I was cleaning my bathroom the other day and as I wiped the ledge under the mirror, I once again spied the nasty ring my kids left by leaving a glass of water overnight:
Thankfully, I found the perfect way to cover this eyesore by digging up the pretty soaps my friend Susan makes and putting them in a candy dish I got from my Grandmother:
I once again marveled at my friend's skill and talent in the soap-making department. Then I wondered how she found the time to do this with three young girls (including a set of twins). It got me thinking.
I have another friend who plants a dizzying array of flowers, vegetables, herbs, and ferns season after season. She nurtures, waters, and tends to an army of potted perennials that leave my backyard looking like a wasteland in comparison. She even went so far as to create her own "fairy garden" this summer:
My friend works a stressful job, cares for her family, and yet finds the time to arrange little gnomes in a pot of vines alongside whatever those red flowers are.
We all know about Atheist-Friend who can bake better than most professionals out there. Just today I polished off the last of a batch of blueberry muffins that will surely find their way to my ass before I have to put on a bathing suit again:
Atheist-Friend cooks more than anyone I know. And she gives most of it away. Many people find her generosity impressive, but I have a theory she's just trying to keep the rest of us fat.
In writing of the talents of those around me, I can't go much further without recognizing my mom's own area of expertise. My mom sews better than my 7th grade Home Economics teacher (who really should be fired as I still can't preheat an oven or sew a button on a shirt despite receiving a pity "A" in the class). My mom lovingly created these sparkly (and monogrammed!) Christmas stockings for my boys:
She also made me a beautiful Christmas tree skirt with little angels. At the time she was working on it, Daniel was obsessed with dying and being forced to wear an angel's dress in heaven. He asked if Nana would be able to make him some special angel pants in advance of his arrival (since Nana surely would enter heaven well ahead of him). Out of respect for Daniel's wardrobe concerns, the little angels on the skirt are all wearing pants:
When I looked at the collective skills and passions of my friends and family, I started to feel like a miserable failure. I have none of the traditional mom abilities (cooking, sewing, gardening, crafting, creating). My handwriting is horrible. I'm not that gracious. I curse like a sailor. And I forget everyone's name. How did I miss the boat on becoming a proper lady? Modern times be damned, I really wanted to be good at this stuff. Yet no matter how much practice or instruction I were to receive now, I would never be able to iron as well as my husband. You'd think the guy had been in the army the way he can smooth pleats.
Regardless of gender roles and such, I began to wonder why my friends pursued such endeavors. They all lead extremely busy lives and I wasn't sure where they found the time. When I questioned several moms about their hobbies, it all seemed to boil down to one constant refrain:
It preserves my sanity.
These pursuits provided an escape of sorts. A way to do something they enjoyed. Yet to alleviate the guilt most mothers feel over everything, other people (namely me) would also reap the benefits. Pretty soap. Yummy muffins. Nifty decorations. It was a win-win.
It's funny how many of the hobbies of women seem to benefit those around them. My husband golfs - not too much altruism going on there. He bowls. Ditto on the altruism. Still, I struggled to find what I myself could do. What brings me fulfillment that I can pass off as some kind of humanitarian act? In between yelling at the kids about piano, doing laundry, and picking somebody up from wherever I'd left them last, I didn't have a lot of time on my hands.
Then it hit me. I blog now. That's code for writing. I love to write! My handful of loyal readers seem to like my creative output. Could it be? I actually had a benevolent, mom-like hobby and didn't even know it?
A lady at last.