Monday, March 30, 2015

Own it.

Once upon a time, in a life that doesn't sound like mine anymore, Matt and I were sitting at a table on a breezy patio in front of the Northlake Mall in Charlotte, NC. When we were both employed and childless, we had the freedom to treat each other to dinner dates on Friday nights, and they are now some of my favorite memories.

On this particular night, I was pregnant with our first baby. These Friday date nights had already changed a bit - our indulgences went from a beer with dinner to dessert afterwards, and our conversations went from what to do that weekend to what we'd name our new little guy.

As we chatted over fries, I talked about how much I loved the thought of our son being half me and half Matt. It was such a cool idea to think that a person would exist because of us, and he'd carry our qualities in his DNA. As we mentioned the things we'd hope he'd inherit, Matt said that he hoped he'd get my creativity. Of all the conversations like these leading up to the day we became parents, I remember that one the most clearly, and with the most fondness. I was elated by the idea that I had something unique to offer our baby - we each have our smarts in different areas, possess different yet useful social ideas, and have a few desirable physical qualities apiece - but creativity? That certainly was all mine to offer. And it had never occurred to me before he said so.


Until that point, I never realized how much evidence of my creativity there was in our lives. Sure, I spent Saturdays scrapbooking, I painted rooms bright colors, I sewed the occasional quilt and fixed any buttons that popped off Matts dress shirts - but I didn't realize he was noticing everything. In fact, I didn't think I was even really showing it.

It snuck out from time to time. I DIY-ed a lot of things under the guise of saving money. I made our own (colorful, non-traditional) wedding invitations. I made our reception escort cards out of colorful flower-shaped suckers. But I ended up embarrassed by those things later. I imagined people thinking of me as childish, lame, the opposite of classy. So by this impending-motherhood time in my life, I faked it. I tamed my decor choices and acted like a grown up. I tried dressing like an adult for work (even though I didn't really have to.) I did things in ways that I knew people wouldn't notice.

Safe, middle of the road, standard, nothing special.

Matt still knew my creativity was there - shown safely in my occasional hobby, fueling all of my dreams and ideas. And he hoped our son inherited it. But would our son even see it?

Within the following years, I did start showing it again. I don't know what changed for me - at least in owning up to my creativity around the house. Maybe it was getting my own craft room. Maybe it was using kids as an excuse to get crafty, or having the time to harness what makes my heart beat. The longer I've been a stay at home mom, and the longer we've lived in this house, my creativity spreads further. My decor is all handmade, thrifted, gifted, or looks handmade or thrifted. My craft supplies are a part of our everyday life - spread across our dining room, in storage bins in almost every room of the house. My sons ABSOLUTELY see my creativity now, and score - Luke has inherited at least some of it. Just the other day he coated my kitchen floor in glitter. If my head wasn't hurting from having (presumably) the flu a few days prior, I wouldn't have even cared. He crafts messy and out loud, with no apologies. I hope he never loses it.

If I only ever had to socialize with my immediate family and close friends, I would say the door is closed on this particular train of thought. Insecurity is rearing its ugly head again, though. As Luke enters elementary school and play dates are happening, I'm realizing that his peers are not in homes like ours. It's not a surprise to think that they have more money - that was a given when we moved here. It's more that they have that "grown up" style - brand name furniture in new-build homes with cathedral ceilings and maids to keep every corner pristine. We are not only far from that idea, but everything being so handcrafted in here feels....playful. Oddly teetering between young and granny style. Instead of taking pride in the fact that my hands and heart are a part of everything on display in our home, I feel like hiding - making excuses, pretending to want better.

Adults - real, grown up adults with style and money - they don't want their house to scream arts and crafts. Right?

The other day, when I was cleaning up I thought - should I ask Matt if my creative take on everything is ridiculous? I wonder if he wishes I wasn't like this. Would he prefer the neutral color pallet everyone else lives with? Matchy furniture? Does he wish my dream for our home was more grown up? High class? New? Simpler? Does he hate what I do in our home? I know he has always appreciated my creative side - but does it bother him that it's worked into all parts of our lives?

A thought or two later, I told myself to stop and just own it. You're colorful, quirky, crafty girl. That's who you are. People might not want that in their own lives, but that doesn't mean they can't appreciate it in yours. And what's so bad about appearing youthful, playful - like you don't take life too seriously? 

Own. It.

And I'm trying. I can't help but feel self conscious sometimes, but I try to take comfort in knowing that my kids feel comfortable here. They are free to explore and create. We are close together in our space, and there is a whole lot of love here. When I look around and see yellow, paper garlands, crocheted throws, framed photos taken by me, aqua, pictures of our garden washi taped to the walls, drawings and paintings my kids made and displayed themselves, pink all over my kitchen - I feel happy. I feel bright, energetic, and smiley.

So shouldn't I stop caring? I've checked all the "things that matter" boxes. So why do I still worry about showing my creative side? Why do I try to hide it? Why am I sometimes ashamed?

Haven't I already dealt with this?!

I need constant reminders, apparently. That ugly, insecure voice in my head gets louder and louder until I take a minute to make it go away. Just in case you are as anxious, neurotic, and insecure as I am - here's your reminder.

Own it.

2 comments:

  1. ooooooh wow I love this. I've been struggling with this with my wardrobe. I'm a college junior and everyone here at school has such "grown up" taste. The campus is decked in neutrals and pearls, and my wardrobe is a far cry from anything like that. I'm always wearing bright colors and florals, and I'm just recently realizing that that's never going to change. It's who I am, and I'm going to own it. Awesome post!!!

    acupoftay.com

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    1. I'm so glad you could relate! I struggle with this back and forth all the time - it's intimidating to be even a little bit different, even if it's not wild & crazy!

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