Monday, October 5, 2009

Changing Things Up a Bit

So, I haven't been blogging much. I've thought about it, and even started a few posts, but always got pulled away. And, there are those Friday posts that haven't been happening for a couple of reasons. The biggest one is that recently I haven't had anything to show for my time. Key word being show. I've been doing plenty. I've been teaching. I've been parenting. I've been reading. I've been doing the dishes occasionally. (By which I mean, when the sink is full and Bob eventually says a gentle something I finally manage to load the dishwasher.)

But I've not been crafting. I have a beautiful space where my sewing machine sits idle. The last action it saw was the creation of the way cool Halloween costumes my brother-in-law made his kids. I've been knitting a little bit, but not too much (a bit more on this later). And, as many of you mothers, teachers, and others are aware, often there's very little at the end of the day that you can point to (or take a picture of) and say, "Hey! I did that!"

So, a couple of things have come together at once to make me reevaluate the way I'm, well, valuing my time. A guy on the radio (have no idea who, sorry) was talking about Twitter and Facebook and the advent of "realtime digital living" (I think that's how he put it). His point was we live too publicly now. If things aren't seen or known by others then they don't exist. Basically, unless others agree, validate, or view your actions, thoughts, accomplishments, whatever then they aren't real; they don't matter. Now, I don't entirely agree with him. I like how Twitter and Facebook can keep me connected to people I wouldn't normally hear from. But, like all technologies, it's how you use it. Anyway, the point is the idea was planted in my head, and I started to wonder if I felt the compulsion to craft at a sometimes manic level just so I'd have something to post about, take a picture of, or show for my time.

I've also been doing some general thinking about parenting and what sort of parenting philosophy I ascribe to. Luckily, Bob and I are completely in agreement on this one. But some other people we know are using different approaches and apparently attachment parenting is not as mainstream or "normal" as I had sort of figured it was. When Bobby was born, Bob and I just started doing what seemed right for him and us; we didn't read any books (very atypical for us, by the way).

Children change you so much. I was a huge proponent of drugs for childbirth, then Bobby came along and I didn't want to drug him or have a needle put in my back, so natural childbirth and I became friends. Then Bobby was born and I would wake up in the middle of the night searching the bed for my missing baby. He would be fitful and fussy in the bassinet and we ended up co-sleeping for everyone's peace of mind and health. I certainly hadn't seen that one coming either.

I believe children should change us. It's a unique sort of relationship this parent-child one.

Then, there's Bobby himself. He's almost 18 months old and in the throes of separation anxiety. He started clinging to me like a sucker fish when he glimpsed the nursery door the other day. He gets skittish when Bob wheels the grocery cart to the other end of the aisle. He runs to various rooms of the house just to double-check I'm still around. He's getting a little better, but I'm sure I don't need to explain how difficult it can be to knit (especially if it involves a chart) with an 18-month-old doing a convincing impression of an octopus in your lap. He doesn't seem to quite value the time I put into his socks as much as he values the time I put into him. I may want to express my love for him by keeping him warm and cozy in things my hands have made, but he doesn't understand that kind of love yet. One day he will, but not just yet.

Right now he understands that I tickle him while we're waiting in the car for Bob. He understands that I clap for him while he puts his puzzles together. He knows that when he closes the door to his room to get some alone time, but 3 minutes later wants it opened, but hasn't quite figured out the new door handles, he can call me and I'll open the door and see what sorts of mischief he's been up to. He understands that using words and signs gets him things much more efficiently than crying does (though when words fail his racing toddler mind he resorts to crying easily enough). He's learning to tease and play with us. I think it's important that we show him we want to play back with him.

Also, I certainly don't want to set up the kind of relationship where he has to act out to get my attention. I want him to know that I love him and want to spend time with him. I am around too many teenagers who either don't want to be around their parents or think their parents don't want to be around them. If there is anything I can do to prevent that I will. Plus, I hear that eventually children grow up and move out. Eventually I won't be swinging a happy-go-lucky little boy into my arms, I won't be changing his diapers, I won't be napping on the couch with him. When that time comes, then I'll knit.

In twenty years, (though I am hoping it isn't quite that long) my fabric, my yarn, my fiber will all still be here. I will probably still be able to knit and sew. But in twenty years I won't be able to nurse my son. I won't be able to show him the bird that likes to fly between our tree and the one across the street and watch his eyes light up. I won't be able to watch him proudly walk half the length of the University Center carrying our new bag of purchases, and I won't be able to scoop him up to ferry him safely to the car. I am learning to love and value these times as much as he does. I don't want to resent the time I spend with him. While I may not have a lot to show for my time, I have great memories. Some of those can at least be put into words.

I am going to keep blogging, and knitting and sewing when I can, but for a while (likely a very long while) my children are going to be a much higher priority than having new things knit or sewn. I'm choosing my projects with more care now. The baby sweater I've started is the equivalent of a 20" x 7" garter stitch swatch until I get to the arms, and it's knit at something like 7.25 stitches to the inch on US size 3 needles. Yep, I've got a lot of mindless, easy to put down, easy to pick up knitting ahead of me. The sewing I do, will probably be at night. I'm a little nervous about what this change will mean for the holidays. I set the bar pretty high for myself. But I'll get through it. And, maybe, I'll even be a little less stressed. I still have some exciting crafting things coming up in the next two weeks, and I still have big hopes for things I'd like to do. But, instead of resenting Bobby's attempts to engage me in play, or to "help" me with whatever I'm doing, I'm going to play with him. We're going to grow together, and I hope eventually he'll appreciate the things I make him all the more.

Maybe (and no pressure, little dude, I'm just saying) I'll be able to knit more for my grandchildren.


Northern Lights Fiber Co. said...

Great post! The time goes too fast. I think the highlight of my day today was doing Corbin's sticker book with him :) Oh and I loved the octopus part - I got the greatest image in my mind.

Anonymous said...

You have your priorities in the right order.
I love you and your husband and most definitely the little man.

RitaLee said...

Beautiful post, Leah. Don't forget Bobby's smile is one of your greatest accomplishments - would love to see a picture or two of him. :)

alaskamommy said...

You have a way with words! I like the "realtime digital living" section. I've found fewer and fewer of my friends and family blog, it's all a soundbite on Facebook. *raising hand to indicate my own guilt in that area* I read the blogs because three children makes phone and (real) face time hard! Thanks for continuing to write, I'm trying to write at least once a week but it's never with as much humor as you. =)