Article by Claire Gibbs – Claire’s Crafts
I’m Claire 38 (sadly nearly 39) married for 17 years with two lovely sons, Jack, nearly 13 and Alfie, just turned 9. My boys are my everything and whilst as a mother that’s just how I want it to be, it also means quite literally I had let motherhood become my complete self. I’d always planned it that way, I would stop working when I had my first child and go back when they had started full time school. I had also planned to have two children by the age of about 25, but of course life isn’t that straight forward. I’ve had 9 pregnancies and only two went full term. I think this is part of the reason why I have thrown myself sooo deeply into motherhood as it was something I began to fear was out of my reach.
I’m originally from Suffolk, down in East Anglia, but have lived up in Derbyshire for 18 years. When Jack was born I suddenly had all I wanted, but also a nice hefty dose of post natal depression to go with it and no family support system around me. It’s only when I left work as a nursery nurse that I realised I knew no one. Everyone was busy going to and from work daily just as I had been and suddenly here I was with a difficult baby (sorry Jack) and felt so low and alone. After another 5 failed pregnancies I finally gave birth to my second son Alfie. I felt ‘slightly’ more in control this time round as through meeting people through Jack and running a local toddler group I didn’t feel so alone. Time flew by and soon Alfie too had started full time school…and here was my time to go back to work. *Gulp*.
I realised that I had done nothing (well apart from bring up two boys and run my own toddler group for a while); nothing that future employees tend to see as ‘work’ anyway.
I would look at application forms and dread how to fill the void from 1999 to present day. I didn’t think, post natal depression, nappies, vomit, slowly losing my marbles and knowing all the theme tunes from cbeebies to be much to work with in their eyes….and who could blame them!
3 years ago I finally took a part time position in the local school where my boys attend, a school that I once held a position as a nursery nurse, but was now taking a midday supervisor role. However, when the children went back to school after the summer holidays in Sept 2011, I handed in my notice on the first day. I worked till the start of October then left.
I was suffering from depression which comes and goes, but I was really struggling at that time, so felt it better to leave. Although I felt a weight had been lifted off my shoulders by leaving – though I still put myself down for the relief list- I also knew I couldn’t go back into the void of watching the same four walls and going slightly mad.
I love taking photos, usually slightly quirky things, but never really knew what to do with them and this just frustrated me and fed the ‘you can’t do anything, you’re useless’ feeling. Christmas was nearing and I thought Id busy my mind with some crafts and made a few felt Christmas tree decorations; I still don’t really know what made me do that, as I’ve never been one to stitch! Whilst at primary school I once made a snowman and spent so much time holding it close to me whilst sewing that when I stood up I’d actually stitched it to my jumper! – This is my level of working with needle and thread!
I did however make some decorations and I made far too many and someone suggested I make a facebook page to sell them on. I eventually did after much persuasion, but kept it to myself so that when it all failed I didn’t have to let anyone know, however I wasn’t prepared for the way it’s really taken off.
I’ve always enjoyed creative things, I can’t say I’ve ever had any belief in them though, what I see in my mind, isn’t always how it turns out, whether it be on paper, photography or fabric; sometimes I find this so frustrating. With the felt decorations though, things pretty much turned out how I wanted them too which made a nice change, but felt is such a forgiving fabric I find!
I would urge anyone who is unsure, stuck in a rut, feels ‘I can’t’, just to try. You don’t have to aim for big scale things, aim small and slow, don’t pressure yourself. I personally found that keeping it all to myself gave me much less pressure as if it all went wrong, I didn’t have to let anyone know. I’m so glad I started the facebook page first as I’ve found it a really supportive community of crafters. There have been a couple of very small issues that have cropped up but nothing that outweighs the overwhelming support I’ve found from others who are just like me, scared stiff and really don’t know what they are doing! It’s so easy to assume everyone has been doing this years and is sailing through knowing just what they are doing and doing it to perfection, but I was pleased to see that this wasn’t always the case. It’s been so much more fun going on this journey with others who are doing just the same.
Even if you don’t want to take it to the level of selling things, I found just by doing something, something for me, something that I could actually see, that I had achieved in the day, rather than spending the day doing daily housework that within ten minutes of everyone arriving home it felt like I’d done nothing, the washing baskets were once more full, the house a mess and it was time to cook dinner and make tomorrows packed lunches, it felt very much like groundhog day.
Whilst of course this is mostly still what I do, I also have this, my own little ‘thing’ something that I can say, I’ve done that. It’s been such a lovely feeling to get feedback from customers who have been so pleased with their items and to know someone has hung something in their house, or given as a gift. While I make them I’m generally sat worrying about them as I stitch, “will they like it, is it as good as it should be, will it get ruined in the post.” It makes is so worthwhile to hear how much they liked the items.
Best of all is when people ask my children ‘what does your Mum do’, rather than the, ‘nothing’ that they’ve given as a solid answer for years, they now say. ‘She’s setting up her own craft business’.
I know I’ve often read how people say that if they can do it then anyone can, but I still sit and think, hmmm, but you’re not me, I really can’t. But I have. I’m still waiting for it to all fall flat on its face to be honest. I’m hoping one day that I’ll get over the ‘it’s bound to fail’ issues. I even worry about what if it DOES get bigger, how will I cope? I guess I’m just a born worrier.
All you can do is try, do something you enjoy, maybe something you used to do years ago, or that something you’ve been meaning to give a try but are just too busy. If you do, I’d love you to drop by my page and say hello, I would love to share the support that I’ve been given too.
Good luck :)
Find me on Facebook www.facebook.com/handmadewithhugs
This is the same flickr page, but takes you to a photo that is all about my lack of self belief; I hope it would show people that I really AM that unsure of myself http://www.flickr.com/photos/clairegibbs/5925347391/in/photostream
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