Friday, August 8, 2008

Soule Mama? How About Tired Mama?

I read a book this week called The Creative Family by Amanda Soule, which was recommended on Tara Whitney’s site a while back. The book sounded innocent enough:

“When you learn to awaken your family's creativity, wonderful things will happen: you'll make meaningful connections with your children in large and small ways; your children will more often engage in their own creative discoveries; and your family will embrace new ways to relax, play, and grow together. With just the simple tools around you — your imagination, basic art supplies, household objects, and natural materials — you can transform your family life, and have so much more fun!”

Problem is, Amanda's idea of “relaxing, playing and growing together” includes things that make me equal parts envious and horrified. She doesn’t just knit (EVERYTHING), she makes her own knitting needles. She doesn’t just sew (all her kids’ clothes), she makes pants for her kids out of her husband’s old shirts. She makes “fairy houses” in the woods. She also crochets, gardens, cooks from scratch, turns her children’s drawings into embroidery projects, has a seasonal altar-like space where her kids put their finds from outside, makes all her own holiday gifts and created a “banging wall” in the backyard (discarded pots and pans strung between fallen trees for the kids to bang on). And she does all of this with her kids – two boys and a girl (and one on the way), ages 5, 3 and 1. AND she homeschools – or as she calls it, “unschools.”

Now. Far be it from me to come down on someone for having this idyllic life in Portland, Maine. I think it’s great that she’s so connected to the world around her and her kids. Her book doesn’t have a holier-than-thou attitude, as if we all should be living her life. But it got to me anyway and I had a bit of a breakdown yesterday after thinking about how I spend my time and how much of my days I actually enjoy (maybe 10%?). How the pace of my life is not what I want at all and how I’d prefer the more contemplative, meaningful existence she has.

I could never replicate even half of what she does, nor do I really want to – I don’t sew, I barely cook, I used to cross-stitch but that’s about the extent of my handicraft skills. I could, however, do a better job of spending time outside. I could do more meaningful activities with Lauren besides going to Target every weekend. I could turn the TV off and write. And if I can't make my own stuff, I could at least buy handmade, instead of mass-produced all the time (and I did that today at, a site of all handmade goodies from housewares to clothes to jewelry, which I highly recommend). Check out these pillows I bought. And then go make yourself some fairy houses.


Tela said...

Love the pillows! I was just at etsy tonight. QuiltBaby was having a sale. But, I don't really need anything from QuiltBaby--on top of the fact that it was mostly girl oriented. You should check it out for Lauren though.

I'm gonna pass on the fairy houses though, and I think that book would make me want to throw things, so I'll pass on that, too. I'm lazy like that.

Susan said...

Sometimes I see all those craft and activity ideas in FamilyFun and Wondertime, and just laugh and laugh. Never gonna happen. My kid will be creative in a real independent way. Just like I was!

Anonymous said...

Thank yo so much!
Amanda Soule makes me feel like the worst mother, partner & woman ever!
I know that seems harsh but seriously can she ever show a weakness.