4 posts categorized "Mommyhood"

April 25, 2012

Latchkey Resiliance

There are so many stories to share ... so many aha moments that I went through during my time at The Makerie that I kind of don't know where to start. Let me start by sharing about a really terrific night ... the second night of the retreat when the teachers had the chance to share through the teachers' forum.

Jenny Doh
To the left of me were Flora, Alessandra, and Liesl ...

The Makerie
To the right of me were Allison (shown in the first picture), Marisa, Aran, and Ali ... all amazing women who provided so many great insights about the artistic process, inspiration, and the pursuit of creative work.

The Makerie
The forum was structured in a way where depending on the question asked, a teacher could respond to it ... or not. Not everyone responded to every question but we all responded to at least one question.

When a participant asked the question about how best to balance and juggle a creative life, especially in light of the occasional guilt we may feel regarding how we fall short as parents to our children ... I found my hand popping up into the air to respond.

My response had much to do with my own childhood ...

I explained that when I was growing up in Bakersfield with my two older brothers, I had a key to the house that I wore on a chain around my neck. There's a term for who I was. I was a latchkey kid. After school, we used our respective keys to let ourselves into the empty house while our parents were working long, long hours running their fast food business.

We fixed our own snacks. We fixed our own dinners. We washed our own clothes, folded them, and put them away. We watched TV some. We did our homework some. We played outside some. When I think back, it's a wonder that we survived all the things that our current generation of parents fear ... we didn't burn the house down ... we didn't get abducted ... we didn't fail in school ... we didn't develop low self-esteem. When my folks got home late at night, they did check in with us but they were exhausted. But we had cohesion. We were a unit. And we knew we were all in it together, despite each of our shortcomings. Through each of these days, what I learned most was resiliance ... not because it was taught, but because it was lived. It's the thing that allowed me to figure things out and be strong without being coddled. Resiliance ... it's the best thing I ever learned because with it, I've been able to weather anything and everything that life has thrown at me.

Though we didn't turn out perfect, we all turned out ok. My mom didn't ever bring homebaked cookies into my classroom. My folks never went to my brothers' sports games. They didn't buy any of us Hooked on Phonics or other state-of-the-art tools to get us ahead academically.

So here we are. Today.
Even if we feel we aren't there 100 percent for our kids 7 days a week, I think it's important for we parents to cut ourselves some slack. There are instances where parents are fully engaged and give themselves 100 percent to their kids ... and their kids STILL end up making bad choices. And vice versa.

We parents ...
We do the best that we can.
And no matter how that "best" looks ... it's never perfect and we all fall short. Thank goodness. Because I think it's especially when we fall short that the universe intervenes by providing opportunities for our kids to problem-solve, figure things out, and be resiliant. 

Our kids ...
They do the best that they can.
And for the most part ... no matter what ... they're gonna be just fine.

September 28, 2011

So Proud

Just a few days ago, the house was winding down for the night ... I was finishing up my work, The Mister and my Andrew (the dudes) were already zonked out for the night, the pups all curled up and dozing off ... as my Monica was finishing up her homework and packing up her books into her bag for the next day. She came into my office to share a laugh and to say goodnight. And then she said, "I'm proud of you, mom."

God. Such words.

Jenny Doh
I've always known that reminding my kids that I'm proud of them is the ultimate, you know? When they were little tykes, even though they would jump up and down for things like balloons and ice cream cones, I knew that no balloon or cone could ever be as significant as either me or The Mister looking them in the eye and saying "I'm proud of you." They are the ultimate words that any kid of any age wants to hear from his or her parents. And every time I say it to them, I know it affects them deeply. There's a component to these words that also becomes a magical self-fulfilling prophesy. I say "I'm proud of you" and they use those words to fuel behaviors that make me proud of them.

But to hear those words spoken the other way ... from child to parent ... I can't explain it. It's as amazing as when you hear it from your parents. It's a validation that you are doing right by the most important people in your life. It's a reminder to keep priorities straight and relationships straight. They are words that both Monica and Andrew give to me occasionally ... and always unexpectedly as they observe and assess my behaviors. The ultimate gift.

My kids. They're proud of me. And like a bird, I fly.

Jenny Doh

April 03, 2011

Andrew's Village

Yesterday was Saturday. And I had my kids loaded up in my car to head out to our usual Saturday routine of meeting up with their academic tutor. Right as I was backing out, we saw the mail carrier bringing our mail. So I stopped the car and got the mail and brought it into the car. And there I saw it ... an envelope from Orange County High School of the Arts ... addressed to my son, Andrew.

Andrew MouetI had taken Andrew just last month for his audition for OCHSA's visual arts program as we stood in line with so many other moms and dads with their respective sons and daughters. I remember thinking to myself that though our outer portfolio wasn't so fancy and slick compared to some of the others, I knew in my heart of hearts that the content of his portfolio was genuine, authentic, and 100 percent Andrew.

We brought sketches but also photos of his clay work and wire work. Quite frankly, a body of work that I think demonstrates the teachability well-roundedness and enthusiasm that is undeniably Andrew.

Andrew Mouet
So I handed the letter to Andrew in the backseat. And as he opened it, both Monica and I reminded him that if it was a rejection letter he ought not be sad because it had been such a competitive process and that we would try again next year. He finally opened it and started reading ... and burst out with the most important word you want to read when you open a letter like that: "Congratulations!"

We hooted and hollered and gave each other high fives and quickly went back in the house to hoot and holler with Gerardo as well.

Jenny Doh
In the evening, we all went out to celebrate and raise a glass to honor Andrew. As we celebrated, we thought about all the other members of Andrew's village who helped support his application. His big sister Monica, our friend Cynthia who took photos of his dimensional art, his art teachers at The Art Place, his Saturday tutor, his current art and homeroom teachers at his current school, his current school buddies, and of course his parents: Gerardo and I.

Andrew is so proud and so excited. He is also sad about saying goodbye to his schoolmates with whom he has grown up for so many years. I'm sure there will be hugs and tears as we all cheer on Andrew as he embarks on his new adventure. Our boy with the pure heart. Our OCHSA student. Our artist.

January 01, 2011

The Essence of Benjamin Franklin

Check out this portrait drawing by my son, Andrew. Can you guess who it is?

Andrew Mouet
Yup. It's Benjamin Franklin. The portrait is part of a larger school project that he has been working on during winter break. I was so blown away by how well he captured Franklin's essence in this sketch. Yes, I am the mother of this artist child. :)

Andrew Mouet
Hope all students enjoy their last few days of winter break before returning to school.

Happy creating.

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