I can think of dozens of things I’ve learned to do as a mom. Things I never pictured myself doing before I became a mom. Things I didn’t even know were “a thing.”
Like running a “cake walk,” for instance. That’s a thing. It’s like musical chairs meets a raffle, except no one loses a spot during the rounds. I’ve run four of these things now as fundraisers, and I’ve learned that you need a good amount of space, lively music, a lively host, a microphone, and some strong tape. Oh, and cakes. Lots of cakes.
I’ve learned that even though you start each round with one person to a number, and you don’t take any numbers away, people will walk around the circle as if a number may disappear at any moment; they step from number to number as if the space between them is a large abyss they’ll fall into.
I’ve learned that it’s a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. And that when I have asked people to donate cakes or cupcakes, I’ve met with so many positive responses that it makes me feel good to volunteer my time.
I’ve learned how to run a PTA as president; not very well, but I did it. For one year. One. Long. Year. And I also learned in a very real way that you can’t please everyone, no matter what you do.
I’ve learned how to organize box tops collections and submissions for our district’s two elementary schools (approximately 1500 students). Before I was a parent, I thought those “box tops” on packages were cute little coupons. (“You mean they are really worth ten cents each?!”) I’ve learned what 14,000 box tops look like lined up in bags of 50 on my basement floor.
I learned how to run a school store, while being PTA president and organizing box top collections. I learned a new definition of “busy” and my family was ready to renounce all connections to me.
I’ve learned how to run an informal concession stand at school concerts and plays.
I’ve learned how tricky it can be to use the “clicker” to count people as they come to a much-anticipated musical at the high school and pass out programs at the same time. (See “Crowd Control.”)
I learned how to make DIY Halloween costumes. And I learned when to say “when.”
I learned how to create a hyperlink on my blog. See what I just did there?
I can teach a teenager how to drive and also teach her how to crochet. But I’m not sure which one is more difficult.
I’ve learned how to catch a baseball with a glove, an impressive feat for someone who didn’t play sports as a child. And I’ve learned how to rake out a Little League infield after using a “puddle sponge” to sop up water at first and third base.
I’ve learned that grilling hamburger patties from a frozen state during a Little League All Star tournament can be very frustrating.
I can interpret and follow Lego directions pretty well.
I’ve learned that GPS is my best friend when driving into Boston. Because I’m that person who can’t remember which way to turn when exiting a store inside the mall. Driving in any city has always been terrifying for me.
But I’ve also learned that I can get over that fear.
Because of my Oldest Daughter, I know what scoliosis looks like. I’ve learned how to put a scoliosis brace on her, and how to teach others to put that brace on her. I learned that 18-20 hours a day to wear a brace can seem impossibly long. But because of her, I also know what real strength of spirit, real resilience, looks like.
Backstage at dance competitions over the years, I figured out how to sew up a hole in fishnet stockings while someone was wearing them, and how to face paint a dozen lions in less than 20 minutes.
Thanks to YouTube, I know how to hem a pair of pants. I’ve also learned to sew ribbons and elastics on a pair of pointe shoes. And how to take them out and re-sew them. And take them out and sew them again. I’ve learned how to not bleed on the pointe shoes when I’m sewing them, and that the thimble is my other best friend.
Before I was a mom, I didn’t know that inanimate objects, like a thimble and GPS, could be my best friends.
I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I thought I was, and that I can always learn new things (like tap dancing). I’ve also learned that there are things beyond my control, things that I can’t master or “fix”, and that is just as important to teach my kids.
I’ve learned that Moms are a work in progress. We learn. We fail. We make mistakes. We pull ourselves together and learn some more. It’s what we do. And we have developed a wicked set of skills over the years.
I’ve learned that if you want something done, put a group of Moms together in a room. We will figure it out. It will get done.