I am not quite sure why I am struggling to write here. I think, in reflection, part of the issue is that I am spreading out too thin. It feels like I have gotten myself down to a single cell unit spread over a wide span of life. Talking with David the other day, I noted that I often feel so overwhelmed with trying to remember all the things for the different parts and needs of our life. I have post-it notes, and lists, and to-dos on so many different platforms right now and remembering where those are is a job! Trying to be efficient, inspiring and supportive in the classroom for 8 hours a day, then cooking a nutritious meal for dinner, playing with intention and focus with the kiddos, connecting deeply beyond a “How was your day?” “Good, you?” “Good,” with David, and then somehow also fitting in time to teach/expose H + O to how to ride bicycles, swim, know their colors and letters, and have robust experiences and grade papers and give feedback and design lesson plans for school, and try to build my pottery studio is often invigorating and defeating simultaneously. I try to remind myself that all of this is like the breathing process. You take a deep breath in and find wonder in how expansive you can get your capacity but then you breathe it out and contraction is an inevitable part of the process too. I am not sure where in that “in and out,” I am currently. Half of my head says “contraction” there is not enough hours in the day or sleep and rest being carved out, the other half is fighting against the contraction and hoping to suck in more and more air but is somehow gasping still. It is not like I can change very much though. I want to be all the things, but I think I need to revisit some of my structures and processes too or maybe it is more my mindset and just giving myself a mental break from time to time, like taking a bath or not listening to podcasts every drive in to work so there is a little space of nothingness in a full day.
It might only be about two weeks into my new craft, but I am completely smitten by it all. Less than two miles from my home is this tiny white antique home whose first floor is entirely dedicated to pottery making. I ran by this little quaint home so many times when I was training for my half-marathon this summer and always wondered what exactly went on in the Center of Arts. When researched, it became clear that this little home was the cultural center of our town where kids and teens and adults flexed their creative muscles in classes from watercolors and acting to wheel-throwing. Immediately, I was intrigued! Could I take a class here? Could I make it work within the busy schedule of a full-time working mom? While the idea flirted about in my mind for months, it never felt like it would really work out. Between grading and little ones and wanting to connect with my hubs, when would I hone a hobby? Then on my 33rd birthday tucked into my birthday card, David smiled as I opened the piece of paper that said, "Surprise! For the next 3 months Tuesday nights are YOUR night to get creative, meet new people, and make new things." It was awesome!
David is the king of hobbies and interests. He always has something cool cooking in his head from bread baking to the guitar to programming arduinos and chess, he is never short on ideas on how to hone his mind and entertain his spirit. I on the other hand have major struggles in this department. When we were dating, we googled "What are people's hobbies" to help me look through an extensive list of what people get into in case there was something for me to get behind. I chose knitting and while that was fun, I suffered from narcolepsy whenever I settled into an afternoon of knitting and purling. Maybe it was too relaxing? Maybe I was not really ready for hobby and my body was like, "What are we doing something for ourselves...shut systems down!" It only lasted a season. Then my free time was mostly being a teacher. There is so much to bring home when you are a teacher that nights can easily be consumed by lesson planning, curriculum development, and grading. Oh, the dreaded pile of grading! Then came the babies and I was doomed to lose sight of creative exploits that I had yet to even really grasp.
Now that Owen is closing in on that two year birthday and Henry is 3.5, things just feel really different. We are all sleeping, they are eating well, and are so easy these days too. They play and pick up and go and life just feels lighter. My mind is so much clearer as it no longer is consumed with baby-logistics like: When will I breastfeed next? What do I need in my diaper bag? What toys and gear should we have? Where will the boys nap? How do we get home in time for naps? Do we just do a car nap? When will I cook dinner? How will I fold laundry or take a shower? Our routine these days is so simple and easy and I just love so much this stage of life. It literally feels like a light has switched on and I am able to look up out of the trench of early motherhood and look around a bit.
So getting that gift certificate to become a potter was the most exciting thing! On Tuesday nights, I kiss the littles and hold tight to David for a moment longer before putting on some cozy clothes and a pair of clogs (for some reason, I feel like as a potter I should wear clogs), and head to class. What I have learned so far is that I have a deep, deep need to be teacher's pet. I also have false expectations about how easy it should be. When I made my first misshapen pot and beamed with pride, I turned to the woman beside me and saw her perfect Roman vase and thought, "damn this is hard stuff." But I find that while I am not a prodigy of pottery, I am loving to learn and learning a lot from being a student, from being vulnerable, and from taking this risk on my own and going way out of my comfort zone. I have never been a maker but have secretly always wanted to make. I am hoping this journey teaches me how to make mugs, plates, and bowls but also how to have fun, learn a craft, believe in myself, learn a new discipline and a new patience, and build a long commitment to being a potter. I have this fantasy too to replace all the mugs in my house with ones I have made. So, if you would like me to make you something drop a line below because I am planning on going through all the clay in the studio and would love to share my misshapen (maybe one day shapely) creations with you too!