This mother muses about hobbies, how they give us purpose, and how they helped her bond with her sons
It was my birthday the other day and I decided to reacquaint myself with the art of doing nothing by doing something I enjoy a lot, arts and crafts. Inspired by the coronation of King Charles III on May 5 and his declaration of a “no tiara policy”—very in touch—at the event and the subsequent use of floral headpieces by the Princess of Wales and her daughter Princess Charlotte, I began to make my own floral creation.
Years of attempting to do what I have never done before with some degree of failure and some very rewarding successes, I was confident in embarking on what seemed initially like a very daunting and laborious task. I soon realized all I needed were some party plastic crowns/tiaras (to be used as foundation for the headpiece), jewelry wire, Japanese cut beads, pearl beads, glitter, glue, glue gun, and some bits of scratch paper to make the leaves. You can look up beaded floral tutorials that best suit you and give it a try.
As in most endeavors, you gain confidence through experience. Often you won’t know you have the skills to do it until after doing it. A few years back, a friend called to ask if I had a brooch resembling the maple leaf. She was hosting something at the Canadian embassy and thought it would be a nice touch to wear something related to her country. Unfortunately, I didn’t have one but had this brilliant idea to make one for her, though I had never done a brooch before.
Oftentimes, we come up with ideas from God knows where and these streak take you places. It took me on a journey to figure out how to make a maple leaf brooch. I can sew and had thread, beads, and fabric so I just fell back on my skills as a burdadera or embroiderer. To me, getting myself into situations such as this is an exercise in problem solving. Thankfully, I have been successful, although there were time I thought I was delusional to embark on such great efforts.
For what it’s worth, it has helped me hone my sewing, embroidery, and problem-solving skills that have in many instances in my life has allowed me to earn a good (albeit temporary) living. People call it now a “side hustle.” Believe me, these side hustles like embroidered masks, tote bags, book covers, etc. all throughout my life have earned me more than I have ever done as a professional writer. But the fact remains, I do have my hobbies that have helped me both financially and emotionally for most of my life. As Frances N. Ahl says in his paper, Hobbies and the Leisure Time Problem, hobbies are “a means of using super energy and time in a manner that at least will not be harmful to society and will be useful to the individual.”
So this is probably the crux of every corner Marites out there: Too much idle time not doing anything.
Hobbies for kids are a very good thing too since they are forced to spend some time away from the computer. It gives them a chance to exercise and keep fit. My sons’ hobbies in sports since they were little have provided many wonderful experiences together, which I will cherish both because it taught them the value of keeping active. It has allowed all to forge lasting friendships and shared experiences between mom and sons and as a family.
On an even more serious note, my hobby has helped me cope mentally from stress like those generated by the recent pandemic and even today as I work on a book project with deadlines and constant editing and re-editing. Ahl points out that hobbies are also a way of “taking one’s mind of oneself.” Based on the number of reversable tote bags and bucket hats from sewn up retaso fabrics in the house, I pretty much spent a lot of my non-productive thoughts diverted. After seeing the line of bags, bucket hats, and other sewn “products” in a rack outside my study, my sister Milette exclaimed, “Wow! You really are stressed!” Luckily for me, diverting myself with a hobby in the midst of a project or projects helps me become more productive and mentally fresh. It’s like my mind goes on a mini vacation. Who knows when I retire (which is not that far away), I may just turn this hobby into a business, something I believe will keep me occupied in the twilight of my years. From what I gather, a lot of businesses are a result of hobbies turned to money generating endeavors. So, one never knows.
But I am waxing philosophical. I might just be in a mood.
In a few days I will be witnessing my 22-year-old march at his graduation ceremonies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. Where did the time go? In a few weeks he begins his internship at the Anonymous Gallery in New York and in September he enters as a graduate student at the University College London to take up Art Education, Culture, and Practice. Last night, it just dawned on me there would be nothing to hold him back. The leisurely time spent with him doing nothing (just being in the same house) has drawn to a close as he embarks on this new chapter in his life. I’m sure mothers have asked these questions, “How do I lure him back?” “When will I see him again?” He is due back this Christmas but with new friends and promises of new experiences, how can I can compete with that? For now, I will have to content myself with memories and, if that fails, past FB posts (I have been on FB since 2007) to look back on the many worthy times spent on leisure by myself or together with family and friends.