http://accidentalmissionary.net/2015/05/22/to-the-moms-just-stop-it/ link to the blog post.
Yup, I get it and agree. I’m a creative soul, not just crafty but full on Artist. And I stopped being The Crafty Mom completely by the the time my oldest child hit fourth grade. When she hit middle school I eased back in, just a little, and only in the things she had great enthusiasm for and at her request.
Because it wasn’t working. I’m very creative, I’m also rather socially awkward, as are a lot of people who fall where I do on the creativity spectrum. I’m that kind of creative that can take a pile of newspaper and three rolls of masking tape and build Mount Rushmore in an afternoon. Your kids love me, they think I’m the coolest mom ever because my creativity is on par with their imaginations. I see the world through a rainbow of a million colors that I could talk about in great detail if you asked me, and have on numerous occasions. I was in my thirties before I realized that “Isn’t that a lovely blue?” was just small talk, they weren’t actually asking for my professional opinion. Worse, I was apparently coming across as a Know It All, and -most devastating- it was pushing people away because they had no understanding of my million color vision. People who see the world in 256 colors don’t realize that there are more to see, and when you point it out they feel… less. I had no idea I was doing that. It took me years to learn to recognize the Smile-n-Nod. There are also the people who see the world in 12 colors, they do know there is more out there, and often welcomed me, but only for their own benefit. The 12 color people, they see me as an asset, not a friend. They have no need to learn how to make the Diddley Bobs for the Father Daughter dance, no desire to help or keep me company while I made 5000 Cute Decorations, only that they get made. I am a physical asset to them, nothing more.
I made and made and made in hopes of someone seeing me underneath the glue and colored paper. I desperately threw myself into doing everything the Organized Professional Mom wanted done for the class Christmas party to a perfection of Martha Stewart standards because I thought it would make them like me. I thought it would make me acceptable in their Perfect Haircuts & Tennis Skirts world. I was wrong. I realized when Normal People say “you’re so creative! I wish I could do that!” what they really mean is “you are a strange creature I do not understand… but you are also moderately useful, so I will smile and be nice for now”. Then they go for coffee and leave me alone decorating the whole gym by myself. I don’t need you to be creative like me. I just want you to accept my creativity and not be scared by it. As a people, we have no problems seeing business genius in Bill Gates or athletic prowess in Michael Jordan and admire those talents without fear. Yet I walk in and turn the piece of poster board into Magnetos helmet with a few cuts, some tape and two markers and I am a freak to be shunned. I don’t understand why this is so scary to people.
So I quit. I pulled back from every “call for volunteers”. I didn’t give any end of year teacher gifts at all, I encouraged my girls to write letters instead. (On nice paper, with drawings and good spelling and grammar. The things teachers genuinely appreciate). When asked about hemming the choir dresses my reply was “not for free, but I can write up a fair price”. I don’t like putting a dollar value on my work, but it seems to be the only way anyone else puts value on my skills and talents.
So, the next time you see the Crafty Mom with her awesome cupcakes or too cute party favors, standing there with a smile plastered on her face not speaking to adults but asking the children if they like them, she really wants to talk to you but doesn’t know how. When your kids say “mom, why don’t you make Whatsits for my class!” say to them “y’know, she can do some really cool things that I don’t know how to do. But that’s okay because I can _______________ (fill in the blank with your own skills and talents). Not everyone can do all the same things and that’s okay, because the world would be really boring if they did”.
And invite her for coffee.