When my daughter received her first Brownie badge, called a Try-It, I did what any modern woman would have done: I congratulated her and then flipped the badge over, looking for the adhesive strip so I could attach it to her sash.
"Mommy, what are you doing?" my daughter asked. "You have to sew it on."
Sew it? At first I thought she was kidding. Then I realized she wasn't.
Let me just say that I am the type of person whose sewing kit contains a bunch of dull pins, some dental floss, and a stapler. In the home- economics class I was forced to take in high school - because the art classes were full - I spent the entire semester trying to thread the sewing machine.
I had a feeling I was wasting everybody's time - especially the teacher's.
According to her, I had absolutely no eye for detail, my stitches were too big, and my fine motor skills were nonexistent. And that, she implied to my mother, was sugar-coating it.
Fifteen years later, I still haven't
figured out how to make tiny, even stitches, and the last time I saw our sewing machine, it was holding up the back end of my husband's car while he changed the tire.
But I was determined to sew on my daughter's badge. So I licked my fingertips, closed one eye, and threaded the needle. I concentrated and tried to remember how to make a stitch. Any stitch.
After several attempts, I realized that I wasn't dealing with ordinary embroidered fabric. The badge was obviously made of special bulletproof material. An hour later, with my important fingers wrapped in Band-Aids, I had finally attached the patch securely to the sash.
The embroidered triangle was a masterpiece, proving beyond all doubt that I was an involved, caring mother. I proudly offered my labor of love to my daughter.
"Mom," she said, "it's upside down."
I was surprised she could make out the design through all the stitches.
When she received three more "Try-Its" at her next Brownie meeting, I forced a smile and tried to look excited. Then I opened a bottle of glue and slathered it onto the sash.
I was impressed with my ingenuity - until the patches started curling up at the corners and falling off. I knew that when my daughter wore her uniform in public, the word would be out that I was domestically challenged.
But, at the next meeting, I was stunned to find out most of the mothers apparently had had the same kind of home-economics training as I did. One mother had stapled the patches to her daughter's sash, while another had used a set of diaper pins. My friend Linda, whom I've always viewed as a perfect mother, had traced her daughter's patches onto the sash with laundry pens.
Suddenly, I knew everything would be OK. I didn't even mind when my daughter brought home five new Try-Its that day. I just did what any modern mother would do: I congratulated her - and then went into the garage to find the duct tape.
Debbie Farmer lives with her husband and daughter in California.
Parents: To submit a first-person essay on your own parenting experiences, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.