My mum taught me a lot of valuable skills and lessons.
One of those skills, which she taught me when I was in primary school, was how to cross-stitch.
For those who don't know, cross-stitch is a form of sewing where X-shaped stitches of multiple colours are combined to create a picture.
The walls at my parents' house are adorned with my mum's impressive creations. Growing up, when mum wasn't performing the juggling act that is raising five children, her quiet time was often centred around a needle and thread.
The only cross-stitch I remember finishing as a kid was a little dog over the words "thank you" for one of my primary school teachers.
Unfortunately, as a kid who was already bullied, I worried a lot about cross-stitch not fitting the male stereotype - I cared far too much about what others thought of me. I imagine the time and patience required was a limiting factor at that age too.
However, I recently rediscovered cross-stitch. I spent Queen's Birthday Weekend meeting my partner's extended family in Hawke's Bay. Many of them, including some of the men, do cross-stitch.
I decided to give it another go, more to see if I could remember how than anything, and downloaded a small pattern.
I was amazed at how fast it all came back to me.
I was more surprised by how therapeutic it was.
It's simple enough that you can do it while you watch TV, but requires enough concentration that you can get lost in what you're doing and hours fly by.
It struck me at one point, as I sat on the couch watching rugby league, drinking a beer, and stitching away, that I don't really fit a single stereotype.
Perhaps I've let my own perceptions and stereotypes control my life, but often it feels like you're either a blokey bloke who loves beer and sport, or a more feminine-inclined man who likes baking and sewing.
I love having beers with the lads and watching rugged Aussie blokes belt the crap out of one another in the NRL.
I also love having a nice glass of red and doing some baking.
I've always considered myself fairly "woke". In terms of gender and sexuality, I think everyone should be free to follow whatever is natural and true for them.
However, my rediscovered love for cross-stitch has made me realise maybe I had been perceiving things through a very old-fashioned lens when it comes to my own endeavours.
Thanks in part to lockdown and being stuck at home, I have now completed a small cross-stitch of a panda lying on its front over the word "Nope", a feeling I'm sure we all can relate to sometimes. It is framed and sits proudly on my desk at work.
I then completed a slightly bigger design with a floral pattern and the inspirational message: "Farts are just the screams of trapped poop". Immature I know, but when I see it on the back of the bathroom door it makes me laugh.
Now, I have become very ambitious and bought a pattern for a giant cross-stitch of all the first-generation Pokemon, one of my favourite childhood cartoons.
It is about 120x70cm and comprises 105 colours.
I estimate it will keep me busy for the next few years but I'll enjoy every moment, especially armed with the realisation that my hobbies don't have to fit a mould or stereotype.