What I learned about life from finger-painting - The Oily Story
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What I learned about life from finger-painting

What I learned about life from finger-painting with my three-year-old.

I’ll be the first parent to admit that I hate paint and I hate playdoh.

Yea, yea, I know they’re both developmentally wonderful but you know what isn’t developmentally wonderful? Mommy losing her *ahem* stuff over paint being splashed, spilled, and Playdoh crumpled into carpet. I’ve actually let it get dried up on purpose.

Painting never ever allowed me to relax and enjoy moments with my children. Ever. Just seeing art smocks tightens my chest. Yup, I’m that mom so when a friend suggested I finger-paint with my daughter to loosen up a bit I wasn’t buying it.

Through a parenting conversation I told her “I hate painting, like hate it!” she said “then you need to do it.”

The very next morning with absolutely no prompting from me, because honestly I had forgotten about the conversation with my friend, my daughter says “Mommy, paint?”

Well, if I didn’t have an open-mind about it before I had to now and off we went.

Opening the craft closet I found myself being so deliberate about it all. Got the smocks, cue heart event. Grab some construction paper, ugh is this really happening. Two cups of water to rinse our brushes. A bucket of 1,487 colours. Pour four of those colours on a plate. Breathe, it’ll be ok, I told myself.

Looking down at the green plate that carried our paints I remembered what she said. FINGER paint, not brush paint. I put the brush down and dipped my finger in yellow and placed it on the page circling like a sun. Nice.

Next we need a flower so I dipped my finger in the pink and created the flower then another finger in green. I was halfway through the stem when it hit me.

This feels so wrong.

This isn’t what my body wants to do. I want to smear and smush, feel paint squeeze through my fingers. I looked at it as I rubbed it between my thumb and forefinger, watched it separate into a slick fluid and bounce back to oneness again.

Stem was quickly replaced by sweeping colours, no uniformity, no conformity. It was mindfully reckless and I loved it. My daughter suddenly tested me with an offer of a brush – No baby, mommy is using her hands today.

I swirled, mixed colours, put my whole hands in it, and while that was happening the most amazing things came to me. I held my hands over the paper and wondered how rigid I am in my life? How fluid am I?

I’ve been an entrepreneur for a few years with some wonderful success and how much more success could I have enjoyed if I let go?

Perfectionism keeps us trapped in an expectation. When we have expectations we have put ourselves in a box.

How much better would it be to let go of the expectation of how well our children clean up after themselves? In the years to come the house will be silent and there will be no extra shoes to straighten in the mudroom.

Give yourself permission to let your laundry pile up. If you don’t feel like doing it, guess what? Don’t do it! Maybe there’s a high school kid who’s looking to earn some extra cash? Isn’t a few bucks worth the bliss you’ll feel sitting on the porch enjoying a book and a cup of tea?

Enjoying our life doesn’t mean abandoning our responsibilities. It’s balance.

Allowing ourselves to Be, to expand, create, and squeeze life through our fingers, offers us freedom we deny ourselves.

I sat back and watched my daughter in the moment. She wasn’t worried about what anyone thought. She could care less about mixing the colours. She was right there, uninhibited and completely and unapologetically herself.

What a lesson to learn… paint like you’re on white carpet, marvel at the imperfect creation that is all of it and all of you, and splash your talent all over the damn place because whether you’re planting your grass and painting a rainbow or you’re swirling your fingers into oblivion, you have to feel good about doing what you do first and the rest will follow.

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