I Am Not a Crafty Mom, and I’m Not Ashamed About It One Bit
As I watched many of the people around me have children, I’ll admit to some mounting anxiety—every mom seemed to be crafty. Whether it was sensory bins of rice dyed the colors of the rainbow, hand-painted woodland creatures, or a saucepan of homemade play doh, there was a lot of DIY going on.
I am not a crafty person.
In my younger years, I thought I might become one. I collected old books and cool picture frames for collages and projects I might one day create. All of those things still sit in my parent’s basement, to my mom’s chagrin.
But as a parent, the stakes feel higher. My almost three-year-old needs to be exposed to art, to develop a relationship with creativity, preferably in thematic, bite-sized chunks, with only a little adult glue gun help needed. Or so it seems.
I decided early on, while I was still pregnant, that I wasn’t going to try to be what I wasn’t. I wanted to be a good mom, but I thought that the best way to do that is to bring who I am to the table—my strengths and weaknesses. I still think that. So I let my not-crafty flag proudly fly.
Somehow, it turns out that there are ways for me to help cultivate creativity without opening Pinterest. My daughter is happy with her crayons and a pad of paper or a coloring book. We build wonderful structures together with her Duplos, and she cooks elaborate meals in her play kitchen. Often, I’ll hear her talking with her dolls, taking them with her on adventures of her own making. Sometimes, we stir up a batch of pancakes together or watch the hummus whirl in the food processor. We make up songs and sing them and dance until we fall down laughing, and we stomp around and roar as we pretend to be dinosaurs.
But she’s not always with me, which is good for both of us.
With my parents, she gets to break out the sidewalk chalk and use the special markers. During the holidays, my mom helped her make an ornament to hang on our tree that involved tracing her hand. She paints with my husband—a hobby that relaxes him and delights her. Soon, she’ll be in preschool, and there will be more crafts that I don’t need to plan or execute. I’ll display them on my mantle and on my fridge.
At some point, she too will have the chance to decide what kinds of leisure activities she enjoys. Maybe she will enjoy the thrill of creating something with her own hands. Maybe she’ll write stories or take up photography like I did. Maybe she’ll do something else entirely.
In my mind, the point of introducing kids to creative pursuits is to encourage them to follow the things that make their hearts sing. To try something new, something that they might not be good at and might never do again (in my case, that is decoupage). Creativity and play can teach us that it’s okay not to be good at everything, to fail sometimes, and to try it a different way next time.
When my friends started having kids, and starting letting their crafty sides show, I worried that I wouldn’t have what it takes to be a mom. If being a mom meant knowing your way around a craft store, or how to use a sewing machine, or what kind of glue to use for what, maybe I wasn’t cut out for the job.
But now I know a few more moms. Some of them are crafty, sure, but not all of them. Some of them are really good at sports, or music, or any number of unique things that made up their personalities before they were someone’s mom. They bring all of that to the table in their parenting, just as I bring myself to mine.
I’m learning that my crafty friends aren’t crafty because it’s what they are supposed to do, but because they enjoy it. My friends that make their kid’s food in cute shapes really get a kick out of it. My musical and sports-minded friends love to introduce their kids to the things they themselves love, just as I do. And sometimes we all get out of our comfort zones for our kids, learning our own lessons about trying something new, something we might never want to do again, or something we might end up loving.
There are lots of ways to encourage kids to embrace creativity. There are lots of different ways to be a mom, and lots of ways to be a kid. I want to show my daughter that it’s okay to do it your own way, on your own schedule. I’m not going to expect her to enjoy certain activities, I’m curious about what she’ll be into. I want her to know that being a mom, or a woman, or a person, isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. There is room for all of us—those who are crafty, and those who are not. If one story doesn’t suit you, you can be creative, and write another.