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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Creating in the Middle of Things

By Rahti Gorfien

My son’s two sibling friends are challenging, high-spirited kids. Their mother is a saint; she’s my ace-in-the-hole, my last minute go-to buddy in the trenches of childcare; anytime, any day any place, she’ll take Harper with her and care for him as one of her own.

Well, tonight it’s payback time: it’s her 10-year wedding anniversary, so here we are, my husband and I, doing our best to make it through a much anticipated (by the children) and much dreaded (by us) Sleepover, fraught with “he started it’s and “that’s not fair”s and “I want that one”s and on and on and on. It’s 10:00PM. Never mind where your children are; do you remember why you had them? Thank G-d for pizza, ice-cream, popcorn and DVDs. Of course, then there’s the little matter of what to watch first. Turns picking are taken, coins are flipped, tears are shed, bribes are made. Finally, it’s Beddy-Bye-Bye-Time: pajamas, teeth brushed, faces and in some cases feet washed, (bathe them all? You’ve got to be kidding!) And yes, you have to try to go to the bathroom before you go to bed. As I write this, Richard is up at the Story-time bat, and unless it’s my imagination, things are starting to settle…

No, I spoke too soon. “I’m thirsty’ I hear a plaintive little voice declare. My son has somehow materialized at my bedside. ‘Rahti, I’m hot’ complains a littler one, right on his heels (the heat is blasting, which has really enhanced the evening.) Containing my annoyance, I tend to their needs, and once again am back at my laptop. It grows quiet. But I know better than to get too excited. It’s not over ‘til it’s over, not before the sun rises and the pancakes are eaten. My prayer, aside from their safe-keeping, is that the bunk-beds and sofa remain dry. My husband is not bearing up all that well, but he’s here, thank goodness.

I don’t remember my father being present at all during sleepovers. I’m sure he was around, but it felt like he’d left the country. Laughter erupts in the living room on the other side of the bedroom door. Fart-poop-name-calling silliness ensues. A tattle-tale runs into my room. I instruct him to threaten the others for me, and am reminded of a childhood friend’s father when I was growing up. Half-conscious, beached in his Easy-Boy chair, he’d rouse just enough to yell at the eldest of his 8 kids: “Joey, go over and kick your brother’s ass for me”. Now, back in the day, that was a hands-on dad. I’m taking a bit of poetic license here, of course. He’d do his own ass-kicking.

(I need to confess something here: I just plagiarized myself. That memory was lifted from a semi-autobiographical solo show I wrote and performed 10 years ago. Gives me pause to wonder whether I’ll ever be immortalized that way, by one of my son’s contemporaries. One of the kids sleeping over tonight, in fact, has quite a talent theatrically, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if I end up being less than flatteringly caricatured on some off-off Broadway stage someday. I certainly had moments worthy of that this evening.)

Inevitably, I am back at the children’s bedsides. Naturally, the ‘I miss my mommy’ stage has begun. But that’s a good thing: that place of vulnerability is a charitable moment, as it usually signals imminent sleep.

It’s funny: I’ve been fighting this month’s blog. I haven’t been seized by any specific theme or axe to grind, which makes it harder to write. A mentor-coach of mine, Dr. Eric Maisel, talks about ‘creating in the middle of things’. What an apropos subject on the cusp of the holidays! A recent seminar I co-led with him triggered the subject. And what better setting for Creating in the Middle of Things could there be than the chaos of a sleep-over? It’s exactly what I needed to write this blog. There is no perfect time. You have to create despite the circumstances. And what better circumstances could there be to demonstrate that, than a fidgety bunch of kids having a slumber party?

Incidentally, if you could use a little support with this, I'm about to launch a coaching group for freelance and artist parents who constantly contend with this very challenge, and there’s room for one more! To find out more about that visit Creative Calling Coaching. I do hope to see you there!

Rahti Gorfien, of Creative Calling Coaching, is a Life Coach and Park Slope mom, specializing in creative mothers with universal and yet unique challenges to succeed both personally as mothers and professionally as artists. She is also a regular contributor to Hip Slope Mama. Join her Yahoo Group for additional tips and essays.