It is early morning. I stole away from the nursing baby and am sitting in my little quiet corner of the world, on my back-deck, surrounded by potted plants and birdsong. I am writing and contemplating my messy life.
I am a homeschooling mother of seven children. My husband and I have a home business teaching music lessons. I am a writer and an artist. I teach women how to connect with the deeper meaning of their ordinary lives through my online journaling course. I oversee three meals plus tea and snacks for our family of nine every single day of my life.
In this house, at any given moment, there is a lot going on. The amount of creative mess that starts from the moment our first child wakes and ends when the last eye closes is probably world-record. Imagine seven children. Now imagine each one waking up and making something. We have piles of origami spilling off one couch, bits of thread and felt littered on the other, glue and scissors and paper scraps on the kitchen table, 10,000 duplos exploding onto the living room floor, the baby grabbing handfuls of crayons from the art table and throwing them as fast as he can in every direction, spilled pink water from the watercolor cup… I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that this can all happen before breakfast. Look around and you will see a pretty clear picture of what it means to live in a house where creative fires are burning.
We spend a lot of time making and cleaning up creative messes.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it.
But it is.
I know it.
I value a life where my children have the ability to wake up and make something. I like that there is a room of innovation in each of their minds, and that is where they like to go when they first see the light of a new day.
I am the same way.
That is why I am sitting here now, on my back deck, listening to birds sing, drinking a perfect cup of malty Assam, writing.
That is why my husband shuts himself up in the music room for weeks at a time to record songs, only coming out for meals. Creative fire.
I want to raise children who are thinkers, builders, artists, musicians, creators, writers, dreamers, problem-solvers, risk-takers, experiment-makers. I want to raise children who have the tools they need to approach a difficult question from that room of innovation in their minds.
How do I do this?
I let them wake up and make things. I put the tools in their hands. I give them libraries full of how-to books. I get them started when I can spark something. We set some whole days aside for nothing more than creative projects. I help them when I can. I direct them to someone else when I can’t. We share the responsibilities of caring for little ones when someone is knee-deep in creative waters. We help each other. We serve one another. We try to keep our house in order, but there are some days when we let it go so we can get more creative work done.
We are building a life around the glow of creative fire.
Information has never been cheaper. You can ask a robot anything and find the answer. But understanding the value of your one and only creative voice… Knowing that there are secrets inside you that cannot be found by typing a question in a search engine… I want these precious little people to know this truth intimately.
I don’t want my children to be simply entertained through life. I want them to show up for the purposes for which God has created them. I want them to do the things that only they can do. I want them to have the living conversations that can only come from their hearts and mouths. I want them to build the structures that can only come forth from their minds and hands. I want them to create those songs and paintings and drawings and phrases that put substance to the impressions that others feel but cannot themselves articulate. I believe in these little people. I learn from them. I see my greatest role as a mother and home-educator as this: Assuring my children that they were born for a unique purpose, praying and watching and listening as that purpose is revealed, and giving them the tools to become the people they are meant to be.
I see my children coming to life when they are allowed the time and space to tend to their creative fires.
That is why we continue to wake up, making.