? What was I like as a toddler? What made you laugh... cry? How was it different in 1973? Was this crafty childhood just your nature as a parent, was it a trend, or were you reading the same type of crafting books I'm reading now? These are all questions that, like learning to sew from my mom, I just never got around to before she was gone. Regrets... but then again, not exactly the preoccupations of a 22-year-old art major. I had no idea.
Lately, I've been buying and reading all kinds of crafting books: from Waldorf-type kid craft-philosophy books, to monolithic Martha Stewart crafting encyclopedias. I've got the bug bad and am itching to get crafting, period... but especially with this kid. When it's the right time. To me, it's what you do if you're a mom. Jacky is on the right path with gardening: he begs to be brought down to that gloriously messy zone, full of rocks and tickle-y plants that mysteriously make their way into his food (plants, not rocks). But, I sincerely hope he'll indulge me with some mommy-son crafting action someday. I have this need to re-create some scenes: to dip our fingers in papier-maché goop, to press some flowers, make sock puppets, tie-dye our underwear. Yeah, been there, done all that with my mama.
Is it too much to ask that we do a little re-enacting? It would make my life.
*My beautiful, generous mom was taken from us by cancer when I was in my last year of college. She was 50.