Stop. Don't read another word until you watch the video above. Trust me on this, it is important to the story and not just a chance to share my strange love of Kenny Rogers. Yes. You read that right. Kenny Rogers. When you grow up in a house where your parents were convinced that all modern music would lead to drug abuse, you learn to like Kenny Rogers, The Statler Brothers, and the Oakridge Boys. That, however, is another story.
"I Am The Greatest". Remember that song...it is important to my story.
As far back as I can remember, I liked to be doing something. I really don't think it mattered what I did, but I was always doing something. I couldn't sit still. This often included crazy things like dragging everything out of my closets and drawers and reorganizing it. Today we call that ADD or OCD or something with a D on the end of it. To me then, as it remains today, I thought it was fun to be busy.
Mostly though, a large part of my childhood years were spent making things. I learned to sew and did a lot of cross stitch and embroidery that my mom would then have framed. A couple of those things are still hanging in this house. I colored, painted and glued my way through my childhood. Oh and I can't forget latch hook and string art. I say can't forget because if you have ever nailed 500 tiny nails into a pattern and then spent countless hours winding thread around those nails until you form a picture, you don't forget it. Ever. That particular project won a grand champion ribbon at the state fair and for all of that work, I deserved it! The strings formed a picture of two mallards flying over cattails. It was beautiful and hung in my parent's den for years.
My desire to make things didn't stop at crafts. I loved cooking just as much. That was a bit more complicated though since the kitchen was my mother's domain. Trust me on this, if my mother was busy in the kitchen, your best bet was to stay out of the way. Don't ask questions and certainly don't get under her feet. There was important stuff going on there. So I learned to sit quietly in the chair and watch. I watched and I learned.
Are you wondering yet how this relates to the Kenny Rogers song? I Am The Greatest.
That is how I felt as a child. Everything I made was absolutely gorgeous because I thought it was. When my mother finally caved in and let me cook in her kitchen, everything I made tasted so good my Dad would ask for seconds.
Well, not exactly. If I am being honest here, then I have to tell you I wasn't always very good at what I was doing. At all.
I was allowed to cook mostly if my Mom wasn't going to be home. Even though my Mom was a teacher, she had to work several weeks into the summer on home projects with her students. Those were the weeks when the kitchen was mine. I would find elaborate recipes and get to work. Problem is, a lot of those recipes would flop. My solution. I would dump the food in the garbage can and start all over again. Sometimes I would spend all day working on a simple meal and dessert. On those days when my Mom came home, she developed a habit of checking the garbage can. Sometimes she would laugh, but mostly she would grumble about the waste, then add all of the ingredients I had used to her grocery list.
Singing, dancing, playing the piano. Sewing, drawing, painting, string art and latch hook. Growing vegetables. Cooking. A childhood full of things to do and learn. A childhood full of blunders, successes, and garbage cans full of wasted food. Gosh, it was terrific.
Fast forward 30 years and I find that I am still that child. Always busy. Making things. Trying new recipes. Although I do find that since I am now paying for the ingredients, I tend to make sure they don't end up in the garbage can.
Just like the boy in the song, there are days when I start out in the kitchen thinking I am greatest chef that ever lived. Then I realize it is just a pot roast, but still it is the greatest pot roast ever made in a crock pot. Then crafting, well lets just say I am a bit obsessed. I envision myself as an artist at the start of every project but the truth is, sometimes it looks like one of the kids did it. Still, "I Am The Greatest" plays in my head.
I hope my children learn from me that everything they try in life will not result in greatness. We may not always live up to our own visions of ourselves. That, more so than what others think of us, is what will keep us moving forward or standing still. They will have plenty of failures, but even more successes. The key is to never quit trying. To look at what you have accomplished and be proud, even if it isn't perfect. Even if you throw it in the garbage can, try it again.
Jason was standing watching me make a card the other night. I was carefully applying ink in a variety of colors. He just stared. I said, "What?" He said, "I am just trying to figure out what you are doing." I was kind of irritated. "Can't you see I am making something here?" "Oh. OK." Truthfully, he is catching on. I used to take everything I made to show him. I would ask him what he thought. He would say, "It's a card." UGH. He caught on, and now he says "Yeah, that's a great card!" (Emphasis on exclamation point) Even he knows I am the greatest. Ha! Ok. Not really, but he knows I am close!