I’ve just returned from my third annual craftcation with Houston-area Physician Mom Crafters (PMC). It’s exactly what it sounds like: a crafting vacation with doctors who are moms and like to craft.
For the third year in a row, we’ve set aside one weekend in the fall to gather at Twelve Pines Retreat Center in Huntsville and make beautiful things. From watercolor to wine cork creations, paper-crafts to painting, and quilting to quilling, you never know what works you’ll find in progress.
But there’s a wee little detail you may have picked up on…namely, that I’m not a physician.
I’m a mom and a novice crafter, but a doctor I am not. So how is it that I’ve joined this credentialed, intelligent, and creative group of women for a third annual craftcation?
Here’s how it happened…
A few years ago, when we were new to this part of Houston, Todd met a med-peds doctor at a physician meet-and-greet and knew I would like her. He kept her name and information in case we decided to switch pediatricians, which was already on the horizon. I was intrigued by the idea of having the same doctor for myself and my child. And when we did make the switch, Todd’s intuition was proven right. I liked her immediately.
I don’t remember when, but somewhere along the way, our new doctor invited me for a girls’ night out with friends, all of whom were also doctors, except for me. When I first met Katy, then Brooks, Stephanie, and several others, I had few (if any) local friends. I had a very young child with differences, some known, some still emerging. I felt isolated and alone as a mom (see my post, If You Don’t Play…) and had little drive to make friends, even though I desperately needed them. Because of their consistent efforts to include me, these “doctor moms” became my friends, one invitation at a time.
Over the past nine or so years, I’ve joined some combination of the doctor moms for productions of “Wicked” and “Chicago,” for mani-pedis, fundraisers, birthday dinners, a paper-crafting group, and even an escape room. (Yes, we made it out.) I’m not sure the doctor moms knew how much I needed a peer group when they started asking, but for whatever reason, they were intentional about including me. They welcomed me in, despite my non-doctor status, and made my next few years far less lonely than they might have been. I was, and I remain, deeply grateful.
The doctor moms made me do it
A few years back, my core group of doctor mom friends invited me to dinner out and a mini-craft retreat at one of their homes (a precursor to the craftcations to come). Someone brought enough vintage pillowcases to go around, and we followed a tutorial to make pillowcase dresses for our little girls. I hadn’t used a sewing machine since I was a kid, but Katy and Stephanie re-taught me how to sew. Soon after, I bought a sewing machine to make simple projects, mostly as gifts.
Then, two years ago, Katy and Stephanie organized an official “craftcation” for a group they belonged to, Physician Mom Crafters, and invited me to come along. They were bringing their Silhouette Cameos and encouraged me to bring some vinyl and crafting blanks (acrylic cups, t-shirts, and the like) to share in the fun. I did, and came away not only with a new skillset but with handmade holiday gifts for both of my kids’ teachers and Isaac’s entire therapy staff.
When I shared my excitement with Todd, he texted Katy for the info and ordered me a Silhouette Cameo for Christmas. At this point, it’s fair to say, I was hooked.
Physician Mom Crafters
The first craftcation was small, and I already knew all of the doctor moms there. The following year, I met a few more Physician Mom Crafters, including one who wasn’t a mom (opposite of me). I remember us laughing about not quite fitting the title. But truly, nobody cared. This year, I met a few more Physician Mom Crafters, including another non-physician mom who came with a friend. What I’ve found over time is that the same wide-open welcome the doctor moms extended to me runs deep in the spirit of this entire group. It’s truly a beautiful thing.
There are plenty of stories out there about mean girls and the women they become, never fully outgrowing childish social limitations. But in my experience, there are some pretty amazing women out there, too, who live and breathe what it means to be good humans. The Physician Mom Crafters who I shared space with again this past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, are those kind of women.
They are funny, talented, supportive, and kind, and not at all competitive with each other. They are generous with their time, often pausing their own projects to share tips and techniques and teach a friend. And they are seamlessly inclusive. Regardless of race or religion, marital status, kids or no kids, even whether or not you are a physician…if you are with them, you are part of the group. You matter. You belong.
The world is as it should be at the annual PMC craftcation, and I feel fortunate to be a part of it.
A peek inside the retreat center
The talent in the room runs thick. It’s inspiring to see quilted squares multiplying on the wall, professional-grade watercolors of people’s homes coming to life, seasoned doctors making personalized gifts for their office staff. There’s also a pregnant mom making bibs for her baby, and a baby girl who tagged along, adding her happy coos and ahhhs to the low drum of sewing machines and vinyl cutting.
Cell phones ding, a sign that some are on call this weekend. One doctor has to leave for several hours to meet a new baby in the hospital, something she does graciously, still mindful of the privilege in her work. Here and there, conversations emerge on medicine and policy, a reminder of the wealth of knowledge and experience in the room.
Funny…my doctor, the one who first introduced me to her friends, isn’t at the retreat this year. And yet, here I am. A full circle of inclusion. I meet someone who volunteers every summer–along with her typical children–at a camp for kids with special needs and their siblings. Someone else who is a caregiver to her adult sister with Downs Syndrome and acknowledges, with no resentment, that it will affect the trajectory of her life. Across the room, I hear someone say that when she found this group, she thought, “These are my people.”
I’m not sure why it never occurred to me before I knew the doctor moms that strong professional women could be crazy good crafters, too. That I could enjoy something so traditionally feminine as crafting and still be a good feminist. Maybe, since I’m a second child, I feel like I need a model to teach me these things, to give me permission. In PMC, I have found many wonderful models for who we can be, how we can live.
I came away from this weekend, as from the others, with a hodgepodge of completed projects:
- Scarves for myself and my sister, created in part from my dad’s old shirts.
- Wine corks reimagined as reindeer, for ornaments and gift tags.
- A wreath made from broken ornaments.
- Handmade cards for all occasions.
- A mom t-shirt and repaired vest, just for me.
But mostly, I came away richer for spending time with these women. Physician Mom Crafters are my kind of people. I’m already looking forward to next year.
Physician Mom Crafters: A Tale of Inclusion
I almost used this heading as the title of my post, because this is a tale of inclusion. As always, I welcome your comments and insights. I’d especially love to hear your stories of inclusion, how being welcomed into a particular group or friendship–or extending that welcome yourself–impacted your life for the better.