Why Can’t We Do It Together? (An Honest Reflection on the D.I.Y. Revolution)

If I can toot my own horn for a second, I think I can do a few things pretty well.  I make a mean chicken and dumplings, for one.  I have brought many a plant back from certain death.  I can make my kid giggle so much her face turns purple and she can’t speak more than two words at a time.  I’m literary.  I’m fairly musical.  Mainly punctual.

You know what I’m not?


You heard me.

I’m a SAHM who refuses to watch HGTV.

It’s boring.

I do not have a craft room.

I don’t want to see yours.

I can’t sew.

I don’t knit.

I’m not obsessed with chalk paint.

I don’t want to refinish my end tables in an aqua milk paint on my Saturday off.

I buy flowers for the house, but my husband arranges them.  I’ll buy decor, but it’s my sister who decorates.   It’s beyond out of my league or comfort zone- I loathe it.  I have a burning, Harry Potter-esque reaction to the words, “We can MAKE that!”

Aside from my natural proclivities, I can’t help but wonder about all those poor, educationally specialized folks we’ve put out of work simply because we feel the need to be our own Bob Vela.  (Remember Bob Vela? Did I just date myself? Is that even how you spell it? That’s a good sign, right? That I’m not sure?).   Where have all the interior designers gone? Seamstresses? Handy-men? Have we forced them into a miserable early retirement waiting tables at the Cheesecake Factory simply because we are self-centered enough to believe that we can do it better ourselves? When did an extra 5 hours in the day turn up in order to tackle all of the endless mason jar projects on Pinterest that will only fester and mold and become lovely little glass houses for the mice in my basement?

I have had enough.  I am taking a stand.  I will not be guilted into making quilts with the scraps of clothing my kid wore as a baby.  Why? Not because I don’t love my kid, or her little baby smell or that polka dot jumper she wore only twice before she exploded mustard baby poop all over the back but because who has TIME for that shit? I’d rather pay somebody in endless pans of veggie lasagna who loves to do it and who’s good at it.  That way I know it’ll have the four corners it’s supposed to, and not unravel as soon as it hits the New Jersey humidity.  And I can have that time back to do something fun- like read, or play the piano or ANYTHING ELSE BUT THAT.

But, look, just because I hate being crafty doesn’t mean you do.  I’m giving you permission to dispel any part of the D.I.Y. revolution that’s nauseating to you.  Cracking under the pressure to can your own tomatoes? Don’t do it.  By the time you buy all the supplies, the twenty good tomatoes you have left lingering in your garden will be enough to fill 3/4 of one jar.  Cozy up to the San Marzano aisle and be on your way.  Feel like a terrible Mama for not handcrafting educational toys designed specially by you to encourage intellectual benchmarks and fine motor skills but you’re afraid of the ban saw and you’re not even really sure what the tern “benchmark” means, and what’s the different between fine and gross again, but who really cares as long as you drop the terms in the play date over coffee with other Mamas? Give your kid a bowl of uncooked macaroni.  Tell him macaroni starts with “M”.   Shape an M with the macaroni, and then walk away and see how long it takes him to dump it on the floor, try to eat it or stuff it up his nose, pour it into some other vessel like your flower pots, and mix it around on the floor to make you a “cake”.  An hour of entertainment, no assembly or heavy equipment necessary.

Lastly, it’s so blatantly American to sell an individualized movement- D.I.Y.  I don’t need your help! I can do everything ourselves!  Everything!  It’s bologna. We’re all not supposed to be good at the same things, nor were we ever meant to do things on our own.  Teach your kids that by modeling that belief.  No, really.  If you act like you’re SuperMama, your kid will grow up thinking she has to be one, too- and you’re not.  You can’t be- neither can I.  And then we’ll have another generation of burned out Mamas, sneaking 5 minutes away to cry in the bathroom about how she couldn’t make her own owl party favors for her daughter’s first birthday party.  Start now.  Make a meal for a cooking challenged Mama in exchange for the mending of your favorite overalls.  Help out a sister with some decorating, and offer to tutor her son in reading.  We can’t do it all ourselves- not even close.

But we can do it together.



3 thoughts on “Why Can’t We Do It Together? (An Honest Reflection on the D.I.Y. Revolution)

  1. Well spoken! Couldn’t stand by this post enough! By the way, I love chalk paint. Which is why I have my husband paint my furniture with it. Hey, can’t be all things! Thanks for writing this, Jenny!

  2. I totally agree with this sentiment, while I also think that your cooking is your DIY art form. I would attempt to crochet an iPad case before ever attempting a veggie lasagna. And I can decorate the crap out of a cake but don’t make me bake it! Good word. (May I tell you the part that made me giggle though? “Baloney” is the word you are looking for. Otherwise your readers are wondering who the heck does a DIY bologna.) Love to you!

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