The mother of my first husband was the embodiment of the term "crafter." She could make a basket out of leftover yard clippings, a doll out of cardboard toilet rolls, and cook a five-course meal from a refrigerator with nothing more in it than old butter and a couple of moldy apples. Everytime she visited she wanted to go to the craft store. From those excursions, I developed a serious case of craft-store guilt. I couldn't go into a craft store without feeling like I should be doing something with the things they sold there. But I could never settle on just one craft. I toyed with jewelry-making a few times, I had this great idea a couple of years ago to start making things with wine corks. I've tried scrapbooking, knitting, origami, rug-making, macrame, crocheting and painting wooden knick-knacks. Not a damn thing has stuck.
I don't really suck at crafts, I just never finish them. Or I do one or two projects, they turn out really nice, but my interest in them is over.
My pregnancies were mostly unremarkable, with the possible exception of the size of my gargantuan butt, but they were a time that will always be unforgettable and special to me. After I knew I was having first my daughter, and then my son, my craftiness revived itself for a brief time. I hand-made both of their birth announcements with heavy card-stock, stamps, ribbon, knick-knacks and a glue gun. After each birth, during my maternity leave, I made a shadow box for them. In it I put their hospital picture and their birth announcement, their baby booties and caps, and some blue or pink baby things from the scrapbooking section of the craft store. I loved making them. Loved making them for my children to have.
My children will leave me with far more physical mementos of their presence in my life than I will ever leave with them. My office is covered with drawings, pictures, school craft projects, magnets, hand-made frames. Colored pieces of paper cut into the shape of hearts and tied together with yarn. Paintings and crayon drawings. A beautiful picture of a dragon and a story to go with it from a second grade art project.
I have one wall at home that I use as an art gallery. I bought some clear acrylic frames, and every couple of months or so I pick out the most colorful and interesting drawings or art projects and I place them inside the frame and put them up on the wall. The old drawings go into a steam trunk that used to belong to my grandfather. Its the same trunk where my own mother kept the best of my drawings from preschool through high school graduation. Someday my children will go through this trunk and relive their childhood. They will, if they want to, get to have some of those pictures and report cards and craft projects to show their own children. But there will always be a box of their things with me, for as long as I breathe. A box where I can look through my treasures, read their words, see their smiling faces. At 10 and 7 they have already given me a lifetime of memories.
My ex finally collected his things from my home this week. I had forgotten that the list of things we agreed on splitting included those shadow boxes. It bothered me at the time that he wanted one of them, but so much else was going on, I was tired and worn out from the stress and conflict and I forgot to address it. So the movers were taking the piano and the last of his things from my garage, and he asked about the box. I didn't know what to say. I went and got one of them. I gave it to him. Tried not to cry in front of him.
I was finally able to put into words what I couldn't say then.
That shadow box was never meant for you or for I to keep. I didn't put my heart into making them only to keep them for myself. Please put C's box in a safe place so that someday when he grows up he will have it.
To remember that he once was very small and that his mama loved him very much.