Those last few posts have been a little intense, so let’s do one that’s a little more light hearted, shall we?
Author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. I’ve heard this thrown around a lot and it’s even in a Macklemore song I really like. In fact, listening to that song a few times on my recent 12 hour driving trip with my family is what got me thinking about this in the first place.
But how long is 10,000 hours, anyway? I mean, that’s just too big of a number for me to really wrap my head around when it comes to time. Well, it translates to about 1 year and 52 days straight. What have I done for the equivalent of a year and 2 months?!?! And would I really consider myself a master of those things?
Well, I’ve probably spent somewhere around that amount of time doing laundry over the course of my life. And I’m totally a master at running things through a washer and dryer. I’ve only dyed 1 load pink with that evil, sneaky red towel. I’ve absolutely mastered listening to music, what with how easy and passive that is. Hmm…what else…oh, pregnancy! With 5 kids, that means I have spent about 3 3/4 years on successful pregnancies. While I’m not a master of all pregnancies, I can probably say that I’m a master at my own.
But none of those things are actual things I’ve had to work at. They’re kinda things that just happen while you’re living life. So what have I actually worked at that I can claim mastery over?
Reading is the first one that comes to mind. I’ve been reading voraciously since I was little. I literally ready everyday. And I’m not talking about reading facebook comments or road signs (though, I’m sure those count toward the overall total). I’m talking about reading books. Despite having a host of children and little to no time to myself, I read at least 1 chapter of a book everyday. I love reading. Getting lost in a book is one of my greatest non-parenting joys.
Breastfeeding is another thing I’ve mastered. And, no, that one doesn’t fall under the previous header of “things that just happen.” I had to work at it. In fact, I consider myself a failure at breastfeeding my 1st child. I tried and tried and saw specialists and consultants. I ended up so engorged that I was prescribed a hospital grade pump. After 3 months (which is actually pretty impressive), I couldn’t do it anymore. It was too hard, too painful, and turning into an experience where I resented my daughter for it. I’m a firm believer in nursing for as long as it’s good for both you and your baby and with my 1st baby that was only 3 months. My 2nd was 1 year. My 3rd and 4th were over 2 years. My 5th was just under 2 years. After nursing 3 toddlers, 2 of them through pregnancies and into tandem nursing, I can say that I’m a master at it.
I’ve also probably been sewing for close to 10,000 hours of my life, if not more. My mom can sew and she taught my sister and I when we were kids. I had one set of sewing lessons (30 minutes per day for 4 days) when I was 8 years old, in which I learned how to follow a pattern (I made shorts), make a 9-patch pillow, and ad lib a scrunchy. After that, I was off and running. I made a dress with my mom. I made pants with my sister. When I was 10, I designed and made my own shirts. A few years later, I made my first quilt. I’ve made bedding, clothes, diapers, stuffed animals, headbands, baby carriers…I can literally sew anything that can be sewn at this point. And I love to sew! I’ve got 4 sewing machines right now (I burn through them pretty quickly). Persephone has her own sewing machine. Dimitrios has a junior sewing machine that Calandra is always trying to use. Theron likes to sit on my lap and help sew. The only child who hasn’t gotten my sewing bug is Lucius, but he likes the way the machine works. 🙂
So, it looks like I’m technically a master of the things that I love. Wait. That’s not right. I hate laundry. But the children, the reading, and the sewing I totally love. I don’t know that I’d really consider it a mastery over those things, though. I’m fully willing to admit that I’ve got a lot more to learn about everything.
Except the laundry. Unfortunately, I’ve got that down.