In my effort to expand my social network, I recently attended my first MOPS meeting. MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers, a slight misnomer since it includes mothers of children ages 0-5, as well as expectant moms like me. While I was excited to meet other moms and moms-to-be, I have to admit that I was a little concerned about this kickoff meeting. The email reminder had mentioned we would be decorating nametags to go along with the theme for the year. This sounded crafty to me, and I don’t do crafts.
However I am determined that my daughter will not be raised a reclusive loner, and so for the sake of her future socialization, I put my doubts aside and showed up. Surely I could decorate a name tag to secure my daughter some future play dates, right? I was met by a group of lovely and gracious women – who in addition to being lovely and gracious also provided cookies. So far, so good.
It was not long into the session that we were given a schedule for the year. My worst fears were confirmed: Crafts are indeed a central focus of this group. In fact, every other meeting revolves around a craft project. That’s a lot of art for this girl.
I tried to cover my panic with a placid smile, but beads of sweat began pooling on my forehead, my heart began pounding against my chest, and I felt the sudden urge to flee. But I was too gripped by terror to move! I have nothing against arts & crafts or the people who partake in such things, but I myself possess absolutely zero artistic ability. The thought of being subjected to art projects on a monthly basis and thus exposing my embarrassing lack of skill to a group of artistically-able women makes me feel extremely vulnerable.
It’s my parents’ fault, really. You see, rather than provide support and encouragement for my childhood artistic endeavors, they favored mockery and ridicule. Before you think my parents are cruel, pitiless monsters, it’s okay – really! Did I grow up with ambitions in things I had no talent for? Nope. Did I pursue futile dreams in the arts? Not a chance. Rather, I accepted my inadequacies at a young age and focused my energies in the other, plentiful areas in which I excelled. Besides, the ‘rents waited until I was out of the early elementary years to begin taunting my creative abilities (or lack thereof), so the scars aren’t too deep.
But scars there are, and now whenever I’m faced with the prospect of a craft project, I go to a dark place. The teasing and taunts of my parents still linger in my head. In fact, the teasing and taunts go on to this day! For artistic blunders of years past!
For example, in elementary school I took pottery classes. I loved these pottery classes. But after two years, my mother made me quit claiming we were “too busy”. (Because fifth graders do have such demanding schedules). I now realize she didn’t want to finance a hobby that resulted in me bringing home LPC (Little Pieces of Crap) on a weekly basis that only served to defile her holiday décor. For those early childhood years, my parents feigned pride in my accomplishments, displaying those clay creations in prominent positions throughout the house. But as soon as they felt I was old enough to handle the truth, the mocking began. And hasn’t stopped since.
Case in point: As recently as last November, my father began emailing me on a daily basis a picture of one of my formerly prized pottery pieces – a Thanksgiving turkey – in various locales throughout the house. What had been an innocent craft creature suddenly took on a sinister, demonic quality.
Then there was the Jacob and the Technicolor Coat incident. In junior high, I assisted my parents in teaching a kindergarten Sunday School class. One Sunday, it was my responsibility to make a mock-up of the craft for the day: Jacob’s coat. Somehow, ripping apart colored construction paper and pasting it onto a pre-cut coat was beyond my grasp; I inexplicably created the most hideous crafted coat you can imagine. That coat still provides my family endless dinnertime fodder, and will for years to come.
High school provided more opportunities for scorn and derision. My junior year, I took AP Art History. (Interestingly, I ended up minoring in Art History in college. Those who can’t… study?) After completing the AP exam, we spent the remainder of the school year – you guessed it – crafting. Every day I approached 3rd period with dread. After completing our first project – an aluminum picture frame that required much more effort than appears – I brought it home and sheepishly showed my mom. She immediately put a picture in it and to this day it remains a fixture on her desk. The gesture sounds supportive, but no. I’m convinced the frame stands there as a constant source of passive-aggressive mockery; an ever-present reminder of all that I failed to be.
Perhaps this sheds some light on why a monthly meeting revolving around crafts strikes fear deep in my heart. Why can’t these meetings revolve around cocktails instead of crafts? That I could get behind.
But alas, crafts is the name of the game, and being
desperate for companionship the loving mother-to-be I am, I will dutifully attend these craft sessions and reveal my artistic weaknesses if I must. These ladies won’t be the harsh judges that my parents are, right? Maybe belonging to a supportive group of ladies will cure me of my insecurities! (At a much cheaper rate than a therapist, no less). I could become a decoupage connoisseur, a scrapbooking specialist! The possibilities are endless!
At the first official meeting, we will be sewing pumpkins, presumably because it’s fall and that’s what you do in fall. The last time I wielded a needle and thread was… Honestly, I have no idea. (My mother is cringing right now). This has the potential to be dangerous, in addition to embarrassing. But I will swallow my pride and sew. Wish me luck.Read More