Johanna Garton

Writer and Journalist

Know Thy Strengths

I’m never going to learn how to knit.

There.  I said it. 

My mother gave me a beginner’s knitting kit about six years ago, and it’s still sitting in a basket next to the side of the bed.  I keep thinking that I’ll have time to dive into this new endeavor, but the truth is, if I haven’t made time in six years, will I ever?  Wouldn’t I make time if it were really something important to me?  Prioritizing this way is one matter if it comes to issues relative to myself, but when it comes to matters involving the children, it feels entirely different.  I fixate on the things I’m not good at. 

I’m passionate about supporting their sports activities, arranging play dates and helping them with homework.  Yet it takes a herculean effort for me to stop what I’m doing in the middle of the day and go volunteer for lunch duty with fifty second graders.

I need to be better about volunteering for lunch duty. 

One thing I’m okay at is traveling.  Something we can do…together.  I suppose the kind of traveling we’ve done as a family so far has looked a little…non traditional.  I still hope it can provide benefit to the kids in years to come.

I should also remind myself that the litmus test for their personal growth might not be relative to how excited they are for a particular adventure.

This morning I went downstairs holding a globe in my hands.  A cheap, plastic version that still shows Yugoslavia before its split.  I spun the thing around a few times, trying to be dramatic as I unveiled the summer trip I planned to take them on. 

“Where’s it gonna be guys?  Where’s Mom taking you next?  Pick a place!  Any place.”

Eden looked enthralled.  Will looked…bored.

“Is it a Disney cruise, Mom?” asked Will.

“Nope.  It’s definitely NOT a Disney cruise, Will.  A Disney cruise isn’t a destination.  It’s just…consumerism.  We’ll do that another time.  For now, drop your finger.  Let’s see if you get close.”

Eden’s finger reached out and stopped the globe from spinning. 

She landed on Mexico. 

“Nope, sorry Eden.  Too close to home.  We’re going a little further than that.” 

I spun the globe again and Will pressed into it, his finger landing on Kansas. 

“Kansas???  Ah….That’s a beautiful state, but that’s not it either.”

“Where?  Where are we going, Mom?!”  Eden squealed

“Iceland!”  I shouted.  “We’re going to Iceland!”

“Iceland?  What’s there?”  Will looked bemused at best. 

“Well for one thing, there are these awesome geothermal pools where we can swim.  And then there’s this HUGE waterfall.  And puffins.  Puffin breeding grounds.  You guys there are SOO many puffins.”

“What’s a puffin?”  Eden wondered. 

“It’s kind of like a penguin.  But penguins live in the South Pole.  Iceland is north,” answered Will.

“We’re going to the North Pole!”  Eden was as giddy as I’d hoped she’d be.  

“Mom…seriously…you’re taking us to the North Pole.  In summer?” 

Will…not so much giddy.

I guess the whole experience has reminded me once again that it’s important to know your strengths.  Embracing them if you can. 

I may never learn how to knit, but gosh do I love hauling my kids to unconventional corners of the globe.

But now that Iceland is on the radar screen, knitting may need to be…. revisited.