Sometimes I wonder if I’m dude. Not like I’m having doubts about my gender assignment or anything, but I relate so much more to the stereotypical dude world. But then again, we place way too much emphasis on gender and gender expectations. So maybe I’m just a female who was born to buck traditional expectations of being a person with lady parts and shock the world with my lack of interest in making crafts. Yeah, I’m not crafty.
Not only am I not crafty, but the very thought of looking at or replicating crafts of any sort makes me physically unwell. I’ve cried in a fabric store. More than once. (Becky…you were there.) Being in Michael’s Craft Store makes me feel like I’m coming down with early onset dementia as I walk from aisle to aisle with no idea what I’m looking for or who I am. I just keep repeating, “Still Alice” over and over again until I see sunlight. And Pinterest? Umm, I went once and I cried in the shower for weeks.
Crafting is too much. Too many ideas. Too many choices. Too many expectations of adorable perfection. It overwhelms me in a way that I almost can’t quite explain, but then again I can. I sweat. I fell instantly inferior and not good enough. I call into question the very validity of being a parent, being female. What kind of monster woman/mother won’t make adorable Halloween crafts? And then I just get angry…with the world…with the patriarchal society that foists this unfair expectation on me…with consumerism…with the magazine industry at large…and with the evil bastards that created Pinterest and made crafting mainstream, cool, and sexy. Damn them!
Here’s the deal though. I’m not bad a crafting. When I was pregnant with my first child I learned to knit and I loved it. Is knitting a craft? See? I don’t even know! But, I sat on the train to New York City with my knitting needles and made cable knit hats and even a complicated, multi-color sweater with a chocolate lab in a black and white checkered box. Yeah, if you’ve ever knit anything, you were just like, whoa, respect, M.
And respect to the crafters out there too. It takes guts and mad skills to create a vision in your head, assemble the inexpensive supplies that when you check out are somehow thousands of dollars, and magically turn that into something special. Risk and reward at its finest. It’s like managing a hedge fund, but with crafts…maybe. I’ve never been completely clear on what a hedge fund is.
I know all about the risk/reward of crafting because recently I put my cynical, craft loathing self aside and DIYed the hell out of my daughter’s sixteenth birthday party. She wanted something simple…just a nice dinner in the backyard for about 15 friends. I lobbied for a restaurant, but no, mom…just some white lights, white table clothes, and fresh flowers with pink, white and gold colors. Who was this child? I double-checked the birthmark on her shoulder to be sure she hadn’t been switched out while I was busy hating crafts. I agreed to make this happen for her and immediately channeled all of my lady parts with a pep talk.
“Look, guys, I know you are just biological aspects of my reproductive system that have no bearing on my interest and ability to do crafts, but tell that to the rest of the world. I need you. Estrogen? You’re in charge here. I need you to step up and override my desire to order take out pizza and serve pitchers of soda.”
Estrogen was like, “Holy shit, I’ve been waiting for 46 years for you to put me to use. Can we start cooking too?” I was like, “Okay, okay, settle down, E. We’re not going full-on Good Housekeeping here. It’s one party. Just get it done.”
I decided to treat the entire party like writing a blog. I did have the ability to take those creative visions and transfer them from my brain into reality. Perhaps this party was no different. I enlisted the help of my actually crafty daughter, Lily. Trust me, I’ve been checking the birthmark on her back for years…and she’s mine too. I made lists of supplies. I made lists for food. I made lists for my lists. I discovered the secret to crafting was, in fact, mostly making lists.
I threw caution to the wind and just started buying stuff. That’s the other key to crafting…just shelling out tons of money, throwing it up in the air, and seeing what sticks. SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS! I ordered online like a maven. Paper lanterns of all sizes in our theme colors. Gumballs. Chalkboard labels. Twine. Baker’s twine in pink and white. Burlap. Turns out having theme colors is incredibly helpful. I also discovered there’s almost nothing you can’t do with a lot of mason jars and, bless the good people at Ball’s, they were the cheapest thing I bought.
I started collecting all these items and putting them on guest room bed. When I’d add another random, unassembled thing, I’d seriously wonder how it would all come together. Still, I soldiered on with Lily cheering me along, even if she did make fun of me for calling it DYI. I’m seriously clueless. But I got into it. I lost touch with my family and friends. I considered quitting my job, or taking a leave of absence because crafting is time consuming, yo. And in a moment of complete insanity, when I was deep in the Michael’s dementia, I let Lily convince me to make the cake. I consulted a friend about fondant and boldly purchased things like icing bags and borrowed a ton of supplies. I had lost my mind and would now embark on making the world’s most expensive cake, because, crafting.
About two days before the party, I panicked. What had I done? I looked at the receipts and I had spent a year’s college tuition on supplies. Nothing was ready or complete or baked or frosted. Some assembly wasn’t required. ALL assembly was required. I made a mental note that I should never open a Hedge Fund.
The next days were a blur. I became a different person…a DIY crafter…a person possessed by Martha Stewart. And I must say, I kind of rocked it. My vision started to come together and holy hell if I didn’t pull the entire thing off. Well, I did balk on the fondant. F*ck fondant! I still made a beautiful delicious cake for about the half the price of a bakery cake. I’m lying. I’ll go to the grave with how much that sucker cost me.
The party was a smash. My daughter’s friends, who know me as a strong, badass, domestically challenged woman, were impressed (shocked, really) by my mad DIY skills. We all learned an important lesson in life…even a feminist who identifies mostly as a dude can successfully tap into the craft world and make a whimsical, beautiful, memorable party. It also proves that if I can do it, anyone can…even, dare I say it…an actually dude! Take that Pinterest! (I know, I know, Pinterest is not the enemy…but it kind of is.)
Check out the photos, courtesy of my very talented friend, Kellie at Kellie Signature Photography: