Few acts are sweeter than knitting a very soft, tiny hat for a very new baby boy.
Today my not-so-new baby boy tipped right into a mud puddle and, while he recovered at the first promise of a bath, gave himself quite the goose egg. Later on he bent a fingernail back rather fiercely but, thank goodness, did not break it. He is coordinated and sturdy and excellent at catching most every fall, but still we are entering an era of new bumps and bruises as he climbs higher and more daringly. Not a reckless thrill-seeker, he simply prefers rough terrain, the road less traveled. The universe again and again proves how much he is my child.
My little love. This hat I’m knitting isn’t for him; it won’t be able to stretch over his curls, let alone cover that bruise. I don’t want him to be ‘saved’ from his growing pains. It does startle me, though, the literal cry of shock that my own mother body insists on when they happen.
On the one hand,
Thomas is in the middle of some sort of wild phase. My trickster boy has the many hands of Shiva. He is a whirlwind, a magician, in all places at once. Pulling the dog’s tail, eating heaven knows what off the floor, pulling books off the shelves, banging his broom on the table, sneaking under the table to fiddle with the heat register, pulling firewood out from the woodbox, grabbing at the record on the record player, dropping his things in the trash can, hitting me or a table or the dog when he doesn’t get just what he wants, weeping and wailing and clinging when he’s not into mischief, all day, on and on, the patter of little feet and babbling, shouting, chanting words he knows, things he wants, nonsense. He is adorable and exhausting. He is curious and experimental and oh so proud of his accomplishments, and this mama is having to take each moment at a time, to bite her tongue against sarcasm and frustrated mutterings since this little one has begun to parrot so many words and to understand so many things. I find myself setting up camp at my wits’ end, tottering on the edge longer than I thought possible.
On the Other Hand,
I have a new editing job, and an old professor just shared an opportunity for another with our alumni facebook group, so I’ve already sent a sort of inquiry letter. The husband and I are working on spending more evenings reading and fewer on an episode or two of television. I’m spring cleaning my mind, my attitude, my perspective, learning to live in Toddler Time, remembering patience, really paying attention. I have paperwhites and dwarf citrus trees thriving in this woodfired home. We are stocked up on tea, and fresh gingerbread is waiting for us in the kitchen. My son is bold and sturdy and strong and clever and sweet (oh, the kisses! the snuggles! the giggle fits! the spinning sessions in our living room!). I have a whole language to learn (ancient Greek) and a lifetime to learn it. I have a baby-free date with the husband on Friday, and I think I know just the dress for it.
We had just sat down to brunch at our long dining room table. Homemade bread with homemade peach jam. Omelets with locally-grown organic vegetables and local eggs. Locally roasted coffee in handmade mugs. Orange juice in mason jars. Perhaps lacking pinterest-worthy decor, but other than that, maybe my husband’s cousin and her fiancee were right.
At first glance, maybe we are hipsters. Or, as I jokingly said to my husband the other day, “what hipsters wish they could be as they cry into their sparsely-grown beards at night.”
But we’re not hipsters by choice. We eat local eggs and produce and drink local beer because my husband and I volunteer at a brewery and a farm in order to earn them. Our bread, our jam, our scarves and mittens are homemade because we don’t have the funds to buy them in high-quality. We heat with a woodstove because unseasoned wood is cheaper than electric heat. We know how to cook because vegetarian options in smalltown American tend to be pricey or lackluster. We wear thrifted clothes because the amount of money the same things would cost new astound me. I’m a crunchy stay-at-home mother to our son because daycare is a luxury we couldn’t afford with anything less than a fulltime+overtime job, and I can’t imagine being gone from my son that much more than I’m home. He is breastfed and cloth-diapered and his introduction to solids was “baby-led” because we couldn’t afford formula and disposables and mashed peas in jars.
We are not poor. We’re not on welfare or eating government cheese or deep in credit card debt. But we’re both from long lines of Yankees who believed in stubborn ingenuity. We pay extra on our mortgage and car payment. We pay off our credit cards each month and put away a few dollars each week for our son’s future. We make anything that would be too much more expensive to buy. We work with our hands and value our pennies. I do love cabbage and bananas and rice and beans and oats – but I love them because I find them delicious and nourishing, not because they’re all I can afford.
Sometimes I do feel silly for worrying about money when I count up all we have. But I also fiercely want to protect our safety. I don’t ever want to need to seriously worry. I want to pursue multiple options for income to ensure that at least one will come through in a given month. I want to feel a little pinch now so that the rest of my family never need feel it themselves.
So I don’t think we’re like hipsters at all. My husband has a scruffy beard and plays banjo, and I knit and bake. Maybe we’re what the hipsters think they want to be, the way that people want to be starving artists or movie stars without realizing that those people have it just as tough, if not tougher.
We are careful and hardworking.
We are blessed.