When I left my job and became a full-time mom a little over a year ago, I had a specific vision of the mom I was going to be: I would grow my own vegetables, feed my family nothing but organic food and craft and DIY everything — I’d be the one who could make anything with pipe cleaners and a hot glue gun and would send my child to preschool with homemade snacks in the shape of bunny rabbits. Reality: nope, nope, nope. I’ve made my peace with not growing my own veggies. I knew I didn’t have a green thumb, and I live in California where we’re having a severe drought, so it would be irresponsible to have a garden. And I feed my family organic food where we can and where we think it’s a priority. But it’s been difficult to come to terms with the fact that we Howes are not crafty. At all.
We’ve tried to be crafty. Oh, how we’ve tried. Hailey and I have made countless trips to Michael’s to purchase markers, puffy paint, hole punches, yarn, various types of paper, ribbon, glitter glue, sea glass. Sea glass! Then we’d optimistically sit down at our dining room table and try to create the newest thing I’d pinned, only to give up mid project and toss it in the drawer of unfinished projects. Sometimes, we’d actually finish the project but realize it looked nothing like the beautiful creation I had pinned and we’d inevitably throw it in the trash. After a few attempts like this, I was pretty much crafting by myself. Hailey would sit across from me with safety scissors in hand, cutting and gluing pieces of construction paper, then holding it up and saying, “Look, Mom, I made a snowman (horse, robot, cat, etc).” She was having a ball. I was frustrated and wondering what I was doing wrong. All the while, I had a visual reminder of our failed crafts in the form of a giant mirror that had been through many DIY iterations and leaned against our wall in an unfinished state, taunting me, “What are you going to do with me, you crafting loser?” The mirror was previously attached to a pine dresser, and a couple of years ago I had the bright idea to remove it from the dresser, sand it and paint it. I completed that project, but the paint I chose was sparkly, and we just aren’t sparkly people. So it just sat there, forgotten. Next, I decided to re-sand it, re-paint it and put sea glass on it. I also completed that project…kudos to me…but sea glass? A beachy theme hardly fit in with our decor. We hung it in a hallway, and every time I walked by it I thought, “Sea glass? What were you thinking?”
A couple of months ago on one of our trips to Michael’s, Hailey discovered felt pom poms. Oh, great, I thought. What can we do with pom poms that we can add to the stack of unfinished projects? But she really loved the pom poms and wanted them to be in her room. Well, I suppose we can make garland, I thought. No, too risky. Garland isn’t for amateurs! And then I remembered the bane of my existence — the mirror. So we bought hundreds of pom poms in the color scheme of Hailey’s choice and broke out my trusty glue gun. Hailey, Josh and I huddled on her bedroom floor for several hours on a Saturday afternoon and glued pom poms to a mirror frame, and it was one of my favorite days we’ve had as a family. For four hours, we talked and laughed without interruption or distraction, all of us focusing on our own space of the mirror frame and our allotted pom poms. We learned new things about each other like Hailey’s unabashed love for chow mein noodles and Josh’s Jackson Pollock-like approach to pom pom design. We sang our favorite songs and Hailey told us about her new band, “Fingernails are Pretty” and how she was going to play drums someday. It was a lovely day, and the mirror turned out to be one of our favorite pieces of furniture in our house, not because it’s especially beautiful or inspired, but because we learned on that day that crafting for us wasn’t really about the end result anyway. It’s about us spending time together as a family, working together to make our home more beautiful and learning about ourselves and each other in the process. We still suck at crafts, us Howes, but now we don’t mind so much. We just glue our construction paper together and make our snowmen and robots or throw some pom poms at a patch of hot glue. And every once in a while, maybe we’ll get a pretty cool mirror out of it.