Today was our last class before the holidays, and we were encouraged to bring in canvasses for our children to paint, which we could then take home as keepsakes or give as gifts. Little J's aunt brought him two canvasses on Sunday, and I was so excited by the idea of him painting art for the whole house and family, that I made an ill-advised trip back to the art store in a wind storm, getting lost in the Fenway neighborhood, inadvertently pulling into an expensive parking lot, and ending up walking about five city blocks holding little J and four awkward canvasses to get back to the car. It would all be worth it, I thought, when our wee Picasso went to town today and made some cool prints.
"He can feel your stress", she said.
Say what, sister?
"He feels your stress. These canvas painting days are really stressful. Parents expect a finished product, and the children just feel the pressure, and it is too much. Buddy, are you stressed out? I'm so sorry", she said to my howling child. I promptly swiped my rag over the gate one last time, scooped him out, delivered him to the bus to play (where he was instantly happy), and gave myself a bit of a time out.
I've decided the only way to be less stressed right now is to become more centered and sure of myself and my own life. Yes, I'm stressed, but what working mom, what mom in general, isn't? My stress is normal, and it isn't all-consuming. If I'm seen by someone in an off moment of an off day and they choose to weigh in, I can't let it derail a certain sense of my own capability and solid foundation as a mom, a wife, and a grown woman. If my green-haired son doesn't feel like painting, perhaps it is because you people have structured this studio so that the kids can still see all the cool toys in the other room while they are meant to be painting, not because I expected my boy to turn into a one man print shop and he feels the pressure from me. And even if he does, he'll get over it. He's resilient, I'm resilient, and stress is part of life.
So, I am now making a declaration:
I hereby accept and embrace the stress in my life. The husband and I have stressful lives because they are rich and full with devoted friends and family, interesting work, stimulating creative outlets and our beautiful son and lovable dog. We load our plates with these things because they interest us and make us feel alive and complete. And sometimes they cause me stress as well. But I can handle it. I am handling it. And I will continue to handle it with the help of friends, yoga, wine, music, running, cooking, and the love of my husband. Art teacher, thank you for your input, but we're doing just fine. I'm going to keep on doing my thing, and so is the little man.
And we're going to be great.
*Photo credits and thanks go to my sister-in-law, who agrees that the art teacher is a bit much.