I was 5 months pregnant. My nesting instinct was raging. It made me want to do unexpected things. I created a baby and apparently this baby was going to change my life. First she took over my womb. Then she made me want to do things I never expected to do. Like knit.
With a round belly I waddled into the local knitting store and meekly asked “do you have classes?” My intent was to gather information. I walked out with a receipt that said “$40” on paper but said “life defining moment” in my heart.
The moment I declared, “I want to knit” I simultaneously realized, “this baby is going to teach me things I never imagined I could learn.”
I was stepping into a world that blends creativity and math – two of my least favorite things. Why in the world would I want to start a new hobby – one that I certainly wouldn’t like, and couldn’t do – just months before having a baby? My nesting instinct didn’t offer me a choice. It demanded I fulfill this need my baby created.
Before she was even born, Marlee pushed me out of my comfort zone into an unknown world.
Learning to knit was akin to learning to become a parent.
I learned to knit one stitch at a time. I learned to parent one step at a time. With both, I learn from my mistakes and move forward. Knitting taught me an important life lesson: be present.
I walked out of my last class with a project: a baby blanket. I was positive it would be my first and last project. But with each stitch I gained confidence. I became more patient. I could see the results of my hard work right in my hands.
The same applies to being a mom. Each day my confidence grows. My patience expands. I see my effort blossom before my eyes in the form of two kind, creative, funny children, of whom I am in awe.
I sat on my couch for hours knitting that baby blanket. I was immersed in the moment – I was soothed by the way the yarn felt in my fingers and the sound of the needles clinking together. I couldn’t put the blanket down. I knit for hours.
When Marlee was born I was captivated by the softness of her skin and riveted by every sound she made. I was immersed in the moment. I was simultaneously terrified at this awesome responsibility and amazed that I was her mom. I held her tight for hours.
I finished the blanket but I wasn’t done knitting. I went to the yarn store and started a new project. When finished, the hat had a point on the top, but I proudly put it on Marlee’s head every day.
My girls regularly shine a bright, glaring light on all the parenting skills I have yet to learn. I learn as I go, hoping to gain the knowledge needed to be the parent they each deserve.
My friend Jen once told me, “You don’t need to know everything at once. You just need to be one step ahead of your child.” I reflect on this each time I fall into despair that perhaps I am not fit to be a mom.
Like the time I briefly let go of the shopping cart and a strong wind whisked Marlee just out of my reach. A woman was shrieking nearby as I watched Marlee race across the parking lot. The woman and countless other bystanders were paralyzed. I had the presence of mind to visualize the best possible outcome. I willed a van to move between her and the main road to stop the cart.
The scene unfolded exactly as I envisioned it. The van stopped the shopping cart just as I approached. Marlee flew into the air and I caught her. I was 3 months pregnant with my next child. This incident crippled my confidence and made me wonder how I could possibly be a mom to one child, let alone two.
I realized that knitting has taught me to visualize outcomes. It requires me to create a picture of my project in my mind. The same approach applied to the parking lot incident. I use it daily as a mom. I visualize the outcome. I imagine how it will feel when the picture becomes reality.
Despite my natural tendency to think in absolute terms, I am now inspired to think differently and find many ways to tackle a challenge..with knitting, with parenting, in life.
Before Marlee arrived, my friend Jamie asked me if I was excited. I admitted that I was terrified…of everything. He explained, “This is the beginning of a lifetime of being terrified. It all starts when your baby is born.” His words were so candid and so true that I was instantly ready to be a mom.
When my nesting instinct insisted that I learn to knit I had no idea it would become a passion. How could something I never intended to do become something I couldn’t wait to do?
When I first met Josh I declared “I never want to have kids”. Yet here I am 21 years later with more love in my heart than I could have ever imagined. Something I was sure I never wanted has become the thing I can’t live without.
Knitting taught me to be fully present.
Becoming a mom gave me a reason to want to experience every moment.
And while stepping outside my comfort zone is supposed to get me OFF the couch, learning to knit prepared me to spend more time ON my couch, where I cuddle and bond with my babies and my husband, where I learned to swap To-Do lists and carefully made plans for living in the moment. On my couch with my family and my knitting I am surrounded by love. I am free. And I am filled with joy.
**This essay was originally published as part of the Couch rebel essay contest and later published in this book.
“Be present”. Simple and sage, and a great analogy with learning to knit.
“Be present”. Simple and sage. Love the analogy with learning to knit, as well.