Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What Are You Making?

I recently found myself in a craft store with all four of my children. Even on a good day taking that many children into a store full of thousands of colorful things to see and touch is not a good idea, but my twelve year old daughter is blessed with creative ideas and the ability to make them reality so I like to indulge her on occasion. This time it was for Christmas and Hanukkah fabric. She planned to make festive pillowcases for a nearby children's hospital to brighten the beds of sick children during the holidays.

As I was standing in line at the fabric cutting table, I felt anxious to hurry up and get out of there. My twelve year old was quietly perusing the aisles, but the younger three were getting restless and handling way too many bobbins of thread. I was also feeling a little embarrassed by my two year old who has clothing fetishes. After much blood, sweat and tears (emphasis on the tears) I had successfully maneuvered a jacket over her current obsession: a filthy, bright yellow "Iowa Hawkeyes" tee-shirt she had been wearing for over twenty four hours. I noticed however, that she had pulled a Houdini, gotten out of the jacket and was mischievously smiling up at me from the cart full of fabric bolts - messy hair and snotty nose to boot!

There were no other mothers with young children in the store, so in my self-consciousness I assumed the other customers were feeling annoyed by my children and maybe even looking down on me for the seeming neglect of my toddler. I was jolted out of my preoccupation with self when the woman behind me asked, "What are you making?" Before my turn at the cutting table was up I was asked that question three times. I realized after the third time that's what women do at craft stores while waiting in line - they share what they are making. It was fun to hear about everyone else's projects, but I learned something that day from the response I got to my daughter's project and my children in general.

I had been viewing this trip to the craft store from a very short lens. All I could focus on was getting what we needed and getting out of there without doing too much damage to the store or my self respect. But when I stopped to talk to the women around me and look into their eyes, I saw myself and my children from a much longer lens. I didn't see disdain or annoyance at all. I saw admiration for my daughter and her project, and I think I even detected a bit of admiration for a woman willing to bring four children to a craft store for the sake of encouraging her daughter to develop her talent and make something for someone else. I even sensed a wistful longing for a family with several small and adorable children. An unbidden thought came to me suddenly and struck with total clarity: what am I making? I'm making a home and a family, that's what I'm making. As I stood with those women and looked at my children from their vantage point, I understood for one perfect minute just how influential - even monumental - the seemingly mundane acts of motherhood really are.

As mothers, we make so many things for our families. We make sack lunches, we make lists, we make scrapbooks, we make Halloween costumes, we make beds, we make trips to craft stores, we make phone calls to teachers, we make plans for the future, we make time for our children. And in all the making, let's not forget what we are really making: homes and families. Families that consist of little people literally becoming every day who they will be for the rest of their lives - a creation of the feelings and experiences they will have while under our care. When we view our work as mothers from this lengthy perspective, the mundane becomes meaningful and the routine a reason to rejoice in being a mom.

To read more stuff like this, go here.


  1. What a wonderful and beautiful reminder. I recently read a book about motherhood that talked about the significance of the term "homemaker" over that of "stay-at-home mom". It's true - we're making homes, that's what we're making. Thanks for this post!

  2. So thoughtfully written.

    I have four in toe basically whenever I go out . . . (so I don't do it often)!

  3. When I went to JoAnn's (The first time EVER), I only had 3 of my kids. Gunnar was in the car seat on top of the cart, Ashlin & I were looking at ribbon, and Troy was unrolling some of the spools. A worker asked him to stop, and as I was rolling it back up, he walked over to the cart and stepped up on the side of it. The whole think tipped over, landing on top of Troy and flinging Gunnar across the room. Never going back there AGAIN! Well, at least not with the kids!


Related Posts with Thumbnails