My stepdaughter Sarah has a stuffed bear called Fluffy that has been with her since she was a wee tot. Now that she’s 23, Fluffy has definitely seen better days. Over the years her grandmother patched Fluffy’s thinning “skin,” but the poor little bear was about to disintegrate. She mentioned taking it somewhere for repair, and I volunteered to give Fluffy a makeover. I’ve been documenting the process by taking photos as I go.
Here’s the problem: I don’t know what I’m doing.
I grew up sewing, and I even made two prom dresses, so it’s not that I don’t have any skill. But I’ve never repaired a stuffed bear before, and I feel a certain pressure to “do it right” since Sarah’s so fond of the darn thing. First, I couldn’t find any fabric that remotely resembled Fluffy’s original skin, so I went with something totally different: a tan fleece, soft to the touch and a color that’s reasonable for a bear. I’m keeping the original eyes, and a nose and mouth that were part of a previous repair job so that Fluffy can keep its face.
But now I’m sewing around the tail, and the tail itself is problematic. Worse, I need to decide which seams I’ll sew by hand as the bear suit goes on. I don’t want Fluffy to look like Frankenstein, but it would appear that yes, it will probably be the neck seam. Time for some decorative trim to cover it, perhaps?
I’m a writer, so I am used to not knowing what I am doing, but I’ve applied this awareness to the rest of my life as well. I am always winging it in the kitchen, making things up as I go along. I never seem to be able to follow a recipe without saying, “What if I replaced that ingredient with this one?” And God knows, when I became a stepmother to two kids in their senior year in high school, I definitely Did Not Know What I Was Doing. I consulted all my friends who had children of that age to get input and advice, but they just laughed at me. “We don’t know what we’re doing, either,” they said.
So I’m used to exploring the limits of my competence. Still, the bear has me bumfuzzled. I’ll git ‘er done, mainly because I’m too stubborn to give up, but I am most uncomfortable with this level of Not Knowing What I’m Doing. In this case, someone else’s feelings are at stake!
October feels like the month of I Don’t Know What I’m Doing. Next month I will start a new novel while bringing The Foreign Language of Friends to the public. I never know what I’m doing when I start a new story, and though I have worked to find an audience for my novel, one never knows what will sell or not. In the meantime, I need to figure out how to finish this poor little bear…when I don’t know what I’m doing.
I’d love to hear other stories about when you’ve been in the position of “I Don’t Know What I’m Doing.” I guess I’d love to feel like I’m not alone!