Guest Post! “Footprints”
Bio Blurb: Slee is the kinda-crunchy mom of Snapdragon, her sustainable baby, and Mongoosine, her eco-chid. She’s the babywearing, breastfeeding, attachment parenting, lactivist, intactiivist type. Although she doesn’t fight crime by night, she does think that sounds like a pretty sweet gig.
Blog Summary: Paisley&Pretties, a midwestern mom’s creatively sustainable approach to life, the universe, and making everything just that much more fantabulous.
I remember quite clearly the day I went into the hospital to have Mongoosine. Both of them, rather. I had wretched pre-eclampsia and had been on bedrest for what felt like longer than I was pregnant. Yes, I know it’s mathematically impossible, but if you’ve ever been on strict, lights-out, lay-on-your-left-side, only-get-up-to-pee-no-more-than-FOUR-times-a-day bedrest, you know what I mean about how long it felt.
I remember how my parents drove me to the hospital that fine Tuesday morning. I remember being checked in, putting on the hospital gown, being hooked up to monitors, having every intern and nurse in the building come look at my hooha, and being told to go home so everyone could focus on a higher risk woman in active labor. Bummer. This isn’t about that time.
I also remember how two days later, on a bright Thursday morning, I packed my hugely bloated self into the car and headed tentatively back to the hospital. Well, this time they hooked me up, started a pitocin drip, ruptured my amniotic sac, and by 4:42 in the afternoon, (I’ll spare you the gory details) I first met my Mongoosine. Up until that moment, I didn’t understand what all of the mothers out there always said about how they never knew they coul feel so much for another human being. How they wanted to somehow magically make the world a better place for this perfect and precious little creature. How they were filled with this overwhelming and radiating love and a desire to teach that little creature all the good things in the world. I very distinctly remember wanting to teach her how to look at the world with a creative eye.
I remember watching them ink her foot and create her very first piece of artwork. A footprint on a piece of parchment.
When she was about a month old, my mother and I got it into our heads that it would be a great idea to repeat the process. You know, so that we could send out announcements with original footprints. Of course, we were much too cool to use any nasty chemical laden ink that might be hard to wash off without abrasive chemicals, so we started with ketchup on the baby’s foot. Mongoosine thought it was squishy, but proceeded to be a little too squishy footed for the paper.
Mustard was too gloopy. Didn’t even leave a discernable footprint. Chocolate sauce was a little too runny, but did do a nice job of inking her foot, so to speak. Barbeque sauce, well, it may have left the best of the footprints, but she was so upset at the whole cold wet stuff on her foot thing by that point that it was pretty hopeless. That, and we were all getting hungry. Mmm, baby feet never looked so yummy!
Suffice it to say, there would be no clear original footprints of Mongoosine to be had by anyone. Well, no one but me, because I had the one the professional footprint printers, er, nurses did.
Fastforward three-quarters of a decade, well 7/10ths.
It turns out that I’m one of those mommies. The type of mom who still has it stuck in her head that she is going to create a creative genius, no matter what. By this point I’ve had Mongoosine’s artwork displayed in a museum, and am constantly on the lookout for new artistic techniques to expose her to. Broken crayons? Lets melt them onto paper and carve in the wax. What? Your ribbon broke? Looks like the perfect piece for a colage to me! What? You want to design a quilt? Sure, let’s do that. You have an idea for a story? Dictate and draw some pictures, I’ll print it out and we’ll make covers, bind it, and give it away, complete with author bio. Want to wear stripes with polkadots and a sequined headband with furry poncho? Sure. Sounds like a plan.
Create, create, create.
Yes, one of those moms. The one who tells people who call and ask what she wants for her birthday that more than anything she’d like art supplies or something else creatively stimulating. Toys? Pish posh. A canvas. The latest Disney musical DVD? No, clay.
I went out of my way to be encouraging of the little budding Kahlo or Degas. What I wasn’t ready for was the Sunday after her birthday coming down the steps into the family room with the off-white carpet to find that she’d taken the lovely paints she’d recieved for her birthday, painted the bottoms of her feet purple and blue, and proceeded to dance around the room.
Paint. Feet. Carpet. Dancing.
That’s right. Perfect purple and blue footprints, the kind I tried so hard to print when she was a baby, “decorated” the formerly off-white carpet.
In retrospect, I should have seen it coming.
Lessons learned: Embrace your child’s creative exuberence for creating, despite the effects on the carpet.
White vinegar can help get an off-white carpet looking off-whiter after removing the bulk of the paint with regular old carpet scrubbing goodness.
We still did art projects that week, and I treasure those memories deeply.
When we went to move, some two years after said footprint fiasco, finally scrubbing the last of the paint out of the carpet, I was sad to see them go. Sure, I was less than pleased at the time, but now, I woudln’t trade having the girl who is creative enough to get into that kind of trouble for anything.
Now I need to repeat this to myself before I go out into the family room. I didn’t look twice for fear of spoiling my mood, but I think the wall might know where my red lipstick went…