I’m a pretty good cook. And I love to be in the kitchen.
But I’ve never been very good at handicrafts. I seem to be all thumbs, and my husband has often told me that I am “blind in my mind’s eye.” I just can’t picture what a project should look like when it is done or what steps it takes to get from point A to point B.
No matter how hard I’ve tried, I haven’t been able to overcome the fact that I am handicraft-challenged. With blood, sweat and tears I’ve learned to use a glue gun, but I’ll never be one of those women who weaves place mats on a loom constructed from string and a cardboard box.
So why put so much energy into trying to improve? Society tells us that we need to work to overcome every weakness, even though many times the reward won’t be commensurate with the amount of effort it took to get there.
We need to think about our weaknesses and strengths differently. Instead of pouring so much time and effort into trying to change the weak areas of our personality, we should spend a little time trying to improve on our strengths.
No amount of work is going to turn me into Martha Stewart, at least when it comes to making centerpieces. But it wouldn’t take me much effort at all to begin to emulate her in the kitchen. Put another way, my grade in handicrafts is an F. If I try really hard, I may be able to raise it to a C-. Will that really impact my life, or anyone else’s? Will my kids remember, “She was an average crafter” at my funeral? But what if I could change my A grade at cooking to an A+? With far less effort, I can achieve far greater impact.
By working with my personality, instead of against it, I can bring my A-game to my mothering.
We are usually remembered for the things we really excel at. Those are typically the things that give us the most joy, as well. I’m working on learning to let go of my expectations to be decent at everything to focus on being really great at a few things.
In years past, I’ve kicked myself for not doing a lot of hands-on craft projects with my kids. I hate hands-on craft projects, and you know I’m all thumbs…but I feel guilty when I hear what other homeschoolers are doing with their kids. I want my kids to have fond memories of our activities, not memories of mommy crying because a drinking straw, a thread and two paperclips didn’t make a scale, as promised.
Several years back, I decided to focus on feasts instead. Sure, we’ll do a few hands-on projects, but most of our creative energy is being spent preparing feasts. We are learning lots of great things about the countries we are studying, and my kids are enjoying trying new foods and working with me in the kitchen. I’m enjoying it, too!
A small amount of effort on my part is yielding big rewards. Now it’s all about camaraderie and happy memories, not about blood, sweat and tears.