I’ll be the first to admit that craftiness doesn’t come easily to me. I blame my sixth-grade social studies project. We had to make a likeness of a famous person from history, using only a styrofoam ball, a soda bottle, markers and some yarn. I chose Jackie Kennedy and I’ll never forget staying up until one in the morning with my mama, hot gluing the styrofoam “head” to the bottle top, drawing on some winged liner and desperately trying to make the yarn look like a pillbox hat. By the end of it all, we were deliriously exhausted from the effort and I haven’t used a hot glue gun since.
So when my daughter came home from preschool last week with her first little homework assignment, I just stared at the instructions for a little while. For craftier mamas, this would have been a pinch. Making a little mini ark out of a few popsicle sticks and construction paper shouldn’t have sent me reeling, but I found myself sighing just a little too loudly as we drove out of the parking lot.
You see, we don’t keep many craft supplies at the house. We have a bin full of coloring books and crayons and the occasional watercolor paint set, but even that last part gives me anxiety so I reserve it for sunny days when we can be creative outdoors.
I have one friend, on the other hand, who could craft all day and never blink an eye. Her home is a glorious playspace for her son, filled with special handmade touches in every room. From the photo collages lining the hallway walls to the DIY craft paper mobile hanging above his crib, complete with star and moon cutouts, she’s done it all with love. She’s the type of friend who weaves you a little foot rug from your grandma’s old baby blankets when you’re expecting a new baby and shows up at your doorstep with a vase full of paper flowers adorned with buttons when she knows you’re having a hard day.
As much as I’d love to emulate her, it’s just not in me and I’ve come to understand that’s perfectly okay. We all parent a little differently and as long we’re loving in the best way that we know how our families will be just fine. Maybe I’ve never made a scrapbook, but I’ve played country songs in my kitchen and danced with my babies for an hour.
I’ve purchased 200 glow sticks online and put them in their bath as a surprise one evening. I’ve planted flowers with them and pushed them on the swing all afternoon and I like to think that even though their memories aren’t coated in glitter, they’re shining nonetheless.
Still, this assignment lurked and I’d do literally anything for my babies, so we made a day of it and hit up the hobby store together the next day. She picked out tiny wooden dowels over popsicle sticks to make the ark stand out and we chose royal blue construction paper to mimic the sea. When we got home, we assembled it all together and I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so proud. Truth be told, I was also pretty pleased with the way that bad boy turned out.
More so, I was pleased that we’d made that special memory together and it got me thinking that maybe I should give crafting another try. I can’t promise that I’ll be immersing myself in paper mache and rubber cement any time soon, but I will be saying “yes” more often when the opportunity arises to explore and create with my children.
The effects of that middle school project lasted about 20 years, but it only took one look at my terribly sticky, beautifully happy child, knee-deep in paper shreds and Crayola, to turn it around.