“Here you go, Mom! It’s the best one yet!”
Logan held up the third portrait of me he has made in an hour. Each one displayed brick red lines for lips and dandelion yellow scribbles for hair — which is actually a step up for my style these days.
This one in particular added dark blue eyeshadow, a shade I haven’t worn since I experimented with makeup during the early ‘90’s.
“Wow! It looks just like me!”
I smile and hold it up next to my face while the boy beside me beams with pride. We are surrounded by paper, craft supplies, and crayons because my birthday is coming up in a few weeks, and everyone knows that mom’s favorite kinds of gifts are homemade ones. Let me be honest here; I am about to confess to something I feel might go against the natural laws of motherhood.
I don’t like crafts. Not at all.
When they bring home stuff from church or school, and his eyes light up as he describes to me what his Popsicle stick Noah’s ark represents, it’s sweet and I enjoy that part of it. What they will never know is that I really just want to wait until they are out of sight and throw that cotton ball bearded Santa Claus in the trash.
Instead, I hang it on the fridge next to the turkey hand cutout where it will stay until somewhere around July when it’s replaced with some kind of ode to firecracker creation. I feel bad about this, I really do.
To everyone out there who works with my kids, the problem is me, it is definitely not you. I know they are both learning and enjoying making these things, and I honestly appreciate your sacrifice.
You do crafts with my kids so I don’t have to.
When they are done at my house, I get instantly overwhelmed. Scattered on the table are shards of patterned paper to glue onto bigger pieces of paper, 5,000 tiny beads to string onto fishing wire or yarn or something, and sheet after sheet of superhero stickers to stick on absolutely everything (including the bathroom wall and the dog). I greatly admire the people who can look at this mess, and have some kind of glitter glue vision, but for me, it is a bunch of stuff I don’t know what to do with — except for later on when I’m vacuuming and find it underneath the dining room table.
Still, handmade gifts are my kids’ specialty.
Their construction paper creations are usually enhanced with some kind of glitter and scribbled out in the honor of everyone they have ever met — including our trash pickup man and the people who walk their dog by our house in the mornings.
Each gift is made with sheer joy as they proudly announce the recipient upon completion. They never question if Mom wants a dried pasta necklace or if Grandma needs a pipe cleaner crown — although honestly, I don’t care who you are, you need a pipe cleaner crown. Woven into his latest portrait of me with scribbled charcoal hair and bright white skin (he went a little goth on this one) are the adorations of a boy who one day will probably not even acknowledge me in public.
This day or these specific pictures will probably not even be a memory to him in ten or fifteen years, but as I swoon over every portrait he hands me, his confidence builds. This is true in everything he does.
When we take the time to appreciate them for the small stuff, it adds up to a big reward. A kid who knows he is valued and cherished will grow up ready to take on the world and become a valuable member of society. Could this mean that crafts could actually make the world a better place?
Well, maybe, but I still don’t want to do them.
What I will do is celebrate these flimsy art pages as they are handed to me, because what he puts into them is more than just Crayola strokes; it’s his heart.
And that is something I will keep forever.