mothers of invention: mary
first name: Mary
current city: Denver, CO (hometown Memphis, TN)
living situation: I live with my (soon to be) five year old son, Wally, and my boyfriend, Jeff.
occupation: As of now, I’m a mom and student. My photography degree is collecting dust. I hope that medical school is in my near future.
how do you structure your time and space? For the first years of marriage and motherhood, I found myself feeling guilty for wanting personal time and space; I thought the world would stop if I took 90 minutes of the day to enjoy myself in a yoga class.
Now that I have broken that bad habit, I never feel satisfied with what I choose to do in my free time. There are so many things to be done! Even if I spend half the day cleaning, I can think of a million things I could have done instead. The worst is when I am playing with Wally, and I feel like I should be doing something else. It’s really not fair for him or me. I haven’t quite figured out how to manage MY time. Taking in each moment and being thankful for each moment is what I am working on.
One of many things that I tried giving up for lent was bad thoughts. It’s really easy to let those thoughts in when I am having a bad day or am overly tired, but I have made a conscious effort to acknowledge those thoughts as just thoughts and let them pass. This helps me enjoy the moment that I am in. I’ve started trying to meditate for 30 minutes in the mornings and evenings. In the morning meditations, I allow my “What-Ifs” and “Shoulda Woulda Coulda’s”, to come in, just to give those thoughts a time and place in my stream of consciousness. The evening meditation is MUCH more difficult; I try very, very hard to let all thoughts go in one ear and out the other. If I don’t allow myself that time, I will spend hours in bed over-analyzing everything!
We recently moved to Denver, and Wally’s schedule was changed the most. In Durango, he was in a full day preschool program. Now, he is in a part time play-based pre-kindergarten program. I wish he were in a longer program, but I am always amazed at what he teaches me at the end of the day. I hope he will be going to an expeditionary style school next year, which uses the teachings of Outward Bound. (I think it is especially tailored to high energy boys.)
I feel best when I am elbow deep in some concoction I’m making in the kitchen. I spend most of my day in the kitchen. Cooking presents so many possibilities! I am working on perfecting mozzarella right now for our pizza nights, and I’m trying my hand at crackers.
I am seriously considering going to medical school. This notion has been a small voice within in me for years, and it has only gotten louder. It has taken me years to gain the self-confidence to own this medical school dream. I’m older, with a child, and I know I want more children in the future. Is it okay to sacrifice a few years of being the active kind of mother I am now? Whethor or not I could cut it in medical school is no longer the question. Now it’s about deciding what I really want for my future. Is it really possible to have it all?!
using the metaphor of seasons to describe the phases of women’s lives,
-what are the particular challenges and highlights of your current season? A challenge in this season is accepting that it takes time to regain structure after a change. In our recent move, I had hoped that all would fall into place and that things would calm down. I guess they have in some ways. I do have a much clearer idea of how I want to live out the rest of my life, what I want for my family, and how I want to spend my time.
-What season(s) preceded this one? Before my current season, I had seven years of hibernation and feeling lost. I built a cocoon around myself and let things happen without being fully engaged (marriage, giving birth, moving across the country, getting divorced, finally finishing school, finding my love, and moving again). I am just now realizing that I was probably dealing with depression while living my life at warp speed. I never felt like I had a grip on things. But, life has finally slowed down (or I am getting used to warp speed), and things are much clearer. I wouldn’t change how my life has panned out; I’ve learned a lot and still keep discovering parts of myself. Where I am currently in my life feels perfect! I feel like I finally have a handle on everything!
-What season(s) might your future hold? Full fledged spring: a time of growth, renewal, a new spring in my step, and shedding skins.
Favorite family activity/activities: Friday night is pizza-and-a-movie night. I make enough pizza dough for about 4 pizzas. Some nights, friends will come over, and other nights it’s just the family. I really love that we have made a family tradition into it and that it is an open invitation for our extended family to take part. Wednesdays are breakfast-for-dinner nights. I love those nights, also.
favorite solo activities: imagining, creating, reading, taking in the sunshine, gardening, and being quiet
sources of inspiration: My grandparents. My grandfather was a doctor, but never let go of his creative, artistic side. He currently has a wood workshop, and he had a metal workshop and a darkroom for many years. My grandmother has a painting studio. My grandfather loves digital photography and Photoshop, and neither of them has ever put down the paintbrush! My biggest issue with figuring out what I want to be when I grow up is finding that balance of left and right brain activities. My grandparents are the epitome of that balance.
Wally is also an inspiration to me. I would not be the person I am today with him.
Jeff keeps me grounded. I have an enormous amount of friends and family who offer 100% support to every, single idea that I have. Jeff offers that same support but he knows me well enough to know when one idea probably isn’t the best (law school, for example).
My mom was a pioneer makeshift mom. Some of her makeshifting may not have been the best ideas (see below). She never seemed to be worried about the latest trends in parenting.
best MakeShift moment: I’ll tell you my worst! When I was in kindergarten, my mother would send me to school with a bottle in my lunch box. My brother was bottle feeding, and I guess my mom didn’t have any drink containers for me. I would get made fun of by the sixth graders! I called my mom everyday saying I had a tummy ache. Lesson learned: Don’t send elementary-aged children to school with bottles!
If I am making dinner and Wally is bored, I’ll give him a bowl of water with food coloring and expired herbs, he’ll spend hours making potions and spells.
I do most of my school reading on the toilet, while Wally is in the bathtub. When he was younger, he never had a real crib (just a pack and play), or his own room, or a chest of drawers. He lived in the living room and his clothes were in a little nook on the bookshelf. We also didn’t have a chimney, so for Wally’s first Christmas, I drew and cut out a chimney and hung up stockings on the faux fireplace.
[if you know someone who would make a good “mothers of invention” feature, check out the nomination process detailed on the sidebar pages to the right.]