We have a 2 year old. Similar to most at his age, he loves to watch and participate in whatever we are doing. In our side hustles, that can make it difficult to get project work completed. Think power tools and saws, dangerous chemicals and breakable items. We never want to put our kid in harms way but we also don't want to stifle his curiosity. As Mother's Day approaches I am very mindful of how my actions could affect my son as he grows and engages with me and I'm also feeling a bit reflective.
I remember when I was a kid my dad would say, "go tell your mom she wants you." It was his way to tell me to leave him be and cue my mom to step in. He would be elbow deep in grease and trying to put brakes on the car that he was desperate to get just one more year out of. Times were tight, we had one vehicle this grey and rusty clunker. My mom would pull me into the house and have me play with legos or my little brother. As a child, I was just as curious as any kid. Plus, I'm sure the younger version of myself just wanted to spend time with my dad. He was my hero, he could fix anything and was a genius with tools. His time was very limited. He had to repair the vehicles, mow the grass, move that heavy thing for mom, get enough sleep so he could work a double the next day. In his 1980's life, life wasn't as balanced in the household that we live in currently. He worked full time and my mom was a stay at home mom. They had their separate gender roles in the housework and in their relationship to the kids. On top of that, shift work was his reality which meant his time was even more limited. No one can blame him for it, I certainly do not. Even with those challenges he faced, some of my fondest memories involve when he did take any extra time to spend teaching me. He would engage my curiosity and let me solder something or screw the bolts back into place on a piece of machinery he had just repaired. Every chance I got I would push to see what he was doing. I adored those times and still do. As a result, I want to share as much of my experience that I can with Carver and so does Ben. We never want him to feel he isn't welcome to join us in our endeavors.
We've made a concerted effort to expand our world to bring Carver into every thing we can. Effort is the key here, it's not easy and it doesn't come naturally. It requires both of us to step into each other's worlds and sometimes put aside our own urgencies or desires to finish things quickly. That can be a tough hurdle because there are still only 24 hours in a day and our time all together is limited to Saturdays.
Planning for activities and chores when there isn't a second person can be a challenge, but we make it work the best that we can. In the evenings when I'm alone, instead of working on projects that Carver can't be around for, I let him play with the clay and get dirty in my studio. That way I'm not frustrated because I can't get anything accomplished and my creative needs are being met. Plus, there is always something to do in there. Even for just an hour I will work on 3D Printing, blog writing, clay work, painting, printmaking etc. Bonus is that Carver can hang around for those things and even participate in some. When Ben is home, I can work on projects that are a bit more 'PPE time' (we'll call it that), like using power tools or carving with chisels where you need Personal Protection Equipment. Ben will bring him around and talk to him about what I'm doing so Carver is at a safe distance but can see where mommy is and know what I'm working on. It works visa-versa with Ben's projects too. Both of us get our time and Carver gets to be included and learn. It doesn't have to just be about creative projects either, it can include those chores like mowing the grass or repairing a leaky sink. It's good for him to be a witness to those things. It's even better when we take a step back and acknowledge even though the project might take a little more effort if he is there, it's so much more valuable to share that experience with him rather than having him as a bystander.
Carver is already intent on mimicking what we are doing, he pushes around his little push mower after seeing Ben do it. He uses the broom like he's seen both of us do. He pats his lump of clay like I'm doing when I'm forming the balls of clay to throw on the wheel. It's so rewarding to see him put what he is seeing into action. Ben and I both are constantly amazed at this little person taking it all in. As my dad says, "thems new eyes"
As we learn about what type of parents we want to be and to be more aware of each other's needs, we'll be able to navigate these waters of the Dual Maker + Child lifestyle a little better. What's even more exciting will be when we can graduate Carver from finger paints to soldering tools and scroll saws. It will be amazing when we can let him loose on his own projects while we work as well. OR even to have him mow the grass and fix the leaky sink. I certainly can't wait but I'm loving the role that I have now. I'm thankful to my dad for giving me the wrench when he had the ability to and I'm really enjoying motherhood so much more than I ever thought I would, it's so very worth any sacrifice.
Small Business owner and Artist, committed to growing as a maker as well as sharing her and her husband's experience with owning a small maker studio.
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