School Lunches

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Creating Me

Moms often talk about putting their own aspirations on the back burner and my experience is no different. I married my high school sweetheart when I was 21. I had my first daughter 9 months later. At that time I was still finishing up college studying studio art and interior design. I never sat still, but I also never felt like I was reaching towards my own personal dreams. Sure, I had dreams of being married and being a mom and I accomplished both of those before I turned 22. But I knew I had more to offer but still didn’t have a clear direction of what I wanted to do.

A couple years later I was pregnant with my second daughter and feared the cost of putting two children in daycare while working jobs that were unfulfilling. That’s when I made the decision to open an in-home daycare. Four years, and a third daughter later, that is where I am and I wouldn't change it for the world. The families are wonderfully supportive, the children’s laughter fills my days, and the time spent with my daughters is priceless. However, I once again found myself putting my own dreams on the infamous back burner. That is why January 1, 2015 was the day I decided to hold myself accountable for creating my own life. Obviously we are each responsible for creating our own lives, but for me it was about actually creating.  The thing is, to this day I rarely sit still. I am always making something (usually a mess) but I’ve always been making things for other people. I am now making the choice to create something new every day for me. I create things that will challenge me, help me grow, and create the life that I’ve wanted to live.  In addition to creating food and art I also have been working towards creating more meaningful memories. Learning how to put down the phone, close the laptop, and engage with my children to make simple meal prep, for example, a memorable experience. I have always enjoyed cooking but I have started challenging my own cooking daily with new ingredients and new skills. Also, after years of studying art there are still techniques that I’ve always wanted to try that I simply find too intimidating. I challenge myself to no longer be afraid of failing because the fear of never trying is far more detrimental.

I’ve had a ‘craft room’ but it’s typically been a guest room/storage room/piles-of-junk room/can’t-find-any-space-to-actually-make-anything room. I finally realized the importance of having an inspirational and relaxing space to work in, so I started purging all the little stuff I’ve been holding on to because ‘I could do something with it someday’, and made room to focus on the projects and techniques that I really want to learn. I refinished this old armoire into my dream piece for storing my craft supplies and projects. (Disclaimer – there is still a little more work to be done but I’m so excited about the progress that I couldn't wait to share!) Now, when I walk into my craft room, I can't help but have a little extra motivation.

When it comes to cooking, I have challenged myself to use new ingredients, to create restaurant worthy dishes in my own kitchen.  I find myself wandering around the produce aisle at Hy-Vee to find what new items I want to learn about. It’s not just about creating a dish with them but actually learning about ingredients. I have a true appreciation for food and want to use ingredients to create an experience for my family, not just a meal. Some people may consider it inappropriate to play with your food, but when I see my daughters rearranging their plates or meticulously stacking strawberries and fresh whipped cream on their waffles I know they are actually mimicking me and I can't help but smile.

(Read more about my kumquat vinaigrette here

Earlier I mentioned the importance of creating memories. Putting down the devices and really engaging in activities. This is undeniably my biggest struggle but it is often the most rewarding. With the arrival of spring I can't wait to create memories outdoors, but one of my favorite recent memories was just sitting down next to my three year old as she made her own PB&J. I didn't give her direction. I didn't tell her what to do. I just sat. I watched. I listened as she spoke to me. I watched as her beautiful bright eyes filled with pride in her own creation. 

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." - George Bernard Shaw

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