For one year– from Spring2010 to Spring 2011, I turned my growing family into a laboratory. My purpose– to set each of us on a Creative path of our own. We began in the grand central space we call The Music Room. Our old piano is here and our shelves are stuffed with great books. There are Kapla blocks to build with and a wooden castle with queens and kings to play with. For one week I’m writing about what I’ve learned this year– about Creativity and what it takes to live it. My previous post: Two Creative Types. Today’s post is the last in this series.
How you live and the things you do make a huge difference in the span of one year. I realize this isn’t news to most people. Backpacking across Europe at eighteen, interning at the White House after college or getting pregnant and delivering triplets– these things will definitely change your life forever, in the span of one year. But, when I started this Creating Brains project, I really was not sure where we’d be in one year. Setting each of us, my five children and myself, on a Creative path of our own, seemed more than daunting, although not impossible. Check out what has changed for each of us in the last twelve months:
- Baby: Living at UCSD Medical Center — the NICU. Taking caffeine straight and pure through a tube (caffeine: oxygen saturation stabilizer for pre-mature babies, who knew?). Three pounds. No eyelashes yet.
- Two-year old: Waking every two hours at night because of early (for her) weaning. Innocent. Taking two-hour walks outside every morning with our Thai Au pair. Always happy to see me. Hooked on chocolate soy milk.
- Five year old: Quiet around new people. Sober. Often sitting in my recliner when I’m not home. At peace sitting on daddy’s lap with head on his chest, clutching pink Blankie. Happy to be read to. Wondering what will happen next. Always happy to see me.
- Eight-year old: Elusive. Looking for things to do. Sometimes playing with Legos. Practicing spinning a basketball. Explaining everything to his five-year-old sister. Temporarily hard-of-hearing. Playing a middle school jock in local production of High School Musical. Attending endless rehearsals sitting through hours of watching others with bigger parts.
- Ten year old: Shoulders sagging with responsibility. Ready to cry. Looking for things to do. Telling others (siblings, baby-sitters, family helping out) what to do. Getting ahead in Math. Playing “brainiac” in local production of High School Musical. Attending endless rehearsals. Taking long walks outside with iPod.
- Me: Spending every other night in hospital with new baby. Seeing her every day no matter what. Singing to new baby. Holding new baby. Pumping breast-milk she can drink when I’m not with her. Traveling an hour each way to see baby. Chatting with my dad about politics, neuroscience and family history as he drove me to the hospital every day. Hugging every one when I get home. Sitting with each child. Listening to their troubles. Reading them stories. Drinking good water. In the moment– future unsure and far away. Husband working full-time and helping two-year old go back to sleep (every two hours) at night.
- One-year-old: Opening every cabinet door and drawer. Crawling and laughing at the same time– when I try to dress her in the morning. Eating lentils, rice, mission figs, strawberries, baguette butts and broccoli. Heavier every day– lovely fat legs. Speaks– Mama, Dada, blah, blah, blah, la, la, la. Yells “ah”! Nursing every two hours at night. Laughing. “Getting” she’s part of a family (I can’t prove this, but I’m super-sure).
- Three-year old: Sleeping without waking at night. Wanting to live on cake, whip cream, chocolate milk, ice cream and candy. Loving outings of any kind (favorites: library, bookstore) . Missing our former Thai Au Pair– June (gone back home) and saying “When June gets back…” . Always happy to see me, except when I ask her to put her cowboy boots next to the front door. Playing Legos with her brother and playing tiger with daddy. Saying, “But mama..” a lot. Playing indoors a lot. Spending time looking at picture books. Hoping to be included in everything her siblings do.
- Seven year old: Initiating conversations with anyone interesting. Walking to grandparents’ house to chat and help with household chores. Looking up horse prices and horsemanship summer camps. Happy, mature and calm, except when goofing off with her brother (often). Always happy to see me. Grateful when I kiss her good-night or tell her a story
- Nine-year old: Waking before 6:00 a.m. Busy with Legos. Being “helpful” (his word) by spending one on one time with three-year old. Cracking up over his bodily-function themed jokes. Reading comic books. Looking forward to the rest of the day, and tomorrow and the far future. Incredibly positive. Counts his blessings. Taking piano lessons.
- Eleven year old: Sleeps in a little (compared to all the early birds). Organized. Hating tardiness of any kind. Getting ahead in Math and Science. Reading for pleasure. Hand-making tortillas as a snack. Loving her long hair. Laughing often. Spending quiet time with herself– walks, drawing, reading.
- Me: Teaching college History. Writing seven pages of un-edited dribble every day, long hand. Driving a lot– taking kids everywhere. Remembering past adventures. Chatting with my mom every day– finding joy in her health improving. Mourning my aunt’s (and her family’s) tragic death (3 weeks ago). Missing my grandmother who lives so far from me. Needing time alone everyday, getting some some days. Singing to baby. Laughing with three-year-old. Adjusting to developmental changes in eleven-year-old. Reading The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore– brilliant new novel. Missing husband when he works long. Having so much today, the future gets little of my mental energy. Questioning. Deeply happy and tired in turns, or even at the same moment.
So there you have it. My children are bouncy. Some of them have passions to strive for. I’m writing. The future is shining.
This year has made all the difference in the world.
Yep. It has!