For the record I’m not really a fan of crafting. We got a few arty-crafty sets for the threenager’s birthday and each time she pulls one out from the cupboard (I really need to get better at hiding stuff) I wince at the thought of spending the next half an hour trying and failing to reproduce random stuff out of lolly sticks and tissue paper as per the picture on the box. It’s not that I’m lazy (I am a bit), it’s just the thought of the mess and inevitable disagreements over keeping the glue off the carpet seem like too much hassle most of the time. I also find myself being a bit of a control freak about doing things properly and nagging her to put lids back on pens (imagine Monica from ‘Friends’ but without the tidy apartment).
It was during one such session the other day, involving the construction of a scene from ‘Frozen’ using stick on jewels and shiny paper (yes, it was as shit as it sounds) that I had an epiphany: it actually doesn’t matter how the thing looks when we’re finished, or whether we’ve correctly placed every last sequin in its designated spot – and in a weird way that made me feel better. So there I was; liberated from the misery of copying-what’s-on-the-box-crafting and instead embracing ‘free-style crafting’ (I may patent that). But I’m afraid there might be more to my crafting aversion than giving a shit what the end product looks like.
What is it then about crafting that really puts me off? The real answer is, I think its going to be boring. There, I admitted it. Since becoming a stay-at-home-mum I’ve discovered that life is more and more about the simple things: day to day challenges are less complex than my former working life and more importantly less intellectually demanding. Its a stick I beat myself with more and more lately, being with my own kid shouldn’t be boring, but I’m afraid crafting just is. I chose to take a career break and be a stay-at-home mum, and don’t get me wrong life is much easier than it was during the first year, but its a tough transition to make and even now when I don’t feel like I’m enjoying my ‘new role’ I end up concluding “I’m just not built to be a mother”. Which is being pretty unfair on myself.
I reckon it comes down to expectations too – of myself more than anything I suppose. I am someone who cares what others think, and I have been known to dwell way too much on past conversations, looking for what the person really meant (trust me, its exhausting), and I wonder if the whole self-conscious thing has crept in here. On its own it seems trivial to think about what other mums achieve during ‘crafting hour’ (thanks Pinterest), assuming anyone else even bothers. But it feels like one of those things that ‘good mums’ would do, along with baking and trips to the museum. Don’t get me wrong I’ve done those things but I wouldn’t say I’ve always had a blast doing them. A friend of mine is on a WhatsApp group with other NCT mums and the competitive ones are always announcing whatever leaps in development their little angels have made, along with photos of reward charts filled up with gold stars, as if it’s a race to achieve milestones like potty training before anyone else. It makes me wonder why they feel the need to only share the good bits and not have a giggle about the inevitable screw-ups along the way. Maybe we’re all just nervously watching each other hoping we’re doing ‘mothering’ right.