3.08.2015

in defense of mess and diy

I was married in 2009, before Pinterest was a thing.

I remember falling in love with pocket invitations and yet how put off I was by having to stuff the pockets and seal the invitations myself. At that time, anything that could even remotely be classified as DIY -- even something as minimal as putting cards into the proper pockets of an invitation -- wasn't my cup of tea. No, not even a little bit. Our wedding favors were the soundtrack to our love story, songs meticulously chosen and burned to CD's and labeled with labels that I hired someone to design and stick on for me because craftphobia. I had it. More than a phobia, a complete lack of interest in doing anything myself.

Eventually, Pinterest became a thing. I shirked it for as long as I could. By the time Ethan's first birthday came around, I found the usefulness of Pinterest. It gave me all of these great ideas for his party but I didn't possess the patience or skill to see them come to fruition on my own. Glue? Washi tape? Hammering? Painting? Are you crazy? I asked my craftier, more creative friends to help me. After all, they knew how to do things themselves. They did things they saw on Pinterest for fun while I marveled in their successes. I was good for placing calls to order the food and supplies and show friends pictures of how I imagined things. I mean, I had no idea how to take an idea or pin and turn it into reality. Absolutely none whatsoever.


I didn't make any of these things. Except the really cute kid -- I made him. Bonus points.

After Ethan's first birthday party, which required me to get my hands dirty in the crafting world as I helped my more creative friends, I realized it wasn't so bad. Not at all. Hot gluing, spray painting and adding words like "jute twine" into my vocabulary was actually kind of...fun. At around the same time, Ethan's artistic interest began to develop. He couldn't walk yet, but the kid was content to sit and fingerpaint or color for long stretches of time. It was then that I began to fully immerse myself in child led learning, in art for children and in sensory activities.

One thing led to another and before long, I was hopelessly addicted to Pinterest and creating things both for and with Ethan.

By the time his second birthday party rolled around, I had mastered the art of spray paint and epoxy and there was no DIY project too intimidating for me to tackle. While I undoubtedly drove my husband nuts with the clutter of paper and supplies and glue and glitter that coated our living room on a regular basis, I discovered something: making things was relaxing. And, well, fun. Perhaps this is just another example at how our interests shift the older we get. I blinked and then sitting at the dining room table that rarely sees any dining and making things sort of trumped anything I used to show an interest in.

I go a little crazy over Ethan's birthday parties, I will admit. I basically plan for his parties year 'round, throwing things into time to get serious mode about five months before the actual big day. I let myself get a little worked up and stressed out because I'm me and that's what I do, but I love it. I love every second of it. I love my quiet nights pushing off bedtime in favor of making truffula trees out of paper towel rolls. I love spending whatever short glimmer of free time I have adding details to something that will likely be overlooked the day of the party. It's therapeutic. That's the strangest part to me, someone who couldn't run away fast enough from DIY products: it's therapeutic.

And, seeing how often my three year old begs to make art or do a project or says "let's look on Pinterest for something fun to make, mommy" -- I think he agrees.

There's a lot of snark that coats social media when it comes to "Pinterest moms." There are insults hurled, promises that Pinterest moms aren't as "perfect" as they think they are. There's a lot of hatred, a lot of claims that those who use Pinterest to make things are simultaneously ruining the childhood and lives of all around them. To me, it's not about perfection (what's that?). It's not about outdoing and showing off and destroying the fun from children's lives. On the contrary, Pinterest has given me quite a gift. As someone who wasn't even 1% artsy or crafty or creative prior to having children, I quite enjoy learning the ropes with Ethan. I like making things for him. I like making things with him. I like the joy on his face when he finishes a project or the concentration on his face as he diligently works on a painting or art project. I like seeing the huge strides in his development and learning at the hands of an art project or sensory activity. The truth is, without Pinterest, I wouldn't have this outlet. We wouldn't have this outlet. My house wouldn't be covered in glitter (not that my husband would complain about this one) and I wouldn't have paint on the walls or Mod Podge adhered to the table or crayons melted in the backseat of my car, but our lives wouldn't be quite as bright.

I like to make things. We like to make things. My child loves to make things and I love to watch him make things, help him make things and provide him with the tools in which he needs for the kind of enrichment I think necessary for a healthy, well-rounded childhood. And, really, I am grateful for the gift of unwinding and mind-occupying and relaxation that late night craft sessions give me, that "Pinterest party" planning gives me.

And I'm pretty sure that when it comes to childhood, Ethan is having a great time. Above all else, this is the one thing that gives my heart peace. He is having a great time.

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