Many of my friends know that I make many of my Christmas gifts. They ask me how in the world I have time to do it. After all, I have six kids and a very busy life. My reply: I don't have time not to do it. Last year, I was really struggling. Caring for six children--three of whom have significant special needs as a result of the abuse and neglect they received at the hands of their birth parents--is a full-time job, plus some. One of my children acts out on the big feelings she doesn't have the framework to process. 98% of her aggression is directed at me. Not a huge surprise, as her mother was her primary abuser. Even though I know this, it doesn't take all the sting out of the venom she spits (and punches and kicks) at me. Years of being the target wears a mommy down. Last year at this time, I had expended all the energy and emotion I had, and I was sinking fast. Frayed, frazzled, battered were the best words to describe me. Then I talked about it with my friend Erin, who also has a child like mine, but is a few years ahead of me in the process. She encouraged me to do some things to take care of myself, even if it means putting some other things on the back burner.
I heeded her advice and sat down with Matt to discuss how I could better care for myself. I stepped back from most of my church responsibilities. I stopped volunteering at the kids' school. I started taking a twice-per-week karate class (which I am madly in love with). I also moved crafting to high on my priority list. That was the biggest factor in caring for myself. Why?
1. I love to make things. Since I was very little, I've loved to make things. When I was two, my mom and another mom with a daughter my age got together weekly for Annette and Emily Day. They cooked with us and did crafts. I can remember sitting in Auntie Leslie's lap sewing a tiny apron for my doll. We made felt Christmas banners. When I was 6, my Granny started sewing lessons with me. I learned to cross stitch at age 8. Throughout the years, I learned many other crafty things, such as making my own stencils, flower arranging, crocheting, and decoupage. As an adult, my love of crafting has grown. I can sew or crochet just about anything. I taught myself quilting. I draw and paint. I make cards and scrapbook. This Christmas I decided to learn wood burning and metal stamping.
2. Crafting is my therapy. When I sit down and make pretty things, it calms and quiets me. The creative process is so important to me.
3. I am a giver. Nothing makes me happier than making something to give away. I love to give, and when I give something handmade, it satisfies and fulfills me. It's my way of expressing love and appreciation for the person to whom I'm giving.
So I make time to craft. It's honestly what keeps me sane some days. Today I have a lot to do. I need to ship boxes of Christmas gifts to my family in California and Washington, and Wednesday is my deadline to do so. The dishes in my kitchen sink will have to wait. I'm going to throw some chicken in the crock pot, put on Mickey Mouse for Sweet Pea, and get working. I'm very excited, and it promises to be a very fun day for me. And when the kids get home from school, they will be greeted by a mommy whose emotional tank is fully loaded and ready to go.