Jill, (Red Crayon) Michelle.
This Mother's Day was very special, but very different. I spent most of it away from my kids, at the Crayola Factory, with two women I find incredibly inspirational. They kick butt, they take names, they are ferociously creative and incredibly loving mothers. I'm in awe.
Eight years ago, when my little twins were finally home from the hospital and Sophie was one, these two wonderful artistic mamas came on a road trip from two separate states (!) to visit me and take me out to lunch. At the time had only "met" online, but knew we were kindred spirits from the start. We were artists and mothers. And both were equally important to us.
Michelle, me, and Jill, August 2004. We look the same!
We talked of dreams - dreams for our kids, our families, our art. We encouraged each other, shared ideas, and shared the day to day realities too. And we've kept doing just that for the past eight years, through moves, life changes, book deals, new businesses started - we've kept up with each other through message boards, email, phone calls, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, "and," as Michelle says, "whatever's the next way to communicate with each other. We'll do that too."
Since we all live hours and states away from each other, we'd always tried to figure ways to get together over the years, but none of them jelled. But then we got a message from Michelle that she was on a book tour of New Jersey (by way of Ohio and Georgia!) and when could we meet up? The only date that worked for all of us was Mother's Day. Then I had a crazy suggestion...
"Would it help any if we met partway, and then you could contiune on eastward? I think Phillipsburg is about the halfway point, maybe we could all go to the Crayola factory and play!"
With responses from Michelle ("Crayola Factory?!?!") and Jill ("That would be fun!!!") that had us using lots of extra punctuation, I knew that again, we'd all be on the same page. And when we met that morning, it was as if only a couple of weeks, instead of eight years, had passed since we'd seen each other last.
We talked about Michelle's book deals, and Jill's book deals, and (ahem) my lack of said book deals. And how it made perfect sense for me to concentrate on my kids at this time, and that my work would always be there and I would have more and more time to devote to my artwork and "do it right" as they got older and they needed me less. We talked about "Being Elmo" and the need to protect your creativity and your family. About designing book covers. About what it's like to raise teenagers. About celebrating your children and their creativity without losing yours. Oh, and we also painted, sculpted, drew on walls, put our hands up for crayons hot off the press, please, and spent way too much in the Crayola Store. (Research!) We were the only moms there without their kids and were actually kind of gleeful about the whole darn thing. It was, in short, a pretty awesome day, and we left with promises that we'd never go eight years again before seeing each other again. (Ladies, I believe mentions were made, in no particular order, of the beach, the lake, maragaritas, and a spa date. We don't have to do them all in the same trip!)
Did I ever spend time with my awesome kiddos? Of course I did. But that's for the next post....