My 3 Monsters: The Project of a Lifetime

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The Project of a Lifetime

Lately I've been posting a lot about the things I am making and the the busy little things I am doing.  And that's probably what many of you come here to see {thanks!} But that's not why I've gathered you all today.  Today I would like to brag a little about the most important, most exciting project on which I have ever worked.  It has been labor-intensive, requiring almost constant thought and effort.  In fact, it's kind of amazing I have been able to do any of those other things.  Every day there is progress, though sometimes it doesn't seem so.  I have a plan and a vision for this project, but I'm finding the material has a mind of it's own.  Sometimes it is easily molded and quickly becomes exactly what I want.  Other times it is tough and wants to bend in a different way than I have planned.  I've decided that the raw material is so inherently good and beautiful in its own way that I just have to forget MY plan and let it show me a better way to get the perfect end result.  Because it's a medium I have never worked with, really, and I'm still just learning how mold and polish it. I'm nowhere near finished with this project, but I'd really like to share what I have so far:

Phase 1:  Sydney

Early on I realized that everything I thought I knew about mothering was wrong.  Sometimes I feel bad because my  technique was rough and clumsy.  I often did more harm than good, but she was resilient and beautiful in spite of my mistakes.  I over-worked the project in these early stages, thinking that I had to rigidly follow "the plan" and not realizing I could let the material be what it was.  The raw material was beautiful -- I knew that -- but I mistakenly thought I had to change it.  Wrong.  This girl is one tough cookie.  She knows what she wants and figures out {on her own usually} how to get it.  That's my favorite feature now.  This spring she decided she wanted to attend a conference for teen age girls this summer.  It cost $425 and we couldn't afford to pay it for her.  She came to me with a list of ideas to earn the money on her own and asked for my help.  We decided to sell gourmet cupcakes.  I found six delicious recipes.  She made a brochure and started calling everyone we knew.  She did all the sales and took orders.  She helped me bake.  She went on deliveries.  Three weekends of being in the cupcake business and she had earned all the money she needed for the conference plus $100 to pay me back for ingredients.  Amazing.

Phase 2:  Riley

When I began this phase of this project I thought I had figured out what I was doing, but again ran into complications.  This material was a little softer than what I was used to working with, but that didn't necessarily make it easier.  The techniques I had begun to perfect in Phase1 didn't work here at all.  Then there was the added difficulty of working with the two together, incorporating them without losing their unique qualities.  I often felt I was in over my head and failing miserably.  My favorite thing about this one is his long-suffering and patience.  Since being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes six years ago he has had more than his share of difficult, sick days.  His blood sugar is only perfect {like yours or mine}about half the time.  The rest of the time he either feels shaky and weak, or tired and headache-y.  And yet he plows through it all, usually with a smile on his face.  He was in his school's production of Beauty and the Beast this spring playing La Fou -- the funny little guy.  He worked so hard. I saw him in rehearsals really come out of his shell and do a great job.  And then the week of the show he got sick.  On the day of the show, with two performances to do, he had an infection in both ears, a sore throat, and a pretty high fever.  He made it through the afternoon performance alright and I took him home to rest.  By the evening he could hardly move.  He couldn't see any way of making it through that last performance {and neither could I} but there was no one else to take his place.  So he went and he did it.  And if you didn't know better, you would never have known how sick he was.  He was perfect and glorious and didn't even get to enjoy that moment.  Some days my heart breaks for all that he has to endure, but I am so proud of the way he endures with patience and dignity.

Phase 3:  Dylan

When we embarked on this phase of the project {unexpectedly soon after phase 2} I had finally learned to plan on nothing.  I was figuring out that the material was pretty much good just as it was and that my job was to keep it in the right place, not change it's structure.  This piece of the project fit perfectly in and around the other two, evening out the balance of things.  He was sturdy and solid, but easy going when others weren't. Content to wait for my attention.  Soft and pliable, but with a bit of a crust that kept it from being completely crushed by the weight of the other two.  This material has been a little trick to figure out over the years because it behaves unexpectedly at times.  It's a little bit reluctant to stay put, but its randomness adds a bright, colorful quality that livens up the project.  When he was in first grade he cut class {?!} and was caught playing in the bathroom.  When he arrived home that afternoon, note from principal in hand, I asked "What were you thinking?!"  He looked at me very calmly and said, "It's hard to explain."  See? Unpredictable.  This particular material, solid as it seems, melts easily in my hands.  He is unbelievably loving and tender.  Our friends have a baby boy and a three year old daughter and he LOVES them. I can't wait to see him as a father.  We always say he'll be the one to take care of us in our old age.   

So, that's it.  My big project.  I'm sure many of you have similar projects in the works.  I'd love to hear about them -- maybe I'll start a linky party for us all to share our "lifetime projects"!      


  1. Kristen B03 May, 2011

    Maybe I'm overly emotional because it's finals and thinks like eating and sleeping seem like a distant memory...but I was totally tearing up the whole time I read this. You're an amazing mom, and your three monsters are incredible.

  2. Kristen B03 May, 2011

    Um....I meant "things" not "thinks" - apparently thinking is a distant memory also....

  3. Loved this--it makes me think I need to sit down and really think about my projects--their strengths and weaknesses and how I can guide them without insisting on "changing their structures:) Thanks for the remarkable post. And also, thank you for the delightful pages I got in the mail. I know exactly where they are going to go--as soon as I get the frames spray painted.

  4. Anonymous03 May, 2011

    Great insights. Well written. Darling family. Thanks

  5. If we all were better artists - the world would be a happier place don't you think?
    I enjoy experiencing the benefits of your project in all it's phases.
    I've personally worked with all three phases and have found great joy in doing so.
    They are amazing - you are truly an artist!

  6. I LOVED this post. Amy honestly, your phase 1 is so similar to mine. Sometimes I don't know what I'm doing wrong or what I'm doing right with Nathan...but he always loves me regardless. As for phase made me cry..being type 1 diabetic I know EXACTLY what he goes through...and I look up to you so much for having to endure watching your child go through it. I don't know that I could bare it with my son. You are AWESOME...I love reading your posts and seeing all your fun creations! Thanks for the uplifting post that reminds me to keep working at my "project!"


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