I have the penmanship of a pre-pubescent juvenile delinquent incarcerated for setting his family on fire.
This may be one of the reasons "thank you" notes terrify me, because nothing -- from the handwriting, to the stationary, to the salutation, to the content -- will be right. You will wonder why a psychotic boy is thanking you for the lovely... thing you can't decipher.
When it comes to the cedar-scented hope chest of girlie skills, mine is empty.
I could get away with it before being a mother, but now, I am asked almost daily to apply skills I never learned. There are the aforementioned thank-you notes for toddler birthday gifts, but that is the beginning.
Girlie girls, let me tell you: things you take for granted knowing, I struggle to comprehend.
You put up decals on your child's wall without incident. You understand duvet covers require things called "inserts." You know what kind of snacks to put out for a play date, and in what sorts of bowls. Even the least girlie of you likely have the ability to knock out two to three go-to meals. You look at a room and know immediately where the floor lamp should go.
Before I became a mother, no one judged me for sending a thank you card three months late on a "Welcome to Philadelphia" postcard.
No one expected me to select a tasteful train table in a size that wouldn't block the door.
If I crammed photos in a sad, weird, faded accordion file box, you wouldn't judge me. You might even find it charming. Now that I have procreated, it's not cute and it's not okay. I have the social graces of Jodie Foster in the movie "Nell," about a "wild child" raised in the woods that never interacted with people and couldn't really speak English.
Unfortunately, considering my own mother, I might have been better off in a forest.
Sorry for saying this, but it's true: her taste was so gauche it's almost impossible to describe my childhood home. Suffice to say, there were grotesque African masks on the walls, mismatched batik silk scarves hung poorly in the hallways and most days, crusted, days-old food clinging to a pan on the back burner.
So, forgive me if I can't choose a China pattern.
It's the moms who do most of this social graces stuff, let's face it.
When you get a thank you card, it's from a mom, generally. When a container comes out of diaper bag with cubes of watermelon, a mom probably packed it. My girlie skills edge out my husband's only barely, but that fact, plus the social contract that exists between women, between couples, between moms, whether I like it or not, dictates that the sitter's gift will be selected and wrapped by me.
Most parent correspondence is mom to mom. I will struggle to simulate a normal human female response to texts and emails from other moms. I will get so nervous about responding to a text from another mom, I will accidentally not return it for three days. My fear of being Nell makes me even more Nell-like.
If I died, perhaps as a result of eating my own cooking or getting an aneurysm from attempting to read my own handwriting, I'm not sure how things would look at my house.
My husband would eventually figure out that all my son's pants were floods and he would replace them. One day, he would notice it was time for a new duvet cover. When the cover came, he would notice it needed an insert. He would figure all of this out without turning his heart into a collage of self-doubt and inferiority made with Elmer's glue and tears.
I guess my son would have bigger problems, what with me rolling a seven and all, but I'm pretty sure he would not have decals on his wall. And I'm pretty sure he wouldn't care.
I should really wrap this story up with a prettier bow, but as you already know, nothing I wrap looks pretty.