Recently, one of my friends offered to watch my baby while Little Man is at playgroup. That meant I would be child-free for TWO HOURS. I was wondering aloud what I should do with this precious, precious time, mulling over my options: doing laundry; rinsing out the dirty (cloth) diapers; organizing the table o’ junk; you get the idea. These were all overheard and vetoed by my husband.
“Don’t do chores!” he insisted. “Do something fun, like go to the art museum.”
Did I mention that I’m so glad I married him?
I took his advice, and Tuesday morning I moseyed on over to the Cleveland Museum of Art. It was a little surreal. Going to art museums was something I used to do when I was single, pre-kids. You know, bring a satchel, wear something artsy, and spend hours contemplating art, life, the universe, and whatever else was on my mind.
These days, most things on my mind revolve around trying to feed, clothe or bathe my children, as well as trying to catch up on the many, many tasks which don’t get accomplished (probably because I’m blogging or something…). As I approached the museum the combination of past and current life activities led to a surge of nostalgia and excitement.
Since I am completely unfamiliar with the layout of the exhibits, I just headed into the first gallery I came to. That turned out to be contemporary art, which I happen to really enjoy. The first pieces I saw were clean, crisp studies on squares. So, I’m looking at a canvas which has one blue square in the center. That’s it. Blue square. Centered. It was so… relaxing. In my wonderful world of crusty cereal on the back of chairs, little finger marks on my walls and crumbs everywhere (don’t think about Pesach don’t think about Pesach), this simple painting was clean and crisp and wonderfully refreshing.
I wandered into room after room, enjoying works by Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner (that was his wife, fyi), Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, Alexander Calder, among many others. While some (including my husband) joke that they could paint a picture of a blurry square and call it art, I take pleasure in studying the lines, pondering the choice of color, and relishing the simplicity and frankness of the works. Without the duties of motherhood calling me, I was able to sidle up to the art and really get into it, you know, so close that you can see where the paint is thicker in certain areas, where the brush strokes are tangible.
There was a mother there with three girls under the age of six. She was doing an amazing job asking them questions like “What colors do you see here?” “What shape does this look like?” “What do you think this is made of?” Her educational approach was peppered with urgent warnings not to touch the art, as the girls were still young and uninhibited. As she wandered in my direction, I took a minute to congratulate her on engaging her girls in an artistic way. She said, clearly relieved by my friendly demeanor, that she would much rather choose the art museum over another bouncy house activity, as she felt her brain would turn to mush without some stimulation. I told her that I completely understood! It was a moment of mommy solidarity.
I saw a few other mothers with young children in strollers, and I was encouraged that the art museum wasn’t a place that was off-limits to the mommy me, even with my boys in tow.
After one glorious hour perusing the art, it was time to return to my life. The laundry was still waiting, the diapers still dirty, the table o’ junk still piled high, but I felt much lighter and energized. Something that I think many of us forget in our busy, hectic lives, is that it is absolutely crucial to take some time for ourselves. Some may choose to exercise, some to curl up with a good book, some to get coffee with friends, but we all need to nurture our spirit in order to continue to be great friends, wives, mommies and women.
What are some ways you spend your me-time?
Also, this is the last week for JDeal’s Battle of the Bloggers. I’d love it if you would “like” their Facebook page, then go to the Notes section and “like” my comment – I’m the third one down. That would be amazing! Tell your friends! Tell the world!