We went to playgroup at my friend's house this week, Stella, Hugo and I. When we arrived, the children scattered, while the mums sat around the dining room table, admiring the Easter cookies decorated in muted shades and trimmed with the most delicate icing. The room was dressed in its Easter finest; seasonal pillows, an Easter tree; a bowl of hand painted eggs. It was lovely, a cultural beacon offering up remembrances of springs long ago when snow melted, crocuses pushed through the dirt, and families came round.
I thought, then, of my own house: no freshly baked cookies; seasonal ornaments still packed away in the storage room upstairs; no pastel springtime craft; no bonnets, no baskets, no cotton ball bunnies.
In my imagination, however, I had crafted and baked and educated my children about the cultural and religious significance of the holiday. In my imagination there were hot cross buns, hand dyed eggs, and Easter dresses.
But in reality, it’s Good Friday, and I have done exactly none of the above. Instead of searching Pinterest for preschooler craft ideas, I’ve been passing my days at once incredibly busy, and unbelievably idle, running around Jakarta and lazing on the beanbag chair with my three-year-old.
And this year, for once, I’m glad of that.
It’s not my lot in life to be a maker of cotton ball crafts, a baker of seasonal treats, or a festooner of mantels. Nor am I the kind of mum who always has a change of clothes, a pack of wet wipes, and a well-balanced snack at the ready. Instead, you’ll find old receipts and loose change from three countries ago rattling around the bottom of my diaper bag (whether or not I actually have a diaper in there is questionable). I won’t be on time for playgroup, I have no idea when my daughter’s school breaks for Easter Holiday, and don’t ask me which vaccines she’s had, because damned if I know. I’m not crafty, bakerly, or particularly organised. That’s just not where my skills, interests or, frankly, talents lie.
Instead, I hop on a train in a developing country, dragging along my pre-schooler and my one-month-old baby. I traverse unworkable sidewalks with a kid under each arm. I hail taxis, take public busses, and occasionally, hop on the back of a three-wheeled tuk-tuk. I travel down the coast of China with only my one-year-old as company. I fly across the oceans alone with my girl more times than I can count on two hands. I’ve backpacked with my two-year-old, missed a train and instead caught a bus of questionable road worthiness on the side of the road in the back of beyond Central Java, with minimal fret or upset. I’m a mum who’s not afraid to open the front door and get right out into our wild and wonderful world, with my kids along for the ride.
I've started to think that every mum has a set of skills and talents that that shape her children’s childhoods. Some mums create magical holidays; some are expert memory keepers; some make artful pictures of their children; some create birthday treasures out of thin air; some are unbelievable crafters; some make beautifully healthful family meals; some create engaging educational activities. And me? My mum talent getting out there, traveling, seeing, and doing together with my kids.
So this Easter, we don’t have decorated eggs or actually any easter eggs to speak of now that I think of it. But I’m not going to feel fault for that. I am not going to wish pastel garlands or spring wreaths. Instead, I’ll organise a haphazard easter egg hunt (random Indonesian candies instead of eggs, okay!) and hold close those memories of taking Hugo on his first train jouney at eight weeks old. And that’s just the way it is, and, actually, the way I like it.
Now how ‘bout you? What’s your mum talent? And how are you embracing it?