Grace for dropped stitches

Well hi there! Things around here have been more than a bit hectic for the last few weeks, as evidenced by the total lack of activity on this little blog–not least because a certain young man has started to not only crawl, but also pull himself up on furniture, yank things off shelves, and just generally wreak adorable havoc wherever he goes.

Exhibit A: Dumping out the clean laundry and creating a fort from the basket.

Gone are the days when I could put him down somewhere safe with a favorite toy, and actually expect him to stay there while I emptied the dishwasher or switched clothes from the washer to the dryer. Don’t get me wrong, I am completely thrilled by his growth and development, but the more mobile he gets the more creative I have to be to keep him safe while getting life done (as a stereotypical first born, he despises his play yard on principle, no matter how many fun things are in there). What usually happens is that I scramble frantically to Do All The Things while he naps, and it’s like he’s got some kind of radar–the second I finish the last Thing, he wakes up ready to play!

Also, Asher loves both books and yarn with a deep and abiding passion. This is exactly what I wanted for our child when I was pregnant, as those are two things that have brought Dave and I endless wonder and joy. HOWEVER, I expected him to start loving them when he was a wee bit older, and wasn’t primarily deriving pleasure from things through his valiant efforts to choke on them. Mama can’t really read or knit in front of Baby when he immediately NEEDS whatever I’m holding to be in his mouth…and he can now merrily crawl over to me and retrieve the desired object in no time flat. Hashtag facepalm.

“I don’t know what she’s talking about, I would never do such a thing!”

Combine these two factors, and you have a devoted knitter and reader who has rapidly dwindling opportunities to do either…which is the reason why I was knitting a complicated pattern on Tuesday night while simultaneously reading a really interesting book. See? It’s completely not my fault that I was doing something kinda dumb. I wasn’t setting myself up for failure, I was a victim of circumstances. I had no other choice. Et cetera.

So, I’m knitting along on this pattern (which I had already repeated enough times to have memorized) and reading along in my book, and it’s all going swimmingly UNTIL, dun dun dun…I dropped a stitch. I knew it immediately, but not because I saw it happen–as we’ve established, I was being a nincompoop and not looking at what I was doing–I knew because I felt it happen. Dropping a stitch isn’t that big of a deal, as long as you notice it right away and are able to fix whatever collateral damage has occurred. Not noticing, however, can literally cause an entire project to unravel, because every stitch in a knitted fabric is linked to every other stitch, and losing one can mean losing all.

(Note to self: Explore knitting as a metaphor for social justice sometime in the near future.)

I’m a really experienced knitter. I’ve been doing it for over 20 years, and there’s so much muscle memory built up that I’m far more likely to feel a problem happen than to see it happen. And when it does, I stop, examine my work, suss out the wayward stitches, make the necessary corrections with minimal fuss (usually; I’m only human), and carry on.

That’s what I did on Tuesday night. I put down the book, retrieved the lost stitch, rearranged myself on the couch, and I was off to the races again. And then I stopped, and wondered to myself how long I would have to do this motherhood thing before I could take a problem in stride that easily. When will the day come that I can feel something going wrong even before I see it, examine the situation, suss out the wayward attitude or word or desire or whatever, make the necessary correction with minimal fuss (usually, since my child and I are only human), and carry on? When will motherhood be as simple as that?

After much deliberation, I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer is… it probably won’t. Many things about motherhood have evolved into instinct as Asher has grown and I’ve gotten more practice, and I’m actively engaged in expanding my parenting toolbox. So, I have lots of hope that I can, and will, continue to get better at being his Mama… But, maybe the day will never actually come when something as complex and nuanced as raising a child will feel like second nature, something I could do with my eyes shut. Maybe it’s not even supposed to.

Honestly, that prospect is pretty frightening for me. I thrive on mastering things, and one of the reasons that I like knitting so much is because I’m good at it–even the stuff that I struggle with feels like a puzzle to solve, not proof that I should quit. Now, on the journey of motherhood, I am being forced to learn moment by agonizing moment to give grace to myself, because this is not something I ever expect to truly master.

I need to give grace to myself when I have no idea what I’m doing, grace when I try my darnedest but still don’t get it right, grace when my own selfishness stands in direct opposition to the needs of my tiny human. Lord have mercy, I especially need to show myself grace when I do something that’s just plain old stupid.

I would like to think that at the end of the day, Asher will benefit more from a mother who has fought hard and learned to show grace even to herself, than a mother for whom the whole thing came easily. And, since that second one isn’t actually an option, I am committing myself to becoming an imperfect mother who knows how to give and receive grace.

And that will only happen one mistake, one dropped stitch at a time. Here goes.

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