I try to be a good mother, I really do. I snuggle, cuddle, kiss and tickle. I read stories and have rockin’ tea parties. I color and draw pictures and do manicures and pedicures. After seven years of hitting and missing and cussing, I can also do hair reasonably well.
The thing is...well...the thing is that I’m pretty challenged when it comes to the domestic arts.
At first it was lack of interest. Food tasted good and I certainly appreciated it, but I wasn’t overly interested in how it got to the table. I was a klutz and ovens were hot and knives were sharp. It was also really cool that Mom could make me a Toto costume for the Wizard of Oz play or a Cat Woman outfit for Halloween, but that was where my interest trailed off. I am a klutz and needles are sharp, etcetera, etcetera.
After that, it was kind of a Women’s Lib thing. Just because I was a woman, I was expected to know how to cook and sew? Why not slap me barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen? Down with The Man, dude!
Then, the perfectionist in me held me back. The needlepoint I labored over had a mistake and I would get frustrated and put it down. The cookies crumbled all the hell over the place. The Christmas pillow that was supposed to be all smooth and plump ended up looking like some sort of mutant amoeba. No, if I couldn’t do it perfect, I didn’t have the time for it. I had plenty of other things to do.
Then I had the Baby Belles and that’s when the prides began to feel like deficiencies. The mommies could hem pants and sew costumes and bake nifty cookies. They did arts and crafts and all sorts of crap. I am still in total awe of the mom who makes her own Play-Doh. Sweet baby Jesus.
The best costume money can buy falls woefully short to the costume made with love.
I remember being at craft time with my kids during a vacation. I can’t remember what activity was occurring at the craft table, but I didn’t have the skills for whatever it was. In an attempt to do my part, I set up a set up a little side table where I did mani/pedis if any of the girls wanted them. I heard Baby Belle 1 as Scott, “Why can’t Mama do stuff like that?”
Ever the sweet pea, Scott answered, “Honey, that’s just not her thing, but she’s doing what she does! Look at the awesome nails!”
Bless his heart.
Well, I’m not going to deny the veritable Hindenburg of guilt that rained down on my head after overhearing the aforementioned remark. Still, the whole mother-wife-attorney-daughter-sister-writer-evil mastermind thing put the kibosh on attaining the Martha Stewart heights to which I aspired. (Actually, I don’t really mean that about Martha Stewart. The woman gives me the hives. Most cooking show/decorating show people give me the hives.) Of course, if I’m being honest, a lot of that stuff really just isn’t my cup of tea.
For the record, I actually decided that “even I” could move the buttons on Baby Belle 1’s school uniforms last year and, after stabbing myself so many times that I could barely type on the computer for the following week, every last one of those damn buttons came off over the years. Damn buttons.
...and then common ground presented itself...
When I first found out that I was pregnant with Baby Belle 1, I suddenly had this feeling that I needed to learn some sort of domestic craft right away. Accordingly, I ran to the bookstore and bought Knitting for Dummies.
I shit you not.
I read Knitting for Dummies and taught myself the rudimentary ropes of knitting. I was nowhere near sweaters and booties and bonnets and all of that, but I did get out a blanket and a dodgy looking scarf. I actually really enjoyed it. The knitting was hypnotic and it was so rewarding to have something to show for my work (totally not the case in the legal arena).
Well, as I’m sure you can imagine, Baby Belle 1 arrived and there wasn’t even time to shower much less knit. The knitting needles and the yarn got put away into the deepest recesses of the storage closet.
This summer, Baby Belle 1 learned how to finger weave from one of the camp counselors and she really got into it. She brought some of the yarn home one day and watching her clicked a light on in my head. I said, “You know what? I can knit.”
My child look at me as though I’d told her that Martians disguised as penguins and were taking over the entire planet. She said, “No way!”
Somewhat offended, but also understanding the source of her disbelief, I said, “Yes, way! I’ll even take you to the store to get the supplies and you can watch and learn, missy!”
Accordingly, Baby Belle 1 and I went traipsing across town on Friday night to the craft store (hives!) to get needles and yarn because I had no idea in the world where my old stuff was.
I attempted to refresh my recollection on Youtube. I couldn’t get a row started to save my life and it nearly drove me barking mad. My rheumatoid arthritis is pretty well controlled, but it sure was kicking up with the old needles and yarn. As my daughter watched me avidly while finger weaving miles of rainbow colored yarn, I endeavored to keep the sailor-like cussing in my head.
When my hands hurt, I got frustrated beyond the telling of it or I wanted to stab myself in the eye with one of the knitting needles, I put my project down and walked away for a break. If I was gone for more than ten minutes, my little task master in pig tails found me and handed me my yarn and needles. The poor baby was so excited that her mother might just be able to do something so...well...so motherly. “Get back to work, Mama. You can do it!”
So, by Sunday night, I was more or less making a mass of yarn knots that could loosely be construed as knitting. Baby Belle 1 was so excited and encouraging. “Mama, that is so beautiful! I’m so proud of you! I could actually wear that. Do you think you could make it a scarf? Hey Daddy, Mama’s knitting me a scarf and then she’s going to do a blanket. She can do one for you, too, if you want.”
I guess I’d better get to work...