This essay originally appeared in our monthly newsletter for The Mom Hour podcast. To get our emails, subscribe here. –Sarah
Violet, age six-and-a-half, is a starter. She likes to start things. She has a boundless inborn passion for launching projects. If there is a quiet moment or a lull in activity, Violet’s creative wheels start turning, going from zero to LET’S HAVE A TALENT SHOW in under fourteen seconds.
This weekend, a very average September one in our house, saw the following ideas hatched and (in most cases) executed:
- A “Pet Brunch” at a restaurant she created, complete with menus, food-service, and table-side entertainment
- A bedroom redesign, easily the fourth one of 2019
- A full-service spa with foot soak, pedicure, hair treatments, styling advice, and massage
- A spontaneous house-wide search for, and collection of, Bitty Baby accessories she wants to send to her toddler cousin as soon as humanly possible
- Honorable mention: multiple outfit changes initiated, mealtime menu contributions requested, and original pieces of artwork begun
Violet’s mother, age thirty-nine-and-seven-twelfths, is a finisher. She likes to complete things. She has a natural talent for putting things in just the right order. She has an increasingly shrinking upper limit to the number of open browser windows on her computer screen–let alone the number of make-believe pop-up shops in her house–that she can tolerate at any given moment in time.
That’s me, by the way. I am Violet’s mother. I’m the one who likes to finish and finesse, prune back and perfect, edit and edify.
Violet’s many (many) startup ventures capture the very essence of childhood creativity. They also involve an absurd number of towels, blankets, tablecloths, bowls, spray bottles, laundry baskets, step-stools, folding chairs, batteries, Scotch tape, dog leashes, newspaper clippings, drops of food dye, old shoelaces, Easter baskets, and kitchen twine.
The challenge for a starter like Violet is, of course, that it’s way more fun to begin something new than it is to stick out what you’ve already started. The number of “Yes, you may make a blanket fort, but first you have to finish the bake sale” moments that result in tears in our house on any given day is too many to count. And almost always my insistence on cleaning up is met with utter shock, as if she can’t BELIEVE I’d suggest something as boring as cleaning up when there are blank pages to fill for a new book idea.
September is a month of starts for many of us–new school routines, fresh creative inspiration, first days of activities tied to the academic year. And, on the flip side, it’s also a month where we look at our planners and realize how close we are to finishing out a calendar year that seems like it started just yesterday. New starts (exciting! but messy!), finishing up (boring! but ultimately satisfying!). It’s all the tension of a day spent with me and Violet, wrapped up into a single, promise-filled month.
If you’re the finishing type like I am, September might be a time to look at the first two-thirds of 2019 and see what needs finishing, polishing, or editing. If you’re a starter like Violet, you’re probably fired up about new ideas for Q4 and planning your Halloween costume already. Hopefully, though, you’ve got someone in your life who leans in the direct opposite direction that you do, providing that wonderful natural tension between starting and finishing, messy and clean, spontaneous and composed.
I do, and she gave me an awesome pedicure at her spa yesterday (after brunch at the pet cafe, and before the room redesign). And we’re still cleaning up.
Happy September, friends. Cheers to both new starts and clean finishes!