I learned some great life lessons when I sat down to make valentines with my kids this past weekend.
Amy Brenneman: It's not a good idea (we should all know this by now) for me to do crafts with my kids. It always seems like a good idea, and crafting at home is certainly part of the profile that I'd like to have as a mom -- along with making homemade lentil soup and doing community service by picking trash up in the park. It's not that I don't do cool and worthy stuff with my kids; I do. It's just that when the image of the mothering gets in the way of the actuality of the mothering, we're all in trouble.
The funny thing is, I'm not very crafty. My mother-in-law is, as is my sister-in-law and many of my friends. There's felting and quilting and knitting and crocheting going on in many corners of my life -- just not my own. So for me to suddenly get bossy about the way the valentines are made is hypocritical, to say the least. But I do.
"Don't put too many sparkles on, there, Bodhi!"
"Hey, Charlotte, you should do more on the INSIDE of the card, right?"
I keep it jaunty, but there is tension in my voice -- which, thankfully, my children don't even take in. They are too absorbed with the glue stick, the sparkles, the stamps -- the actuality of having FUN -- to notice my obsession with doing it RIGHT.
Right? Who am I, anyway? This is me, who said I would never force my children to color within the lines, or criticize them if they were off pitch, or tell them that the sky has to be blue and the grass has to be green. Oh yeah, I forgot: Those rules are lumped in the pile of Opinions I Spouted Off Before I Had Kids. God, I was a great parent then.
"Hey, buddy, how about a little red on those hearts? Valentines shouldn't be all black, right?" Stamp stamp stamp: little black hearts.
"Hey, Bodhi, do you know what Valentine's Day is about, anyway?" Stamp stamp stamp. Stop. Look. Four-year-old eyes blinking with curiosity. "Not really," he answered.
I paused, my fingers itching to take away the black stamp pad and replace it with red, to scrape some of the piles of sparkles off to create a more pleasant shine, to remove some of the countless stickers and spread them out more evenly. "What's it about, Mommy?" he asks again.
I tell my fingers to stop itching, remind them that these are Bodhi's valentine's, not mine, and answer sheepishly, "It's about Love."
It's about Love. Craft on that, mama.
|Amy Brenneman is an award-winning producer and actress whose TV credits include "NYPD Blue," "Judging Amy" (which she also created and produced), and currently ABC's "Private Practice." She works with the nonprofit groups Healthy Child/Healthy World, The Feminist Majority and the Cornerstone Theater Company -- of which she's a founding member. She is mother to Charlotte and Bodhi and wife to filmmaker Brad Silberling. They live in the San Fernando Valley, the most hip place to be in all of Los Angeles.|