Grocery Bags and Construction Paper

When Caleb was seven months old, I didn’t take him to the pumpkin patch to snap some Halloween pictures.  At the time, I didn’t realize that I had violated some law for what mothers are supposed to do with their children, but I was informed of that fact after Halloween had come and gone without a cute pumpkin picture of my son.  Nowhere in my house is there a separate section for arts and crafts supplies complete with a stash of those googly eyes and various buttons necessary to create animals and insects for any occasion.  And my daughters will never have matching frilly hair bows with darling pillowcase dresses unless someone gives them such a present.

When it comes to creativity, arts and crafts, anticipating projects for the upcoming holiday season, or anything along those lines, I have failed.  It’s not so much that I’m against projects; it’s simply that my mind would never even think to do some of the artsy projects other parents undertake. And I had started to get a little insecure about my inability to ‘create’ with my children.

The other day I was at the store when I noticed a huge display of plastic pumpkin pails intended for children to store their Halloween candy.  I grabbed three remembering how I didn’t remember the last two years when the kids had to throw their candy from the Fall Festival in the bottom of our stroller.  Suddenly, out of the blue, my mind had an ingenious idea–we’ll make our own bags!  Okay, I’ll be honest; I didn’t get this idea in a quest for creativity.  I simply didn’t want to spend money on three pails and then find a place to keep those bulky pumpkins after Halloween was over.

That afternoon, I set out two little grocery bags for Caleb and Hannah Grace, and I drew a pumpkin for each of them on a piece of orange construction paper.  They were so excited and focused as they sat at the kitchen table ready to begin their project. The kids colored and cut and then glued their pumpkins on the bags, and as I watched and helped them work, I felt a little ashamed.  Maybe if my mind worked this way, if I thought about crafts to do ahead of time, I could give them something better.  I pushed away the thought as we put the finishing touches on the bags.

While I picked up scraps of paper from the floor, the kids admired their work until Caleb suddenly spoke:

“Thank you, Mommy,” he said.

On his own, without any encouragement from me, he offered his thanks.  And I knew from the sound of his voice that he wasn’t merely thanking me for the bag–he was thanking me for thirty minutes we spent together creating–creating pumpkin bags and a memory that will last longer.

Caleb then made his way across the kitchen to where I was crouched on the floor and put his arms around me.  “I love you,” he gently spoke, and my heart melted. Any insecurities I was feeling were immediately washed away.

Caleb didn’t care that our craft didn’t involve fabric and a hot glue gun–he doesn’t want any of those frills–he just wants me.

I had to write about this moment because I know how easily I will forget; I will forget that my children don’t need paper mache and glitter.  They need something more precious–me, my attention–and they will take all they can get of it, even if my attention comes bearing paper grocery bags.

For what can you be thankful on this ‘Focus On It Friday’?

21 thoughts on “Grocery Bags and Construction Paper

  1. i waited all day to see what you would write and THIS is precious. I hope you will be able to save their bags until they grow up . Great post, Jen.


  2. So awesome. Really it doesn't take much. I have a stack of construction paper, a couple of glue sticks and scisors. I like to do things like that as much as possible….so sweet.


  3. Jennifer, your post literally brought tears to my eyes. I can be crafty, if I try, but I just hate the MESS. Sad but true. As I type this, my butter is thawing to room temperature so that my kids and I can make some sugar cookies and decorate them for Halloween. Today I am thankful for your post, as it has made me realize that my kids just want ME, just ME. Thanks!!
    Happy Halloween!


    1. I bet your kids had a wonderful time making cookies–I know mine love to cook and stick their fingers in everything. 😉 I think more than the mess, I get overwhelmed by the chaos factor. When my kids were 3, 2, and a baby, I felt like I couldn't keep up. If the two oldest and I didn't have the craft finished before the baby woke up from a nap, I risked having my walls painted new colors if I went upstairs to get her! It's a little easier now that they are a year older, but I still get overwhelmed at times. I need to do a better job of planning crafts ahead of time, too. Sometimes I think of something at the last minute, and I don't have the supplies I need.Happy Halloween to you, too! I'm glad the post gave you a different perspective and hope it helps!


  4. It's funny to read about something that a mom just doesn't think about. I think we all have things as parents that just don't occur to us. You know, you're not against arts and crafts, but it just doesn't occur to you.

    At my high school graduation, all these girls were getting flowers from their parents. I jokingly said to my mom, Where's my flower?? It never occurred to her. I remember looking at my friend's newspaper excerpt of her birth announcement from 25+ years ago. Hey, mom, did you put a birth announcement in the paper when I was born? Uhhh…no, it never occurred to me.

    I wonder what's not occurring to me and will I find out about it when my kids are grown…Hey mom, how come you never did this??

    But ultimately you're right, our kids just want our time! They want us!!


    1. Sunny, I love your examples! And now a new cloud of guilt has visited me–I did the birth announcements for my first two kids–never immediately after they were born (we moved states right after Caleb was born, and after Hannah Grace was born I had complications)–but they got done. Poor Chloe doesn't have one. I had complications after she was born, too, and when I finally remembered, Matt said, “Oh, I already did one for her.” Unfortunately, we weren't getting the paper at that time, so I hadn't asked anyone to get it for me b/c I didn't know he had done one. Now I just haven't remembered to call the paper and see if they have it in the archives. So…sometimes things occur to me but never at a convenient time! 🙂


  5. I too, am not a "cutesy" mom. I think I've been too tired the last two years to focus on anything involving more than feeding, dressing, diapering and sleeping (that last one is for me AND the kids!).

    I wish I was more craft minded. I always think my daughter is too little for these things, and then I see other parents and wonder if I'm just trying to avoid a big mess instead. I agree with Sunny, my kids will probably ask about why they didn't have birth announcements, or handprint Thanksgiving turkeys, and I'll have to 'fess up… I love the bags you made though! I might just be inspired to start trying.

    This Friday, I am thankful that I got two nights this week with EIGHT hours of sleep (bliss!) and that my daughter, who is trying out her toddler bed for the first time tonight, is quietly staying in bed and reading a book while mommy is on the computer. Here's hoping it lasts…


    1. But your kids ARE young–you have plenty of time to create handprint Thanksgiving turkeys when your kids might even remember! You guys are killing me with the birth announcements, though. See my reply to Sunny.That is awesome that you got two full nights of sleep! And I am so jealous and happy for you at the same time–the toddler bed was a nightmare with our first two. They both were crawling out of their cribs at 17mos, so we had to switch them to the bed. It didn't work very well which is why this year is my first year in almost five where I can say that I can get eight hours sleep! Congrats, and I hope you have more successful nights!


  6. We are soul sisters.

    My kids "craft" drawer is full of old notepads or little spiral notebooks their daddy brings home from lunch with vendors. You think I'm kidding, I'm not.

    On a more serious note, I've just had no choice then to embrace who I am as mom to my precious kiddos. Every woman is different b/c she herself is different and was raised, different.

    Motherhood can be difficult without checking out what other mom's are or are not doing, then comparing yourself. I really do wish more mom's could see how happy their little peeps are, catch her breath…and rest.


  7. Thanks for your comment, Lisa. We really should meet sometime! I, agree, and love the word you used–rest. God sent His son so that we could find rest, yet we find all the reasons in the world to not embrace it. You gave me a goal for the week.


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  9. I used to be recommended this blog by my cousin. I am now not sure whether or not this post is written by means of him as nobody else understand such distinctive approximately my problem. You’re wonderful! Thank you!


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