…but it’s nice to let our minds go there every once in a while, isn’t it? To tap into our inner child, to get down to a world at eye level and to create something, even if it’s kind of frivolous in a way?
It’s spring break here this week, and I wanted to interject a little bit of off-the-beaten-path kind of fun into our days at home together, so I signed us up for a fairy garden class this morning. You’d think that having preschool only three mornings a week wouldn’t change much, but truly, I’m realizing the impact of time missed at home when we’re out three mornings for school and a fourth for ballet. I’m quite enjoying the slower pace of these past few days (minus the extra squabbles), and I’m anxious for summer to allow us a similar kind of breathing space, if only with sunshine and warmer days to go with it.
At any rate, and as with so many things in life, my vision for this morning’s class was awfully idealistic. We’d get downtown early, maybe go for coffee first, sit nicely together at a table and create these etherial little spaces as a great mom/kiddo/sibling bonding experience. It seemed like the sweetest extra to add to the middle of our week, and it gave us all an outing to look forward to together.
Naturally, Eloise is trailing a cold and woke up early with a sad cough. I brought her into our bed for a snack and Daniel Tiger on the iPad so that I could sneak in “just a few more minutes” of sleep. Only I didn’t sleep for just a few more minutes. I slept another hour. (It’s gloomy and rainy today, and also spring break, so that’s fine, but…) When mom doesn’t get her day going at the right hour, no one does. By the time we left for our fairy garden workshop, we’d hurried parts of breakfast, battled a nasty squirrel at the window birdhouse no less than a dozen times (should have taken video…), and exchanged frustration in ways I just can’t get excited about as a mom. With three strong personalities around here on a given weekday, we’re navigating new communication waters and having to set new boundaries for all involved. It’s just not very pretty. Nope. It’s not fairy garden like at all.
So we arrive downtown (even a few minutes early) and get wrapped up in tiny bird houses and miniature things that fairy garden dreams are made of, and for a time, everyone in our crew is co-existing happily again. We get instructions, choose “vessels” and succulents to accompany our miniature delights and we get to work. There are a dozen of us or so, in a smallish space, everyone looking for the perfect accessories to create these tiny, happy little worlds. It’s dreamy. And a bit messy. And good.
Henry has enlisted the help of a shop employee, so I’m busying Eloise with spooning dirt into her self-selected, pale blue tea cup. We’ve picked out a plant “with pink on it!”, a pinwheel, a tiny duckling and, to Eloise’s delight, a squat and adorable pink pig. No fairies here. This garden is all about the farm. Perfect for her in every way.
Henry’s garden is tall and green. A soft-leaved succulent at it’s center, there’s a bird house, a nest with eggs, a yellow bird, blue stones, and a must-have glow-in-the-dark lightning bug. We moms, we can’t say no to these things when we’re trying to facilitate a dreamy outing, and let me tell you–there’s apparently nothing dreamy about leaving your fairy garden without a lightning bug. Obviously.
I think things got sticky when I decided that a trio of fairy gardens would look sweeter than a duo in the bay window at home. I did this, partly because these tiny little worlds are adorable, and partly because I wanted in on the fun, too. The kiddos were nearly done with their gardens when I started to build mine, so naturally, their only option to pass the time was to fall off chairs and run around in tiny spaces. Yep. Those feel like winning ideas to two and almost-five year olds. And so, run they did. While I’m quickly putting together a teensy fairy world and trying to find a zen moment in the day (interpret my use of “zen moment” loosely), Henry and Eloise are acting their age and having a great time. In minutes, I’m admittedly getting frustrated, embarrassed, edgy. These kinds of emotions I do not equate with potting plants and creating beautiful tiny things, but alas.
We have our gardens wrapped up to go home, each carefully packed into it’s own bag with colored tissue that delights the wee ones as we grab our things to make our exit. But before we can go, the littles need a potty break (and/or diaper change), so we hold off on rain coats and bags and get ourselves sorted out while engaging in further shenanigans and delightful behavior.
I leave the store with two energized and excited kiddos, each swinging their dirt-filled glass and ceramic containers in brightly colored bags and exclaiming goodbyes to the sweet women who have patiently orchestrated our crafty experience. And while I should probably be happy and lighthearted about the whole thing, I drive home cranky and praying for new eyes and a refreshed spirit before we pull back into the driveway, a mere five minutes down the road.
The fact of the matter is, whether we have two kids or seven or none at all, some days just aren’t going to meet our expectations. Many won’t, in fact. In my case, it’s usually because my expectations are too high to begin with, or because I don’t leave enough margin for breathing space. I thought I was getting better at this, but the kids are both at new stages again, and I feel like I’m learning them anew while I go through new stages myself. We’re all a little green in this season.
Sometimes I imagine the dreamiest scenario and know wholeheartedly that it’s not likely to turn out that way, but I still don’t completely let go of the loftiest version. Sometimes I get so fixed on a detail that matters a great deal to me, and I gain tunnel vision toward that thing until I can figure out how to make it happen or I realize too far down the line that it’s time to let it go. There’s merit in my glass half full approach to many things, and merit in the fact that I’m determined and I like a challenge. But I’m not sure that this season of life–with small children running around and so many factors outside of my control, is the right season to have such high expectations of myself or the little people looking up at me.
There are three very sweet and very individual, tiny fairy gardens sitting in the bay window this afternoon, and the kids are proud of their work. My little creation probably delights me just as much, mostly because in the craziness and busyness of life, I think there’s value in getting your hands a little dirty, in slowing down to notice the smallest treasures, in getting down to things at eye level. Surely, our fairy garden experience has caused me to get down to my own little world with different perspective this afternoon.
Art and creativity, the opportunity for sweet outings and time with our children–none of these are things I take for granted. Not a bit. The charmed things in life are exactly that: charmed. And while I lamented (for a little while) today over behaviors and strong wills, I am also celebrating the reminder that Henry and Eloise are creative and visionary and determined in their own ways. They genuinely enjoy each other and all of the chaotic joy they manifest together, and they know that they are deeply loved in both significant and frivolous ways. How’s that for a spring break takeaway on this rainy Wednesday? 😉
I don’t get it right all of the time. Hardly at all. But I do try, and I’ll probably keep on trying. Meanwhile, if you need me, I’ll be dreaming about tiny, quiet spaces and/or playing referee. They’re basically one in the same these days.