She came to me with such faith. She came to me with complete trust in my abilities. And to my horror, my 9 year old trusting daughter came to me asking me to make handmade Valentine’s Day cards for her dance friends.
Handmade!!! Not the completely sufficient ones you can buy at Target. Not the ones that come in a cute little box, with cute little cartoon characters, and cute little spaces for candy. She wanted original, handmade cards. And get this – she wanted a different one for every girl in her dance class!
As I have written before on this blogging journey, I grew up knowing that I wasn’t creative. It was a well-situated brick in the foundation of my life. I had settled that issue in my heart, and had simply avoided anything that even slightly shimmered with creativity.
Up until then, I had deftly avoided any collision between myself and creativity. Up until then, my kids had been young enough that I could fool them with pre-made, purchased, simple crafts.
At this request of my sweet little girl, I knew that I was about to be outed for the non-creative, insufficient mother that I was. I felt panic rising as we counted out together how many different Valentine’s her request meant. As I realized it was going to be 14, I started negotiating with her about how she really didn’t want that. Surely a few of them could be duplicates…
As reality hit me, and I realized that, yes, I really was going to have to come up with a massive variety of original Valentine’s Day cards, I tapped into a little-talked-about parenting life saver: Do what you’re good at.
I am a researcher. That doesn’t mean that I’m not at all creative (…my adult self is saying with simultaneously equal amounts of insecurity and courage) – but itdoes mean that I might not have ready access in my mind to a host of creative solutions. What it also means is that, if I need to produce a creative, playful, handmade product, I will probably need to research. I call it researching creativity. I have become an expert at it over the years of parenting.
Almost immediately, I led my daughter to a website hosted by Family Fun magazine. I had subscribed to their magazine for years, but had rarely visited their online site. However, Family Fun came through for me. They had a myriad of homemade valentines, with complete instructions for what supplies you needed as well as how to make them. I sat down with her and helped her pick a wide variety of designs, and then we gleefully skipped to the craft supply store to buy what we needed to produce the valentines that would thrill her heart.
Over the years I have come to believe that, within these areas, there are two main types of people: natural researchers and natural creatives. That doesn’t mean that the two can’t function in the other’s world, but that each will be stretched if requested on a regular basis to cross the blurred lines. I look enviously across the landscape at my friends who are creatives. They provide such a natural and easy atmosphere of fun for their family. Because I wanted that for my family, I learned how to plan, strategize, and research fun. It is probably more mechanical, but it gets the job done.
When my daughter brought 14 different kinds of handmade Valentine’s Day cards to her friends, she beamed. I beamed. It didn’t matter how the cards were discovered – whether they spontaneously spoke life into themselves (as it appears to happen with my creative friends) or whether they were researched, studied, planned and executed – the result was that my daughter was able to create a product that she had dreamed of, and that I was her hero.
If you are a natural creative, please know that I am jealous, and that I am laboring to keep up with you. If you are a researcher, recognize your gift of investigation and use it to your family’s benefit.
The next several posts, in honor of the coming Valentine’s Day holiday, I am going to be posting a series on romance. I hope you stay close and read my journey into become a receiver of romance!