The gift inside the craft

Dear E,

I don't do as much crafting for you girls as I'd originally envisioned. I wanted to be the mom who makes every Halloween costume, celebrates every holiday with unique hand-made crafts. Instead, I'm obsessed with reading and taking long walks and I'm just not terribly good at sewing. Plus I'm morally opposed to ironing on a regular basis and sewing involves a vexing amount of ironing.

But your birthdays always bring out the wanna-be crafter in me.

Today you turn two and, true to form, last night I was up late finishing the bag and crown and banner I made for you.

I craft for the same reason I write- I want to remember, create, preserve. I want to leave behind a beautiful remnant of who we are, right now. I love the process of taking raw materials- words and thoughts, fabric and string - and making something with them.

I craft to tell you just how special you are to me, how worthy of my time and my attention. I want to create something that tells you who I think you are, who I see when I look at you. I try to stitch your tenacious, resilient, loving spirit into every seam.

Unfortunately, I also craft like I parent: half blind.

Clueless. But hopeful.

What I make is far from ideal. Every jagged seam is a lesson in acceptance of imperfection. Every time I embrace the mistakes - take a breath and rip out a seam, or gaze at an off stitch and leave it - I remember that this is life. Not perfect. Always changing. Full of possibility. Full of opportunities to try again.

The reverse is also true: I parent like I craft.

I start by reading books and blogs, coveting what I read and see and hear. I am filled with inspiration! And Capital L Love! I have a visionary plan!

Then I dive in with much preparation and gusto!

Things rarely turn out as I envisioned.

I drop stitches, pucker seams, sew uneven lines.

I try so hard, too hard. I want to cry.

I cry.

Sometimes I walk away. Sometimes I yell into a pillow.

I come back, try something else, stand back, see if it works. I think through the possibilities, consult with books and friends, try again and again.

And again.

It's still not perfect.

I let it be. I sit there and look and accept where it's going.

I realize that if I'm conscientious and open, careful and curious, it turns into something wonderful, all on it's own, with just the right amount of help.

I have to keep learning this same lesson over and over again. I try not to think of this as a failure. I try to think of it as a gift I give to us both: accepting the purse with it's uneven straps, and the scarf that's just a little wider than I'd intended and the crown with a rough edge, it's all about accepting myself, and accepting you, just as we are. Imperfect, surprising, different every day.

Happy Birthday E. I love you with every imperfect bone in my body.


Your Clueless But Hopeful Mama


Hillary said...

I cannot believe she's 2. Happy birthday, E!

Barb said...

Happy Birthday E!! CBHM: you inspire me to go home and start crafting!!

Michelle said...

Happy birthday, E! And I agree with Hillary ... I can't believe she is 2!

And what a crafty momma. I love the bag.

Gina said...

OK, that banner is awesome!

Happy birthday to you and E.

Fourteen Countess said...

My mom crafted a ton of stuff for me and my brother when we were growing up. As a child, I always thought my mom was amazing and that everything she made was perfect. When I admire those same items now, I can see the uneven seams, the dropped stitches, the "imperfections." And thank goodness! I'd be paralyzed from experimenting with my own crafts if I didn't have some kind of proof in front of me that her efforts were as human and at times, as flawed, as my own. Those little hand-crafted things mean the world to me now, and I know your daughters will feel the same way about the things you're making for them (which all look pretty fabulous, by the way -- and I'm totally stealing that crown idea when I've got a kid of my own :).

B said...

Happy Birthday, E!
You have mad crafting -and parenting- skillz. One of these days I'll dust off my sewing machine and attempt a project...

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Fourteen Countess: What an awesome gift your comment is. Thank you! I will reread it the next time I get discouraged by my imperfect crafting.

And I should give credit to the birthday crown inspiration: soulemama. http://soulemama.typepad.com/soulemama/2007/03/a_little_about_.html I used the template from her book: The Creative Family. So easy and fun!

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