Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day, and Facebook is full of photos and memories and memories-in-the-making and tributes to amazing mothers and radical mothers and those whose families are not bounded by traditional concepts of family.

Lots of tangled emotion around this day.

I was thrilled to find the below piece of artwork in Joy's backpack on Friday!

And check out the message from the back of the painting:

Task = 10 min on task
Prompt + Model
Some Hand Over Hand
Outcome = "Priceless"
This quote says a great deal about how things are with Joy's educational journey this year.

First - that she has incredibly dedicated teachers, turning theory into practice into PRICELESS

Second - that PRICELESS takes an awful lot of work, theory, support.

Third - that we've come a long, long way.

Fourth - that there's rather a long way yet ahead of us.

I learned even more about the artwork in an e-mail exchange when I wrote an e-mail with a thank-you and a couple more questions.  (What, these lazy union-thug-teacher-types actually answer e-mail over a weekend?  Why, um, as a matter of fact -- yes, yes they do.)  
The passion for [Joy]’s watercolor originated from the tulips she and her class planted last Fall in the front of the school. Now you’ll take note they were in splendid bloom last week and we went outside to observe, write, and paint. Two classmates and [Joy] and I settled in at the horseshoe table where first we watched then I offered her choices of color which increased her attention to task. No kidding with little hand over hand you got a lovely swoop and motion piece of art. ... [JoyMama], I am blown away daily when she initiates or comes to her learning table so naturally.
So much to be thankful for.  So very, very much.

And yet, yesterday I was not in a very good place.  I found myself wistful about the little plastic stand in which the artwork had been lovingly placed.  The backpack had been tossed around quite a bit, without Mama knowing that it contained anything so precious -- and by the time I opened it, the stand was broken into three pieces, not harming the art but not possible to repair.

Many second-graders, with such a treasure for Mama in the backpack, would be brimming over with the delight of the gift they were about to bestow.  We'd have been digging in the backpack before we even left the school yard, or maybe refusing to let the backpack open, carrying it home like the crown jewels and teasing Mama about the secret.

Did Joy even know that the art was in her pack?  Did she know it was for Mama?  Did she remember that it had been in a plastic holder before?  Did it bother her that now it wasn't?

There was another bit of the e-mail that rocked my boat too:
Your other treasure, the pencil topper as well was completed with her Buddies.
Pencil topper?  What pencil topper?  I didn't know anything about a pencil topper.

I had to go back to the backpack and look -- and fortunately there it was, in the take-home folder that I'd failed to open in my mixed delight and angst about the beautiful painting and the shards of plastic.  (The stem of the flower is a pencil.)

This time, I found myself wistful that I'd missed it on the first round, and once again missing the component that would have involved the excitement of Joy presenting her creation to me.  All the overt excitement had to come from my end -- "Prompt + Model" -- sigh.

Two things helped pull me back out of the wistful place.  Two things from Facebook, as a matter of fact.

Often the child who made her a mother can’t understand a holiday, can’t carry a tray to give her breakfast in bed and won’t be bringing her a bunch of violets or a card made all by himself. These moms celebrate their day with their different child in a different way. 
And celebrate they do. They find joy in the knowledge that they are nurturing a child’s spirit as well as her health. They take satisfaction in knowing that each accomplishment, however small it may look to others, is a major victory. Each of her child’s achievements is at least partly her own. She knows the value of her efforts and the importance of keeping a positive attitude and counting the blessings of every day.
So many things to celebrate.  SO many things to celebrate.  So MANY things to celebrate.  So many things to CELEBRATE!

The other was a video-setting of a speech made at Kenyon College in 2005.  The title on the video is perhaps a little breathless ("The Earth-Shatteringly Amazing Speech That’ll Change The Way You Think About Adulthood"), but the content is a powerful reminder of the importance of choosing one's emphasis, choosing one's attitude.  A reminder that it's all too easy to let annoyance and pessimism be the default path of least resistance -- when the more aware, the more educated path involves a deliberate self-reminding of that which is sacred in the most mundane.

Usually I do a pretty good job of reminding myself, but this weekend I did need the reminder.

And this, here... this is sacred, and actually not mundane in the slightest!

Happy Mother's Day!

And now, Joy and I are going to go out and play in the sun.