I have fallen in love with Miss Dashwood or, more precisely, with Gwendolyn! Miss Dashwood is an adorable, new hat pattern at Knitty.com -- but, oh, what a beautiful child! Now I need a baby to snuggle! The soonest opportunity is a ways off yet -- my sister is at the half-way mark in her pregnancy and her bump is quite apparent... and I can't wait to smooch soft cheeks! Speaking of said sister, I saw her late last week and gave her the Tanguy hat, which she loved, along with her birthday presents!
There was a lot accomplished yesterday, including the pinning out of the back of St. Brigid! In the comments, Cindy said that she uses the same kind of cardboard thing that I do for blocking, but to circumvent any possible problems with moisture, she's covered hers with clear Contact paper. That goes into the "Duh, why didn't I think of that?" category, with sincere thanks that people more clever than I (that would be you, Cindy!) are willing to share their ideas! In other knitting news, I finished one saddle last night and got a start on the other. Both sleeves ought to be completed tonight and they'll block while I knit the collar. No, Elizabeth, no St. Brigid modelled today, but you certainly do humor me with your optimism!!
There was vacuumming, dusting, laundry, banking and grocery shopping yesterday, too, and I limited my blog-reading and emailing -- it's so easy to let that suck a few hours from the day! Alas, nothing in the realm of taxes, except that the thought is really starting to linger and press down on my brain and I'm going to have to get it over with soon.
That's the knitting update. The rest is
pretty much a ramble. In fact, it's the longest, most time-consuming post I've written!
I read a thoughtful post on motherhood yesterday which was prompted by Newsweek's cover story, "The Myth of the Perfect Mother." It's no secret, I guess, that I enjoy my role as mother to our three girls; I never intended to blog about them as much as I do, but I find them so interesting right now. Sometimes I think that I'm being rewarded for not completely losing it when they were toddlers. It was not all sunshine and happiness -- there were some very hard times during those years. It's not all sunshine and happiness now, either. I have done the best that I could and, thank you, I'll take credit for doing a pretty good/good enough job. That doesn't mean that I don't beat myself up every once in a while, thinking that maybe I should have, could have, wish I would have _________ [fill in the blank]. I think I'm a glass half-full person, though, because I never let myself beat myself to a pulp over stuff like that. In the words of Doris Day, "Que Sera, Sera."
"Just Be." No doubt, my kids were the most unscheduled on the block. The priority was that they be free to use their imaginations and to create and to play. Our porches and playroom (who am I kidding, the whole damn house) was always strewn from end to end with kids, crayons, markers, reams of paper, Legos, Barbies, Beanie Babies, velcro monkeys, Brio trains, beads, etc.
Mindless stuff, too, like when Katie & Ali were 6 and 4, my stepmother taught them to crochet. They only knew how to make a chain and, supplied with the requested ball of yarn and hook, they worked together to crochet a chain that went from our house to their friends' -- three doors down and across the street -- and back. "Mom, look what we made!" As they got older, their play reflected a growing awareness of the world. They'd videotape "news shows" and interviews; play detective, design sets and make movies starring Barbie and Ken, sew clothes for their dolls, do "experiments" in the kitchen, organize a neighborhood game of color tag, or "go exploring."
I'd help them when needed, but mostly I did my own thing, too. I guess I was pretty unscheduled; most people would say "laid-back." I have my moments... There were a few birthday parties, and the time I got it together and made a bunny-shaped birthday cake for Ali's birthday which fell on Easter, and then modified the recipe and made a monkey-shaped cake for Katie's six days later. There was the fabulous cooking-themed, sleep-over, combo party for them both (five guests each) -- that their friends still talk about 10 years later. Most of the time it was, "Oh crap" and invite the neighbor kids for an impromptu "party." (And there will be a party for Maddy this year!!)
"Benign neglect" is how my husband describes his childrearing philosophy; it is how his mother raised him, though not as deliberately. I subscribed fairly early in our go at parenting. "You never make your kids do anything!" Those words were screamed into my face two summers ago by the above-mentioned sister. And you know, she's right! Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I think, for the most part, that it's a good thing; obviously, my sister thinks differently. We're all entitled to our opinions -- and to raise our children however we like, as long as they're loved and safe.
I have encouraged my kids, but I mostly let them guide me. Why would I put them -- and me -- through the wringer, making them do things that they don't want to do, just to keep them busy and occupied? Is that what they call "building character"? I think my kids have plenty of character -- more than most, if you want to know the truth. We've done piano lessons, violin, summer school, library reading programs, softball, camp, etc. The only rule is that if they start something, they pretty much have to finish; if they don't want to do it again, okey-doke.
Loved and safe. There are as many opinions on the definitions of those things as there are stars in the sky. I knew I'd have no problems with our school system when, on practically the first day of kindergarten, the grrs came home to tell me that they were "lovable and capable." They also talked that year about "needs and wants," something that Stephanie* reminded us of recently. And the first word on the first spelling test in first grade was the word, "responsibility" -- it was not a bonus word, either. These things, really, combined with an awareness of others -- "The Golden Rule," if you will -- will take a person a long way.
I've been scared out of my wits a few times in the area of safety. A person can only do so much. The world is full of danger and much of it is out of my control. Have I wanted to handcuff my kids to my wrists or lock them in their rooms 'til they're 30? Yes. Is that in their best interest? No.
This is how it goes at our house. Last night Ali came home and we talked about her weekend plans. She scrunched her nose and said, "Well, I'm supposed to work Friday night, but I think I'm gonna ask off because I want to do something else. And besides, I'm getting a new job." (She has an interview for a new job on Monday; there's no guaranteed new job.) (Oh, and here's where my mother would have hit the roof and I'll let you figure out/remember the ending.) She went on about this-n-that, that-n-this, and I pointed out that it all requires money and she might want to think about it some more. This morning, she told me that she will be working on Friday night. There would have been stern words if her decision had been anything else. I could have hit the roof right off the bat, but isn't it better this way? Given the opportunity, I think most kids would do the right thing. I don't think she's ever forgotten how to spell "responsibility."
*I have to tell you that I recently received my own MSF tote bag, notepad, and bumper sticker. These were definitely wants, but the purchase helps someone else with a need, so I think I'm okay in the needs/wants department. They're available at Cafepress, though I don't know exactly where (if anyone can help with that link, please let me know!).