Once upon a time, there was a Manual Labor Mom, who was fully aware of her uncrafty, disorganized, anti-domestic limitations. She went along her merry way, performing her manual labors happily, feeling satisfied that she tried her hardest and gave her best. Even so, there were times when it seemed a little irritatingly perfect Room Mom was trapped inside of her, nagging at her in a nasally, uppity, country-clubbish voice, insisting that if the Manual Labor Mom pushed herself, she could be the Room Mom she was truly destined to be.
One day, about a week before Christmas, after the Manual Labor Mom had already maxed out her short supply of creativity on decorating the inside and outside of her imperfect home for Christmas, her mother-in-law showed up with a fancy box full of two thousand pieces of gingerbread with which she intended to construct a Gingerbread Model Home with her three grandsons. This kind of project was NOT in the Manual Labor Mom’s wheelhouse, so she carefully avoided the Gingerbread House Construction Site.
After the Foreman Mother-in-Law and her little construction crew were laboring for about 30 minutes, Manual Labor Mom peeked in to find there were some Gingerbread Model Home structural issues (i.e., the house was not standing and therefore would not be a fit dwelling for even a Vagrant Gingerbread Man-or-Woman). Manual Labor Mom stepped in and humbly suggested that some Gorilla Glue or perhaps even duct tape could be the answer to this erectile dysfunctional problem. Father-in-Law strenuously objected to the Gorilla Glue suggestion (being as it was now a family debate) because if a stray drop should wander upon the kitchen table, the family would have a lifelong curse upon them. Nay, not even a layer of well-placed magical newspaper would save them from this curse. (He, like Manual Labor Mom’s husband, was very much a prisoner to his OCD).
Manual Labor Mom could see that her poor, well-meaning, but overly-ambitious Foreman Mother-in-Law was feeling defeated, and these types of crises were just the sort in which Manual Labor Mom excelled. She ran upstairs to get her hair dryer, downstairs to grab the Gorilla Glue, and back to the Construction Site, which was now abandoned by everyone but the Foreman. Manual Labor Mom administered the glue and then operated the hairdryer while the Foreman held together the Model Home. When it was standing on its own, though wobbly, Manual Labor Mom suggested that the glue would harden faster outside in the freezing winter winds, and placed the Model Home on the patio, where it stayed all night long.
The next morning, the whole family awoke to find that the Model Home was structurally sound! Sadly, the Foreman had to depart to her village that morning, and that meant Manual Labor Mom was stuck with the horrific task of decorating the Model Home to the specifications of perfection depicted on the cardboard box from whence it came. Her children were bubbling with excitement and anticipation, tossing aside their construction crew hard hats and replacing them with little artsy berets.
The Manual Labor Mom started perspiring as she got out all the colorful gumdrops, sour balls, M&Ms, pinwheels, and candy canes meant for embellishing the Model Home. The icing bag was ready to be squeezed (to death), and the little gingerbread man, snowman, and Christmas tree were waiting for their sugary adornments. Like Hansel & Gretel, the Manual Labor Mom wanted to turn away and run, screaming and crying, before the Model Home could open its gaping jaws and eat her alive. But that’s not what she did. She sat down, wiped her brow, gathered her team of artists around her, and got to work.
Her artists, popping candy in their mouths at will, soon started to lose their minds, like many artists do. But instead of chopping off their own ears, they were doing other crazy things like giving the gingerbread man three eyes, bumping their elbows into the freshly iced roof, and insisting that the Model Home’s door did not need a doorknob.
Manual Labor Mom tried to stay calm, but she could hear the Room Mom louder and louder in her head, screaming in a shrill voice: “These insane animals you gave birth to are RUINING this Model Home! It is going to look like one of the hell holes you grew up in if you don’t stop them!” And Manual Labor Mom, not wanting the Model Home to fall to this cruel fate, started yelling at her artists, telling them they needed to decorate the Model Home the right way, or they would all be fired.
The oldest artist, his face crestfallen, his lower lip protruding, said: “It doesn’t have to be perfect, Manual Labor Mommy. We’re just having fun.”
Manual Labor Mom, fighting tears and fantasizing about taking a metal pipe to the Room Mom, Tonya Harding style, gave her oldest artist a hug. She apologized to all her artists, and agreed that the Model Home absolutely did NOT need to be perfect, but that it WOULD be beautiful, just because they were making it. She moved out of the way, and let her artists try their hardest and do their best (knowing she would have to do a lot of vacuuming later). And they all lived happily, and imperfectly, ever after.