Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Motherhood & More: Finding time, energy to be available for demands on Mama's time*

Parenting is a hard gig, right? I mean, no one disputes that, or the fact that it’s draining and exhausting. But it’s also wonderful and life-changing and happiness-bringing and awesome, obviously.

Lately I’ve been having trouble feeling the awesome. What I mean by that is I am wishing greatly for more time to be me, not Mama. My sweet heathens are all loved and fed and clothed and happy, and I am being as good of a parent I can, but I don’t seem to relish it, you know?

I have hours to myself – I work at home while the kids are in school so rarely do I hear a noise other than my own thoughts and my fingers typing on the keyboard. And I like it – no, LOVE IT – that way. I am sort of an introverted extrovert in that I am very comfortable at home, quiet, doing my own thing. But I am also thrilled to be around other adults.

But the kids – they come with much more work than do grown-ups. They return home from school each day with demands for food and homework help and pent-up energy and whining from having to behave. I have to mentally prepare myself for a culture shock each weekday at 2:20, when the complete silence turns into complete chaos.

And then there was the holiday break and the endless snow days, and what I’m saying is that I’m really missing the quiet. I am having a hard time being a present, involved mama. I am spending too much time at my computer and not enough time playing horses or Barbies or Star Wars or monopoly.

I’ve begun tensing up when I see the children heading my way, because I know it means they will want something from me, or have a question for me that will only lead to more questions, and then even more questions because my son never stops talking. Like ever.

I feel myself resent the interruption, and then resenting the fact that I have that feeling. I resent the need to be alone, and yet desperately need to be alone. I am working daily, hourly on trying to be more in the moment and to actually enjoy those moments. 

I want to say ‘yes’ instead of ‘not now’ to my daughter when she asks me to play another game of monopoly or work another puzzle. I want to want to answer my son’s 178th ‘Did you know’ question on his latest obsession (Star Wars. Pirates. Minecraft. Weather. Rocks. Bugs. Animals.) 

I am trying. It is so very hard. But I figure if I force myself to get out of my head, to be present, to say yes even when I don’t feel like I can, soon it will be easier. I will not inwardly sigh when they come to me. My smile will be more enthusiastic. 

And they might just better remember all the times I was available to them instead of all the times I was too busy.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on Jan. 27, 2016.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sewing, again (Hollyburn Skirt)

I was speaking with a friend this morning about sewing, and I realized that I haven't worn anything I've sewn in a good long while. And then I realized I hadn't actually sewn anything in what feels like forever.

So I decided to remedy both of those things.

I chose to wear the Hollyburn skirt today because it's been sitting unworn in my closet since I sewed it. I don't really love it, or actually like it all that much.

It's definitely not the pattern's problem, it's more user error, unfortunately.

I chose my fabric (Cotton + Steel) because I thought typewriters would be perfect for this shape of skirt. Retro, you know? But I didn't think it all through, and I didn't see how the skirt was sewn before it was too late.

It's made up of different panels, and if I had been paying more attention I would have cut the two front panels in such a way as to ensure the front seam didn't slice the typewriters in half. I tried to remedy the situation by sewing a line of ribbon over the seam. It definitely looks better than it did, but it doesn't look fantastic.

Also, Hollyburn is supposed to have a fitted waist. I didn't measure because measuring is for wusses, obviously.

And even more obviously, not measuring enough resulted in a skirt that doesn't fit.

This is me pinching the back 2-3 extra inches at the waist to show how much better it would look if I had sewn it the right way.

If I were a proper sewist I'd take the waistband apart and take it in, and adjust the skirt. However I am a sometimes sewist, one who needs to learn that sometimes quality is more important than quantity. Also I could use a mannequin. And someone to measure me.

I will fix it one day. It may be 10 years in the future, though. And I will sew this pattern again - a size down and with better fabric.

And to go back to present-day sewing, I'm going to start the Emery Dress today, with this fabric:

I can't wait until it's done!  But, if I'm honest, I probably won't get much more done than cutting and pasting the pattern printout together because time management and whatnot. But at least it's a start, yes?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Motherhood & More: Hoping kids remember more than Christmas magic misses*

I think I may have single handedly ruined the magicalness of Christmas for my kids.

I mean, there’s only so much enchantment I can create, you know? As much as I would love to present my children with a Pinterest Christmas, I gave up on that attempt the year my daughter destroyed the homemade applesauce cinnamon ornaments just because.

They have an advent calendar with a daily treat (mostly cheap chocolate because I am not an idiot) but we had to move that surprise to the afternoon because someone (my son) wasn’t sleeping past 4:30 a.m. He was too excited because of all the anticipation, and I was too tired because of all the early rising.

But sometimes I forget to have their treat out when they get home from school. They run expectedly, eyes bright hoping for their tiny snowman chocolate. I have to inform them that no, their mother wasn’t prepared. Again. But hold on a minute and I’ll get it for you. I guess that ruins the surprise, or something.

We also acquired an Elf on the Shelf a few years ago as a family gift, though we probably would have gotten him ourselves because everyone has to have an elf now, right?

Guess how happy I am about that little nuisance? Not only does he absolutely have to be in a different spot every night, but parents now are creating ridiculous scenarios where their elf is squirting toothpaste all over the bathroom because he’s just a silly, naughty thing. Excuse me, but I have enough junk to pick up after my children. Sorry, kids. I’m not cleaning up after the elf, too. You will just have to make do with our boring Mr. Christmas.

I also don’t understand how people leave their elves in places low enough for kids to reach. My kids know they’re not supposed to touch him. However my daughter will look you right in the eye as you tell her not to touch and poke the poor guy’s leg. That’s because no one is allowed to tell her what not to do, obviously.

And now my son has started writing to our elf. Usually he tells me when he’s written a letter and asks that I make sure the elf knows about it because we have a special bond, Mr. Christmas and I. But sometimes my son doesn’t tell me and is greatly disappointed when there isn’t a response. That means, of course, that now I have to search for a letter every night, just in case.

As much as I complain, I actually wish I were better at all of this than I am. I’d love to be the type of mom who has everything organized enough to fill every day of the Christmas season with magic. I’m having a difficult enough time keeping up with all I’m supposed to be doing that isn’t Christmas related, and many times I drop the ball. But I hope they don’t remember all the times the elf didn’t respond to a letter, or how we still didn’t put up the outside Christmas lights.

Maybe, instead, they’ll remember cookies we made, the tree we decorated, the Christmas music and hot chocolate, and the holiday shows we watched snuggled up together and offer a bit of forgiveness to their imperfect Mama.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on December 23, 2015.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Motherhood & More: With the holidays upon us, I am thankful for coffee*

Every year I wonder how it is that the holidays have come so quickly. I’m not nearly ready for any of it and it’s become a tradition to rush around crazily at the last minute. I don’t think this is so much because I put things off, but rather I pile too much stuff on in hopes of being everything to everyone.

So, in the spirit of giving myself a break, I’m copping out on this column. I’m going easy on myself. So this will not be literary genius of a piece, as they normally are, of course. This will be a last-minute, thrown-together list written in between work and laundry.

You are so welcome.

Without further ado, I give you my Thanksgiving List Of Things I Am Thankful For:

  • I’m thankful my daughter slept all night in her own bed without crawling into mine, snoring and stealing all the covers.
  • I’m thankful for interesting work I can do from my dining room table.
  • I’m thankful my son enjoys reading as much as I do, even if his favorites employ toilet humor instead of complex plot development. “Captain Underpants,” I’m looking at you.
  • I’m thankful we have a house that is a cross between 1920s craftsman, 1980s renovation and 2010s my-children-have-too-much-junk-and-refuse-to-clean-up-after-themselves.
  • I’m thankful for coffee.
  • I’m thankful I have a husband who sometimes makes me lunch when I’m busy writing a column that is past due.
  • I’m thankful for laughter and corny jokes and friends and family who indulge me in both.
  • I’m thankful for people who buy and appreciate the jewelry and hand knits I so love to make.
  • I’m thankful for parents who raised me to know how to do things for myself, like making a pie, sewing a dress or growing a garden.
  • I’m thankful my backyard is shady so I have an excuse not to plant a huge garden that requires a lot of work.
  • I’m thankful for warmth and good food.
  • I’m thankful both of my children are thoughtful and kind.
  • I’m thankful for health.
  • I’m thankful for coffee.
  • I’m thankful for the village in our real village — we have a good set of friends/neighbors who always are willing to help each other when needed.
  • I’m thankful for a husband who doesn’t complain too much when I leave the living room strewn with yarn and project materials.
  • I’m thankful for feather blankets on cold mornings.
  • I’m thankful for good wine and good bourbon.
  • I’m thankful for knit sweaters and socks.
  • I’m thankful for hair dye to hide all of my gray hair.
  • I’m thankful for friends who remain friends, even when we hardly ever see each other.
  • I’m thankful for Minecraft entertaining my children sometimes so I don’t have to.
  • I’m thankful my husband fills up the car’s gas tank so I don’t have to worry.
  • I’m thankful for love and acceptance.
  • I’m thankful for coffee.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on Nov. 25, 2015.