Today my husband asked me to join him downtown for coffee before he set off to the library to write his column. I thought of my own workload for a moment. But it's not raining today (hooray!)and I'd made good progress during the weekend. So I said sure, and we headed out.
I'm so glad we did. We ran into not one, but two old friends we had not seen in ages. The three of us (mothers) had hung out when our children were very young. For different reasons, we all moved apart (different jobs, different towns, different-sexed children!) but still delight in catching up when we can. And both had wonderful insights for us on our daughter's decision not to attend college this fall.
Two people who dropped suddenly back into my life on chance encounters within 20 minutes of each other, with reassuring thoughts to share with us. How cool is that??
The message from both was similar: Our kids will be okay. They must follow their own path, and make their own way. We've given them all we can--love, guidance, good examples. Now it's up to them.
We have to trust our process. Do what we do best--simply be there for them. And let go of the outcome.
This weekend, I had the same kind of epiphany with my artwork. I had a special commission from the ACC-Baltimore show I'd been dragging my heels on. Well, I've been busy, too. But it was an assignment I wasn't sure how to approach, and it baffled me.
A woman had fallen in love with my new Lascaux Horse and Cave Bear bracelets. She liked the Fossil Fish bracelets. But she wanted HER talisman--a bird. Could I make a bird?
Something in me leaped to say "Sure!" even while my anxiety level instantly soared. How was I going to make an ancient bird???
I had an idea, but it involved drawing a bird. And I have issues with drawing.
I doodled and drew with some skill in high school and college, but never really mastered it. Never really LIKED it, even. I did it because it identified me as an artist--"Look, she can draw! She's an ARTIST!" But I never enjoyed the meditative process, the discipline, that makes for a GOOD drawing.
Eventually I found my way to making my own kind of art, and I've been fulfilled with that--layering, texturing and manipulating fabric, shaping artifacts out of clay, designing jewelry, etc. But very little of what I do involves drawing.
So I struggled for weeks drawing and etching little bird patterns on small tablets of the ivory-formed clay. They were cute, and they almost worked. But not quite.
And as I sat yesterday and rolled out another tablet of clay to try again, something odd happened. I rolled an egg of clay...and I suddenly saw a pattern that looked like a wing. A wing! Without even thinking about it, my hands went to work and formed--a little bird!
He was adorable--smooth and sleek, as if someone had carved him out of real ivory. I etched in little details--eyes, a large bill, wings. I made up four more, marked them, smoothed them and popped them in the oven.
I couldn't wait for them to cool before I sanded them, antiqued them and polished them. They look WONDERFUL. They really look like small amulets carved out of old ivory, worn to a silky-smooth finish.
Best of all, they are ME. They LOOK like my work--not a bad imitation of someone else's work.
Today, after talking with these two old friends, it hit me: When I let go of what I thought I was "supposed" to do--draw a bird--and let my inner artist come out--modeling a bird--I ended up with something I felt really, really good about.
When I let go of what I think my daughter's next steps SHOULD look like--and let her own "inner person" out--I bet we'll both have something we can feel really, really good about, too.
Maybe it's time to trust in my parenting skills and let my daughter go--and grow--through HER process.