I have strong feelings concerning Mother’s Day. My mother thought it was the most important holiday of the year. Mom’s yearly gauge of validating her life’s work surrounding motherhood. I always bought her something nice, including a box of Fanny May milk chocolate butter creams or Marsh Bars chocked full of pecans. But nothing was as important as getting Mom the right Mother’s Day card. The card had to be perfect.
|This little piggy went to market…|
I like Mother’s Day, just not quite at the same level where Mom had it stashed. Does that make me somewhat lackadaisical about the joys of motherhood? I don’t think so and hope not. But as I age (slow down there little doggie) I find myself going to extremes about Mother’s Day-but not my own. Same thing goes about Christmas. I know not why.
I can’t remember trying to document these 2 holidays when my kids were very little. Making some kind of lasting memento to signify their age and size at that very second. But I find myself doing exactly that with the babies at daycare.
The past two Christmas’s I’ve taken on the same art project for the babies without really discussing it my coworkers. Any art project in the infant room should be made into a documentary. Or comedy. With a bit of tragedy spun in. It’s a hoot. The kind that makes you want to pull out your hair. Every hair. The thing is, babies aren’t generally very cooperative. Part of it is instinctual when doing anything concerning their hands. They tend to close their fist tight just as you need it open. They pull, push, tug, squeeze, squish, swat, smack, fling, spit, drool, while you’re valiantly trying to get them to just hold their tiny hand still for 3 seconds. That’s not 30 seconds which is a lifetime to them, merely 3. Usually cannot be done. Unless they are asleep. Which I’ve resorted to on several occasions. Sigh. I’m simply trying to get one of their handprint impressions on a slab of soft salt dough.
I won’t even start this yearly project until December 1st. Oh, I’m itching to get going on it by mid-November since we have between 12 and 16 babies in our room. (A few are part time and come on different days). But for some odd reason I have to be able to say, in my own odd way, this is your baby’s handprint this Christmas. Only time in his life his little hand will be this size. When I type it, it does seem crazy. What’s wrong with me?
This is what happened last Christmas. I started our project promptly in early December. Made a big batch of salt dough, brought parchment paper, a straw, rolling pin and some old cookie sheets. Started by writing all their names on a sheet of paper and checking them off as (or if) I got a decent impression of one of their hands. Took the straw and made a hole on top where the ribbon would go to hang the ornament. Wrote their name below each little hand until it was baked. Then I could spray a coat of white on the back, jot their name with a permanent marker, and rest assured parents would get the hand that belonged to their baby.
|Such precious toes…|
Even doing hand impressions takes a few days because some babies come on different days. I’d do as many as time allowed or stop in on my day off for an hour. That way there wasn’t as much guilt when one of them started crying. I just kept working on the task at hand. (Ha-ha, my lame impression of a hand joke). A few days into December I had all the little hands at home, baked, spray painted white, labeled and ready to morph into charming Santas. Some of the babies had been in our room most of the year and I worried when they were hung, if the tree would topple over from the weight. Others so tiny, they looked like it couldn’t be from a real hand.
|The babies helped with rhyming…|
While I was painting (and painting, what a lot of kanooey) I wrote a little poem about tiny hands to copy in their Christmas cards. I was completely done, everyone of them wrapped with a week to spare before they needed to be handed out. I’m kind of proud, they looked really cute. That same week a new exquisite baby girl started in our room. Every time I held her, walked past her or even looked at her, all I could think of was her tiny hand. THAT WAS NOT DOCUMENTED FOR MOM AND DAD ON HER FIRST CHRISTMAS. So much guilt for something so tiny. And I think that was part of the draw. Her hand. So little. Perfect in every way. There simply was not enough time to get it done before our short Christmas break. Or I didn’t make or take the time. But I did manage to get her hand impression. And it was still in the month of December. I brought it home, baked it, took it downstairs to spray paint it white. And there it sat. On top of our water heater. Four long months. More guilt. Just lay it on me baby.
|No one can create a mess quite like me, yeah it’s a gift…|
Suddenly Mother’s Day was sneaking up on me. I found a clever art project idea and found enough cheap canvases at a ridiculously low price. I love salt dough, but it’s very time consuming trying to get whatever little baby parts (feet or hands) when one is trying to wrestle with a 20 pound adorable, writhing, snake-baby. The idea is to get a couple prints of their baby toes somewhere in the region of the lower third part of the canvas. The first baby I glopped way too much paint on her foot, blurring one set of toes. Michelle suggested using a foam brush to apply the paint to her toes and part of the pad of her foot. Better, except it must tickle thus there’s some major wiggling, writhing and giggles. Some of the bigger tootsies find 2 spots on the canvas, tiny toes I can plop 3 sets on. At least I can jot their name on the back of the canvas as I do each foot. I lug them all home and devise a plan of exactly how much work I wanna put into this project.
|The idea from a mom on Facebook…|
The picture I’m using as a pattern has been done haphazardly. I think I can do better. I wonder where I get this confidence when I’m truthfully the least artsy-fartsy person on staff? In Michigan. Or the Midwest. But it’s my sheer will and determination to design a keepsake that makes me clumsily continue with the project. The idea is their toes will be flower buds, thus I must draw/paint the rest of the flower around their tiny toes. I envision wispy grass on the ground, soft clouds in the sky. Maybe a bird or 2, delightful lettering extolling how much they love their mommy. Oh please. The first couple stems are ramrod straight and resemble a straw. Now I put a slight curve in the stem, and grab a couple different bottles of green to add some shading, which is hilarious to even type because I know not how to shade. As I’m adding different shades of grass so I can let them all dry, I decide to add some leaves to the skinny flowers stems. Oh just stop. Now. All the while my heart is racing just thinking of writing, “Happy Mother’s Day” on each top. The first 2 are disastrous! My letters aren’t spaced well, there’s a definite slant and they look awful. Too late to start over. Apologies to those 2 mommies.
|So ashamed, pitiful. Sorry mommies…|
A small lightbulb goes off. Why not just embrace the sorry fact that a perfectly written “Happy Mother’s Day” is not going to become a reality here? So I practice writing (pretty darn close to the way I actually write) letters backwards, not on a straight line and using no capitals. It looks better than the ones I really tried my best on. Sold. John wasn’t, but it was my decision, and the rest (a dozen) were sloppily written with a paint pen, which is a great idea the Hubs suggested. As I’m clicking off canvas after canvas my mind jets downstairs to the petite salt dough ornament waiting for Santa to find his way to her little hand. Perfect timing, the kitchen is a freaking mess. Halloween clearance tablecloth for art projects, Mother’s Day canvases litter the counters, and one more darling little Santa magically appears…
|It is what it is…|