Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mothers are Makers and Innovators

Mothers are makers, innovators and designers. This realization struck me today as I watched Dale Dougherty's TED talk on making, yet again. Certainly we think like innovators, designers and makers. Ever been part of a design charrette? There is a time restraint. There are limits. And you need to solve a problem-actually you often have to solve a complex, multi-layered problem:  a real-world problem.

When I had my first daughter over 23 years ago, I had never changed a diaper, held a newborn, or fed a baby. And yet, they sent me home from the hospital after 32 hours with my infant. I was totally unprepared. Sure, the nurses gave me a few tips while I was still in the hospital, but, let's face it, I was unable to take it all in: I had been in labor for over 16 hours.

Here was a real-world problem: how to take care of this baby that didn't speak and was unable to care for itself. There was a lot at stake. I was exhausted. The baby cried all night and slept all day. I had to figure this out.

So, what did I do? I went to the experts. I was lucky enough to live in a neighborhood of close knit young families. There were experts right outside my door. And they were full of ideas and advice. Thank God. These woman and I talked and shared ideas and commiserated. They became my life-line. And I learned to care for this tiny being that couldn't care for herself.

Women have been doing this for centuries. They organize playgroups and share advice and ideas. They help one another when mothering is new. They share recipes, solutions and resources. When a baby is crying, there is only one thought in a mother's head: how do I solve this problem? Women are resourceful and innovative. They have to be.

Remember when being a "homemaker" was a backhanded insult? We need to embrace our roles as makers. We make a home for our children. We make meals. We make Halloween costumes, curtains, and quilts. We make things on a daily basis.

So to all the women out there who say you aren't creative, I want you to ask yourself: what was the last meal you made; dinner table you set; costume you created; cookies you baked? These are creative acts. Making is one of the ways we express our love for our families and our children. It is a satisfying experience that is fulfilling and brings pleasure to ourselves as well as others. Women have been doing this making for centuries. Our daughters will continue on after us. Let's recognize the resourcefulness, inventiveness, and creativeness in all of us.