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I am thrilled to share with you the series of guest posts appearing here in the month of June, as I take a little extra time to settle in and soak up my family and the new life among us. "Soulful Mothering" is a series of written words, photographs, craft projects and thoughts on mothering from some of my favorite ladies on the web. I'm so grateful to each of them for sharing their time with me, and their hearts and words in this space. I have been inspired by the gifts they've shared, and I'm sure you will too. Enjoy!
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Space and the sharing of it. It was the first concept of motherhood that I didn't see coming (followed by oh so many more). And not space sharing in the form of deciding which room in the house to use for a nursery and how to decorate it. Heavens no, I was still in an art school dorm room. The first space that I had to share, consciously and intentionally, was my own self. It took me by complete surprise, how it felt, a bit of an invasion. And that was the real beginning of me sharing, consciously and intentionally. And that girl, the two of us, we shared everything, my childhood room, tucking her little clothes onto the shelves that used to hold high school prom photos, spring break silliness. She fit right in. With me. And only months later, after Jeff and I were married, the three of us, we all tucked in nicely into our own tiny home. Her room. Our room. A tiny sun porch for me to keep art supplies. I painted her a toy chest in that room, putting off my school work. Fuschia and yellow sunflowers.
Five more babies, little space invaders, since then. And each one has come to us and found us in some other situation or some other home. An we squeeze in. Tuck this here, tuck that there. Move that child together with the older. Decide no more toys in the living room but only in the bedrooms. Decide not more toys in the bedrooms (that's chaos!) but from now on, we just keep toys in this one corner of the den. I have sat motionless in a room, whether a family room, an almost always shared child's bedroom, or my studio, and just stared. Countless times over the years. Staring, thinking, eyes shifting back and forth, rearranging furniture in my mind. And if I could just stare hard enough, I would will the room into a bigger dimension, and will the furniture suddenly more suitable, and will the arrangement entirely more capable of organizing all of our stuff. A beautiful room then, finally, everything in its place. Yes, finally, all will be well. It was the arrangement that was the problem all along, no?
And then. No. Chaos. Life. Homework. Workwork. Babies. Toys. Books (we have a bookshelf you know!) Crayons. Papers. Drawings. Threads, Needles. Pins. Ouch. And it seems in no time I am back to the beginning and wondering why its all a mess again. How, when it seems just seconds ago everything had a home, a spot, a place? This cycle has occurred in every home we've had no matter the size, the possessions, or the amount of buckets, bins or boxes we have to try and contain ourselves. And we do, as a family clean together every Saturday (awe, no mom, not cleaning!) Yes we do. We grit our teeth, no one harder than me, and we do it. Over and over.
When, after 20 years of working as a designer, I finally had the opportunity to design a workspace from scratch in our attic, my dreams were indeed lofty. Not fancy, just very specific, coming to know what I need, after so many different work space situations (my first sewing studio was a closet after all). I knew of course that these children of mine would carve out their own little nooks and crannies, over time, but I still somehow tricked myself into believing that this was my space. A space with a door. You know, one that can open and close. But. Well. You can imagine. Its not my space at all. Nor should it be, it is ours. And we live in every inch of it, every one of us.
I've learned (and I write this sitting in my utter mess of a dream studio) that its not the size of your space, the perfection of your organization skills or the cleanliness (what?) of your children that keeps you feeling all tucked in and happy. It is actually just deciding to feel tucked in and happy. Despite the mess. Giving yourself the permission to let it be what it is. A family living together in one space, with invisible boundaries. Where much can be shared, discovered and learned (and dumped, and scribbled and torn apart too).
As I was sewing in the studio this morning, it actually took me quite a while to realize that I had slowly, one at a time, come to share the room with 5 other souls (the 6th tucked downstairs for naptime) who were each perfectly occupied in their own corner. Ideal parallel play. The idea of it was astounding. I looked up from my work at all of them, from one to the next, just staring at each. None aware of me, they were too busy doing. I was so happy at the scene, that I wanted to say so, but feared I would break the calm waters. So instead I just wrote it down, amongst my sewing pattern instruction notes:
~ Isabela flipping through the museum book of the Victoria & Albert fashion collection (sprawled on the floor) ~ Juliana cross-legged on the couch with her laptop ~ Joseph tracing a favorite cartoon character on the light table over by the window ~ Nicolas using my computer to build his Minecraft world ~ Eleni trying to catch a spider ~
Such a wonderful, welcome invasion.
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Anna Maria Horner lives with her husband, six children, one yellow lab and one very yellow canary on a not overly maintained two acres of happiness in Nashville, Tn. She designs, writes, and dreams in her home studio, where any of the above mentioned souls can be found distracting her with hugs, messes, questions, chirping, barking or complete silence, depending on who it is. You can read Anna Maria's full story and her blog, find her books, patterns, home goods, and more all at annamariahorner.com