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!
You are not alone! Keep on the keeping on. I just pretend I know what I am doing and it usually comes to me. Confidence can be faked!
Yep, the old fake it till you make it! I think it’s incredibly funny, though, when people assume that I know what I’m doing. I think I wanted to expose this part of myself in part to help people realize that not knowing what we’re doing is a reasonable (and exciting) place to exist.
Love the bear, BTW! I can relate. I started a website and in my head I know the direction I want to go with it, but I get so overwhelmed and sidetracked that I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. One little mantra that I repeat to myself that helps a little is, “Just keep doing”. We probably “do” as well as any body else does! We’re just admitting it!
Great mantra! I’ll keep it in mind.
I’m with you all the way, Nadine. I didn’t do the stepkid thing, but my husband and I adopted two older children from Russia even though we had never been parents. We certainly didn’t have a clue what to do with them, and at the time there were no support groups, internet sources, therapists, or other parents to help us. That’s what I’m trying to write about. And this writing “career” that I decided to tackle is “not knowing what I’m doing” all the way. Blogging, html, platform building, story-telling. Every day I find something new that I have to… Read more »
Amen, sister. You’re doing a great job with your blog, by the way. It’s always enjoyable and well done.
I think your stepdaughter is lucky to have a mom like you. You’re doing a great job on the bear and your site. 🙂
Aw, thanks! BTW, I’m going to recommend your blog tomorrow, so come back and have a look!
Love your willingness to wash and repair the beloved bear. I’ve done it many times for my ancient bunny.
As for the writing success, you do it by doing it…
You’re absolutely right! Fortunately, I am doing it and have been for some time. But I think I like that crazy sense I get with each new project that I’ve once again jumped into the deep end of the pool and don’t know how to swim. I think if I ever lose that, I’ll lose interest in writing altogether.
I’ve been in that situation too many times to count. Somehow, things usually turn out all right. Good luck on your novel.
Thanks, Richard! Always nice to hear from you!
How great of you to do this Nadine! i have my first stuffed bear too, wraped in a plastic baggie and in my grandmothers hope shest with her marriage china-he has no fur left,baby bottle stains, but I love him. I am keeping some of brys favorite stufed toys too but he was never really in need of stuffed animals the way I was-guess thats a good thing. You are awesome to be trying this and the work in progress is already so good I cant believe it! Im a seamstress and alteres my own wedding dress but would never… Read more »
Knowing what I am doing is boring. I only know what I am doing when I have done something the same way many times. Is your fear of disappointing Sarah is making you anxious? IMHO She must have trust in you to have consented. She must know that you will approach the task with a loving heart. That only happens when you have consistently demonstrated a trustworthy loving heart in the past. I think you should add a flap that unbuttons to reveal Fluffy’s heart, your shared heart.
That’s a very sweet sentiment, and I thank you for it. I have something else in mind once I finish Fluffy, but I can’t share it yet (though I’m dying to!) because Sarah doesn’t know about it yet. In the meantime, Fluffy will wear a heart that Sarah’s grandma put there some time ago, and I will leave that space for her — but I’m definitely going to have some fun with a special surprise to go with the finished bear. Stay tuned… I agree with you that knowing what I am doing is boring. What I had hoped to… Read more »