I come from a long line of "makers." My mom and I
sew, quilt, knit and cross-stitch, so I am not surprised that my
daughter Emma shows a natural propensity to make things. As a
veteran crafter at age 8, she knits, crochets and weaves. She
assembles little journals and covers them with drawings. She
collects buttons, fabric and yarn. She adds a little extra flair to
everything she owns.
What shocks me is the flip side of all this creativity-the
I don't think my childhood crafts resulted in this much
chaos, although my mother chuckles knowingly every time I complain.
Throughout my house, the Mess spills across every horizontal
surface-tables, couches, chairs, and even the floor. We routinely
gather it up for recycling or organize it in various bags and
boxes, but to no avail. The Mess returns again and again, like an
unwanted houseguest who shows up all too soon for another extended
My daughter never sees the Mess in the same light as I do.
To her, it's an offshoot of her artistic vision rather than another
task on my cleaning checklist. The Mess never gets on her nerves,
unless it hides her scissors under its cloak of discarded paper.
While she concocts her latest craft, it spreads a jumble of paper
bits, yarn fluff and broken crayon tips around her.
As two halves of the creative process, the Maker and the
Mess are quite content together.
I'm constantly conflicted by this strange pairing of
crafting and clutter. On the one hand, the Mess makes me crazy. I
hate straightening up the same area over and over. I tire of
telling Emma to put her things away because we need to use the
dining room table.
And when other people drop by unexpectedly, I'm
embarrassed that my living room looks like a confetti cannon
exploded there moments before.
On the other hand, I want to encourage her to pursue these
creative paths. I think her artistic hobbies help her to relax and
find her true passions in life. If she enjoys folding paper into
Star Wars characters and gluing googly eyes on pom-poms, I'm all
More importantly, crafting provides me a way to connect
with my child. As Emma and I curl up on the couch, knitting needles
clicking away, we talk not just about yarn and scarves but also
about her life, her dreams and her fears.
I'm grateful that she likes to create things with me
because it gives us a line of communication that I will hold on to
for dear life as she grows up.
So I've come to realize that as long as we have crafters
in the house, the Mess is here to stay.
I'll never stop trying to contain it, you understand, but
it's a small price to pay for forging this deep connection to my
daughter. A small price indeed.
Joan Sampey is a Glen Ellyn mom. She blogs at
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