The Ballad of the Craft-Impaired Mom

What do the children of craft-impaired mommies do? They hatch their own weird ideas - like this "let's smear shaving cream around on a box in the kitchen" favorite. It won't get our family on a magazine, but the girls enjoy it.

What do the children of craft-impaired mommies do? Out of sheer boredom, they hatch their own weird ideas – like this “let’s smear shaving cream around on a box in the kitchen” favorite.

Hopefully I’m not the only mom out there whose kid gets a cake pop kit and – though absolutely zero baking is involved – ends up with the mix bleeding out the sides of the lime green plastic, thereby leaving you with messy, shapeless cake blobs that aren’t worth refrigerating. (After some time passes, you quietly throw the plastic pieces into the recycling bin and pretend the whole thing just never happened.)

Or maybe your daughter gets a Rainbow Loom, and you stare at the directions, thinking to yourself, “I have two graduate degrees, and while they’re not in astrophysics, I should still be able to untangle instructions for making a bracelet made from tiny rubber loops. Right?! I mean, shouldn’t I?” (Yes, I eventually figured those out, but it took several attempts to “crack the code.”)

And yes, I’m one of those moms who, when Lily unwraps a Hanukkah gift only to find a knitting kit, I drop a very quiet F-bomb and break out in anticipatory flop sweat.

Let’s just say that a pattern has been established.

At the start of the school year, when I attended a parents’ meeting for leading an art appreciation lesson once a month in Lily’s class, I got a bit intimidated by hearing about the involved, clever, lots-of-planning-required craft projects that other parents had planned and coordinated with the various art units that they’d presented in the past.

So I shyly raised my hand and said, in a self-deprecating, joking tone, “I’m kind of craft-impaired – so maybe I’m not be the best person for this job – but my question is, if you’re not on Pinterest, are there other go-to places online you’d suggest I visit for some really simple ideas when I’m preparing?”

The notion that I might not be an ideal fit for the task was immediately countered by a choir of supportive voices saying, “Oh, don’t say that,” while one of the dads gaily called out from across the room, “I don’t do a craft at all!”

It was a sweet gesture. But I really hadn’t been fishing for validation or encouragement, I swear.

I was just trying to inject the idea that, for some of us, “crafting” is foreign territory. Not all moms are awesome and creative about these things. Though I try my best at everything I do, as I’ve aged, I’ve come to accept the fact that there are some things that don’t come naturally or easily; if it’s something that’s important to me, I’ll do what I need to do to get better. If it’s not important to me, I don’t bother, and I’ll either embrace being bad at it – looking at you, BOWLING – or I’ll just avoid it when I can.

Artsy craftsy stuff, for the most part, falls into the “I don’t mind it, but it’s not important to me” category. My girls love doing projects, and they come up with their own all the time – which makes my laziness regarding this “shortcoming” far more tolerable.

Having said all this, I get that for many parents, particularly moms, crafting/art projects are great fun – something they really get into and love. I have a friend who makes and decorates cakes like a professional caterer. I have another friend who sells these great knitted items on Etsy. So I really admire these skill in others.

But I’m not going to beat myself up about not being particularly good at them myself, either.

This SHOULD go without saying, of course; but as with so many things, we usually tend to obsess about what we can’t do well instead of celebrating our abilities.

Plus, when push comes to shove, you actually can search online for some easy options. One time, for instance, the common thread of the paintings I talked about in Lily’s class involved windows, and I realized I could have the kids glue 4 small index cards onto a piece of colored construction paper in a way that resembled a window. They then colored a picture on the cards as if they were looking through a window, and they could decide whether the window was on a house, a boat, a spaceship, or something else entirely.

Happy ending – that time, anyway. Other times, out of desperation, I just say, “Let’s get out some crayons and draw [insert painting theme here].” Frankly, I don’t think the kids care one whit.

So if you’re a craft-impaired mom like me, take heart. You’re not alone, and it’s not fatal.

In fact, I invite you to join me in my circle-of-no-shame, where we’re all meekly volunteering for the jobs at school that simply involve showing up and maybe reading a book to the kids, or overseeing the food during a party, or coaching the kids through another person’s creative craft idea.

No, we won’t come to the party planning meetings, because we have no cool ideas, but we’ll help. We’re always happy to help in other ways.

So let’s say it together: We’re here. We’re making cake blobs. Get used to it.

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