I’m going to my weekly pottery class tomorrow. I’ve been taking pottery for many years now, sometimes a little more seriously and sometimes a little more casually. This time it feels different, though. Kind of heartbreakingly different. Heartbreaking in a really good way. Like when something unexpected and beautiful happens that makes your heart crack open, just a little bit. This is a feeling that all mothers know.
Me and pottery go way back. At least 20 years or so. I took a long break when I got too busy with the kids, thinking it would be just a year or two. And, of course, the short break turned into many years, as these things do. I dabbled here and there, but didn’t really have the free time I needed. It was fine, life is like that, but I was really happy a few years ago when I decided to head back into the studio. And things like appetizer plates and bowls and odds and ends began showing up around the house again, and it really felt good.
Not that getting back into pottery was without its challenges. I don’t really have space to work at home, and many pieces have been broken while in various stages of completion around the house, mainly by a careless kid or a husband. Once an entire table of large platters was smashed when someone needed to move it to get at a computer cord. I got over it. I was just happy to be getting my hands dirty in the studio again.
Last fall, life got in the way again and I dropped my pottery class, feeling a little sorry for myself. I didn’t really say much about it at home, but it seems my girls noticed. For Christmas this year, they pooled their minimum-wage, babysitting, and allowance money and signed me up for another class. They arranged it all on their own. Quite the big surprise.
Now, I am really deeply sentimental and it doesn’t take much to move me, especially from those 2 girls. I am beyond sappy. I cry at all those videos everyone posts on Facebook. I even cried at a Budweiser commercial once. Who does that? So you can imagine how I felt when they gave me their gift. My youngest, who takes Christmas VERY SERIOUSLY, looked like she was about to burst when she handed me the envelope.
This is what I think of, every week when I walk into that studio. I know that money is not plentiful at that age. More importantly, empathy is not usually plentiful. It’s the nature of their teenaged brains, at least until they’re about 25 or so and the prefrontal cortex fires up. They take for granted that I’m the mother and it’s my job to do the caring and the nurturing and the giving, and it’s their job to take it all in and go out into the world and do their thing. Like every mother knows, it’s all about giving.
But the rewards can be plentiful. It’s the only reason we keep going down this crazy road. There are many, many times when the kids do something that makes your heart just burst open, and you know that this whole mothering thing is really the biggest thing that you have ever done.
It gets especially poignant when you watch them grow up, and become more independent, and you see that some of the things you have tried to pound into them over the years have actually landed. You see that they are wise, and kind, and generous-spirited. And in so many ways, much better than you. And, sometimes, they even surprise you beyond words.
So tomorrow, I am going to pack up my tools, and my latte and 2 tea chasers so I have some nice drinks for the morning, and head into the studio. And, like every week since I started, I’ll be thinking of my girls. My dinner plate project is not quite working out, and the glaze messed up on the last three serving bowls I made. Doesn’t matter. I’m really loving my Christmas present.