This is one of those posts where blogging is therapy. One week before the Listen to Your Mother event, I kind of need it.
I have vivid memories of my fourth birthday. I went to a cooperative preschool, which in 1971 was a learning experiment. They gave me a crown on my birthday and my Mom brought the cupcakes to school like they do in any other preschool. I remember my teacher, Mrs. Shroader asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. At that age I loved playing with color, any colors, paints, crayons, colored pencils, chalk, clay. I told her proudly, I want to be a artist. As I grew up my depression era parents dissuaded me from my artistic pursuits, all of them. In my older elementary years my very crazy mother told me repeatedly that my sister was the creative one. My sister wound up working as a big wig banker for years, go figure. In all my years I wanted to sing. I sang with my small record player. I dreamed of having a microphone onstage. As I progressed into my teen years my parents dissuaded me from my dream of being a radio DJ. I sat up late into the night wishing I had the mike in my hand getting to play and learn about the latest music. All of my term papers were about music and rock and roll in some way. My father, before he died, confided in me and said that he was sorry he talked me out of all of my dreams
In 9th and 10th grade I sang in concert choir and I learned skills there that I used with my band. When I went to college I was studying to be a Phys Ed teacher because I was also very athletic. I was miserable. To make a long story short I totally rebelled and I wound up surrounding myself with some of the most creative people this planet has to offer. I remember when I was first falling into this community and I was so intimidated by all that these people did and explored day after day. My mothers voice in my head said over and over, you are not creative, you will never be a real part of this community.
Last night I arrived at work and an old customer said in his usual warm way, welcome to adult Thursdays. We talked about what I had been up to the last few weeks. He asked if I had written my piece for the Listen To Your Mother show. I told him I had and I told him the subject. This is a person who has known me for over eighteen years. He loved how I was trying to relate my time with the band to parenting. There was a woman who was sitting next to him. She said to me with awe in her voice, you sound like an incredibly creative person. I shrunk a little and proclaimed no, I was not creative. I am the anti-arts and crafts Mom. Present me with anything that needs to be sewn or fixed and I hand it to my husband who can handle things like this. I am not at all creative. I am so lame, I cannot create a proper baby book or Halloween costume for my kids.
A beer or two later the stranger customer pulled me aside and said, you intimidate me, I write like a kindergartener. I told her I was not particularly gifted but I write daily which helps me to make my writing product better. I told her I write because I enjoy it. When I was in the band I wrote sophomoric songs from a deep place of anger. Now I write because my kids deserve something from their childhood to piece together what they forget, so they can figure out where they are going.
A few hours after I talked to that customer, my favorite young customers came in. They all talked of supporting Listen to Your Mother Philly in some way. Some are coming to hear the stories that may be their future, others want to help find last minute sponsors. All of them want to support me and see me as a creative entity.
Maybe that customer is right, it’s time to see myself as a creative person. But what does that mean?