Monday, March 19, 2012

My not-ever-still life

I've told you this preamble at least a few times, now. I'm obsessed with learning to sew. Last night I found out that I'd finally made it off the waitlist for the sewing class I've wanted to take at a nearby fabric shop. So this morning I walked into class with my fabric scissors and a seam ripper. This evening I walked out with this:


I made that, and I was so pleased with myself. I came home and showed off my new tote bag to my appropriately-admiring family and realized how exhausted I was from hours of concentrating. What a great feeling, though, to have learned a new skill today. I can't really think of any other experience where I learned a whole new skill after a few hours' time. Maybe the best comparison is after reading the state laws about driving as part of driver's ed, and then finally spending that first afternoon driving.

Having reached the conclusion of baby-having, it's been a revelation to discover I'm allowed small moments for action or thought again. The act of everyday parenting isn't any longer an act of adrenaline now that we're past the point where constant attention to a gaggle of tiny people is required. G is old enough to play independently, E is tall enough to reach the books he wants, and L is daydreamer enough to entertain herself indefinitely. It's a sweet spot, I think, before we hit the angst and drama of tweendom or independence of being out with friends but without adults not too far hence.

When I named this blog, E had just turned two and tiny L had just been born. I was thinking of the whirlygig whirling dervish cyclone effect of it all, that there was always a baby to nurse or a diaper to change or two diapers to change and a milk to pour, or a diaper to change and a spill to clean and a hungry child screaming and a misplaced critical item and a mess just stepped in. It was dizzying for a girl like me who prefers to live in her head than in the real world. It was demanding and loud and disorienting. Nothing stopped moving. Nothing stood still.

And then, of course, we had another one.

Lately, though, after our equilibrium got worse and then got better, I've been rethinking the blog title as a reference point. As the littles get bigger they will continue spinning, undoubtedly, but on ambling trajectories that ultimately take them away from us and into independent lives of their own. And then, what of this blog, and arguably more importantly, what of me? And I've been thinking of the phrase in reference to me not as Mama, but me-as-me. I don't want to be a still life, waiting for fruit to rot on the vine, reminding myself and you of inevitable death. This is my not-ever-still life, filled with new challenges and adventures and maybe I'll be able to control the pace of all the spinning one day instead of letting it control me, but undoubtedly there should always be forward motion.

And so this is my new thing in my ever-changing life: I'm throwing myself into the new hobby of sewing.

After the kids were finally asleep the anxiety of the day caught up to me. What if I couldn't sew without the instructor's assistance? I'll be back next Sunday for the second half of the course, and knowing I'd have a chance soon to ask questions buoyed me. Last week I had bought the most perfect pair of pants (gray linen with a yoga waistband!) but like most pants, they were many inches too long on me. I got the courage to machine sew a new hem.

Guess what? I hemmed those pants. I wound a bobbin and threaded the machine and figured out what to do and I hemmed two lovely straight lines. And to think: there were all those years of hemming my pants by walking on the bottom until the extra fabric ripped off. There's actually a tidier way.

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PS- the fabric shop shares a building with a Gold's Gym. Watching the crowds who move through the plaza I realized that they could be broken down into two equal groups, and any new person who got out of a car immediately fit in one group or the other. The inhabitants were equal parts grandma calico and pit-stained Under Armour. It was the strangest crowd I've ever observed.

PPS- I sewed the prettiest straight lines on my pant hems that you can possibly imagine. And then I tried on my pants and I think they're a quarter inch too short. So now I can sew, but I still can't measure. I'll be wearing them all summer, anyway, and if you see me in them you should tell me they look great.

PPPS- you might hear a lot about sewing in this next block of time. Because you can't stagnate or grow complacent when surrounded by sharp pins and needles. And this is my life, certainly not still.

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