To Keep..or Not to Keep. That is the Question.

If I'm being honest, I'm one art project shy of being on Hoarders.

The other day, I was busy zooming around the kitchen trying to prepare a rushed dinner before everyone was off to their different sports practices.  I had given my littlest one a small project to do in order to keep him occupied long enough that I could complete my already -difficult task.  He sat at the table, eyebrows tightly knit, tongue slightly out of his mouth, tiny fingers pinching the crayon just like his preschool teacher taught him.  He was serious - so serious - as he drew a few stick figures as colorful and as neat as possible for a four year old.  By the time I was done with dinner, he was just finishing up as well, when suddenly he threw down his last crayon and almost fell out of his seat in order to rush to my side to show me his masterpiece.

"I DREW OUR FAMILY!! " He shouted with so much enthusiasm and pride.

Sure enough - there were 5 stick figures.  Each one of them a different size and color with big awkward round circles for eyes.  He narrated over my shoulder and explained who was who and why.  I couldn't help but giggle when he said, "and that's you mommy - I drew you in black because you have black hair, black under your eyes, and you love to wear the color black." I can't really argue with that.  Sadly, however, I was a bit alarmed that he drew my arms sticking out of my ears, and my legs (the only portrait I own that shows me with long, skinny ones where there is actually light in between my thighs) starting just under my chin. The one really great thing about my part of the drawing was my big red smile.  Whew.  When he thinks of me, he pictures me happy.  Score one for mom and her large red happy lips.  My husband's legs took up half of the paper and he towered over all of us as if he is on stilts.  He has a very very small head - much smaller than mine, and his arms remind me of the dinosaur in Meet the Robinsons.  Clearly, he got the lack of Art skills from me - yet another thing I did not have to graciously pass down to my children. I giggled under my breath.  It was just too funny not to.

I don't know why,  through the rush and panic of trying to get dinner ready and on the table in time for everyone, that I was actually graced with the ability to take the time to notice how he drew that photo with care and thought, or the look on his face as he planned out the sizes and colors of each family member, or when  he was done, the bursting joy he felt en-route to showing me his masterpiece, but luckily, today was a day that I recognized the beauty of it all.  Something so seemingly simple like a drawing - a task given to merely keep him out of my hair while I get my task done - that, if taken a minute time out - I could see and understand the joy he felt - and in turn made me feel.

"Mommy, I drew you with red eyes because sometimes your eyes are red and crackle-y"  Ummm that would be because I haven't slept in 13 years thankyouverymuch.

That night, as everyone left with my husband for practice, I went over to my big drawer of school projects.  You know that drawer - or place - or pile - or spot in the closet where all of your kids' art and crafty stuff go because you don't really have the heart to throw them away  - but your fridge space is already occupied and you don't know where else to put it?  Yes - that drawer.  I had 3 years of pre-school stuff in there and a few odds and ends from my 13 year old as well.  As I sorted through them, I tried to imagine their faces, filled with expressions from serious to excited as they made them with pride and concentrated so hard to make something I'd be thrilled to get.  Did I give them the reaction worthy of their efforts when I picked them up? Or was I too stressed that day to feign the joy they were hoping for?  What would've made me squeal with delight over an art project?  I tried to think of my responses to them and gave myself the benefit of the doubt that I gave them enough of a reaction to placate them for another day.  Too often I've tossed those art pieces aside on the front seat of my car, with a mini-eye-roll thinking more clutter.  I mean, the day my youngest brought home a clump of what looked like Playdoh topped with a chess piece and a feather, sprinkled in sequins - I thought, really? What the hell am I going to do with this thing?  And yet I specifically remember that was one of the projects he was most thrilled about giving me.  How about the 1/2 dozen violets I've gotten for Mother's Day?  I still have two of them because I feel too guilty to throw them away.  They are dried up nothings now with a pot covered in pink metallic foil with faint markings that say Happy Mother's Day from different years.  Don't these teachers  (God bless them!) know that my job is to keep my children alive and thriving-  not plants?  I mean, how does anyone keep these little plants alive for years? Some of my Overachiever friends line them up on the window sill and display them with pride, while I don't even try to cover up the fact that mine have shriveled up and died.  I can't help it - if they don't have a voice to remind me to feed and water them, chances are, their days in my kitchen are numbered.  Once again, I can only hope that my reaction to them giving me this tiny violet was enough to make me worth as a Mother.  I think I did ok.  I think I kept my oh no, not another violet worries to myself. 

Anyhow- my point is, what seems like a silly little drawing or art project to us, took time and effort for them to make.  (Ok, we all know that sometimes, when they are in a mood, they rush through a project and scribble and barely put any effort in, so there are exceptions to this, as with anything!)  As the years go by, the projects will vary in shape and size, in effort and skill, but the thought, whether it was put there by a teacher or by our kids, is there, and the intent is good.

So as you're doing your Spring Cleaning (*cough, cough, chuckle, giggle*) and come across these artsy fartsy projects, keep in mind that your little one had you in their little thought bubble above their little noggins and find a place for it - for they have a place for us in their hearts forever.

Cheers and Love,


  1. When my oldest was in preschool, I got a gigantic accordion folder to put his school art into, separated by month. At the end of the year, we went through it, picked our favorites to save, and sent anything else he was proud of to all of his relatives on the other side of the country.

    Now that I have two kids bringing home artistic treasures, some of it is hidden in the trash immediately, and some is crammed in the accordion folder, to maybe or maybe not be sorted and mailed at the end of the year.

    Thanks for the reminder that these pieces, while plentiful, are the living history of our children's imaginations. Also, I'm jealous of your long, model-thin legs.

  2. There are two walls in our house that feature artwork done by our two kids (13 and 15). A black edged frame makes anything look fancy!

  3. "I'm jealous of your long, model-thin legs." ME, TOO!!

  4. Ah, the number of times I've looked down to discover my arms were growing out of my ears ;P.

    Cute pictures!

  5. I save the "most important" pieces. :)

    I take a photo of the others and upload them to my computer and, at some point, their art projects will be memorialized in some sort of digital scrapbook format (Note to self: Catch up on digital photo management) Then, I get rid of the originals. Most things end up recycled. Some of them, I do intent to frame and hang in our home. Really. It's gonna happen.


  6. My 13 year old just brought home a painting he had done in art class. (He feels quite inept in that field--surely because he inherited those skills from me. It's sad, really, because the Hubbinator actually has talent. sigh.) He was really proud and beaming. I realized when he suggested that we hang it on the refrigerator--a 13 year old wanting to hang his school work on the fridge!!!--that I had not shown enough enthusiasm for what is, honestly, a very cool piece that he created. I'm taking it with me today as I run errands and buying a frame so that I can hang it up. Maybe that will make up for the lack of appropriate excitement. Chalk another one up to "coulda been a better parent that day."

  7. I know exactly what you are feeling my love. How do we choose what stays and what goes? What makes the fridge and what sits in a pile on the desk? Thank you for reminding me that it is the thought that they put into it that matters, not where I put it. To know that they are always thinking of us...THAT is what gives us that smile. Love you, love this. xo

  8. I am right there with you. I have a wall behind the door in my kitchen painted with magnetic paint and I have things up from 4 years ago. As they get older, the art projects start to dwindle and I find it unbearable to clear the wall. It's hard to believe that the constant turnover comes to an end.
    On a violet note, I have one in my kitchen from my wedding day (We had them incorporated into the centerpieces because we were both born in February and violets is the flower for it). We have been married for nearly twenty years. :) Ellen

  9. I don't have kids but if and when i do i will definitely incorporate your accordion folder ideas. Thanks. And who doesn't like violets? -rissa <3

  10. Your awesome! I love your articles. Just stumbled onto your Facebook page and couldn't stop. Lol keep up the good work and stay blessed. Ps. Who doesn't like violets? <3


Support random acts of kindness and leave me a nice totally counts as a good deed.