Out of the Mouths of Babes

Sherry Collier

I am a mom.
In my mind, this means that I am an artist, an innovator, a creator, a confidant, a friend, a comforter, a teacher – the list goes on. In my heart of hearts, I love to engage the flow of creativity which provides endless material for mothering my precious boys. There is nothing more delicious than creating an emotionally connected and vibrant atmosphere in which to rear children.
Mothering and creativity go hand in hand. When you travel with your children through their changing interests, hobbies, developmental tasks, phases, challenges, and successes, your creativity naturally bubbles forth even if you don’t consider yourself a creative type.

In addition to being a mom I am also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in Expressive Arts Therapy. This means I use all expressive art (poetry, art-making, drama, singing, dancing, nature-exploration, writing, – you name it) to help people heal, grow and become more authentic. What is wonderfully fun and amazing is that I get to use my unique training to help my mothering flow with love, emotional connectedness, fun and adventure.

One of my favorite memories is the day 5 or 6 years ago when I dragged out large poster boards, paints, glue and all manner of findings (found objects from nature, stickers, buttons, sparklies, jewels . . .) and told my boys to paint their poster-boards and then upon drying, glue whatever they wanted to the surface. The only other directions I gave them was to have fun and choose the colors, shapes, images and objects that interested them at the moment.

What joy, what bliss as I watched them and helped them explore the objects, find the right colors of paint and engage in the flow of creation and expression! They were young then, no more than 4 and 7 years old at that time. Now, my boys are 10 and 13 and I wistfully acknowledge that they no longer view these simple activities as top priority. I am constantly looking out for new ways to interact with their own unique creative efforts.

Currently it is the Lego creations, the drawings of architectural plans for a fortress, the writing in Japanese characters, and the building of video worlds on Mine Craft that allow me to look into the creative souls of my boys.. My heart swells with pride when I catch a stolen glimpse of my youngest boy teaching himself “running man” (a dance step) or my oldest son listening to his iPod while dancing his heart out when he thinks no one is watching. It brings back memories of my own creative, expressive journey through childhood, the tween years and then on to high school and college.

As a child, the darkness of our living room beckoned to me when my parents were away from the house and my sisters, who were “in charge” stayed in their rooms. I would turn on the lights only long enough to find the stash of classical music records that belonged to my father and put one of them on the record player. Then, I would turn off the lights and imagine myself to be the most beautiful and graceful ballerina – dancing from one end of the living room to the other while no one watched. My mind and my heart would soar and dip along with the music and I would allow my body to move in ways that expressed the emotions of the music.

I have other memories of my creativity bubbling forth as a child. The trees in my large Michigan back yard turned into wonderful forts and castles. The pond in the forest became a moat filled with alligators which had to be forged in order to get to the castle. The flowers (which I mercilessly picked) were arranged in blankets for dead birds that had fallen in the forest. Yes, there was no end to my imagination in those magical childhood years.

Now as a solopreneur who depends upon computers and technology, I sometimes find myself desperately in need of using my hands to create something real – something that can be touched, smelled, seen clearly (without pixels) and heard. When the left-brained and logic-based tasks become too much and too many, I turn everything off and create a sand-tray or draw with pastels. My boys are the first to see whatever I’ve created and for this, I am happy. They will see and internalize the important and life-giving activity of expressing and creating with all manner of materials.

As I have been writing this article, my mind is giving forth a multitude of memories and I could write pages and pages about my own childhood creations, expressions and adventures but I will wrap it up here for now – and I’ll leave you with two quotes:

“The soul should always stand ajar. Ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” – Emily Dickinson

“And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see — or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read.” – Alice Walker







Sherry Collier, LMFT, Expressive Arts Therapist and Business Strategist



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