Thursday, July 24, 2008

Chaos Equals Creativity

Yesterday was one of those days that either makes you or breaks you as a mother.

I was sitting on the couch nursing John. Considering how hard won that is, you can understand why I was reluctant to move. Then the phone rang. I rarely get a chance to talk to my nearest and dearest anymore without a child screaming in my ear, so when Sam crept off to Tom's office and occupied himself there for the next ten minutes, I thanked my lucky stars. Until that is, he uttered the magic word - "doot".

I went to investigate. My type-A, neat freak husband’s office was a scene of carnage. There was cat food spread across the carpet from wall to wall. The cat litter scoop was in the center of the room and a tell-tale trail of litter lead back to the litter box. Thomas the Tank Engine was upended in the cat’s water dish, half consumed by a layer of mushy-cat-food-and-self-clumping-litter quicksand. Sam’s diaper was sagging nearly to his knees. I tried to grab him but he made a break for it and headed to the dining room and the newly-laid, perfectly pristine tile floors. In his zeal to escape, the diaper crept ever lower, until it landed on the floor. Now half-naked Sam and I began a little dance around the dining room table. He kicked off his diaper, a huge ball of poop flew out from it, bounced onto a tile, then another one. Of course Sam stepped in it and tracked a poop circle around the dining room table, giggling nonstop as John wailed from the living room.

The fact that I didn't lose it right then and there is a testament to how much I have embraced the role of Mommy. There was a part of me that wanted to scream and pull out my hair, but the other part of me, the one called Mommy, has grown to expect this sort of thing. Children, by their very nature, are unpredictable creatures. Sam is Captain Chaos. Tonight, for reasons I will never understand, he shoved a dog food nugget up his nose. The after hours nurse could barely get through the phone call without cracking up. And yes, he'll live.

The fact that I am a writer and a mother means that I look at his (mis)adventures with the eye of a novelist. Obviously, this is going into a book someday. It’s too perfectly awful to keep it to myself. But it is also perfectly wonderful. There's been a lot of talk lately on Creative Construction (www.creativeconstruction.wordpress.com) about embracing opportunities for creativity, and as mothers, not sweating the small stuff. At the same time, the parenting books I've been reading stress the importance of seeing the best in our spirited children. Sam's viking-esque sacking of Tom's office demonstrates curiosity, persistance, creativity. Who knows what he was thinking about when he dumped cat food and kitty litter into the water dish? Whatever it was, he carried it out with gusto. These are admirable traits, even though his nearly-two-year-old methods are tough to take (and clean up after).

In my own life, I find that a little spontenaity is a good thing - even when no one else appreciates it and it requires no small amount of clean up. Sam and his mother both need opportunities to slip away and experiment, make messes, and be creative in their own ways.

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