Who Flipped the Switch?

Wait a minute! It was warm and now it’s cold. It’s like someone flipped a switch and the seasons are hurtling us toward winter. AAAAAACK!

I looked out the window this morning and the mountains around us are snowy. I’m not talking a wee bit of dusting at the very top, either. I’m not ready; and here it is coming up to Thanksgiving and I’m supposed to be all thankful and grateful and stuff. I’m feeling so conflicted!

Okay, so here’s me, taking some long deep breaths. After spending a couple hours between chat and phone calls to the phone company to try and sort out my account, (I won’t go into gory details. I’m sure you feel my pain.) I’m reaching to pull myself out of this not-so-thankful-and-grateful head space I have found myself in. More long deep breaths. I can do this, I know I can!

Aaaaaaaaahhhhhh… thinking of beautiful new yarn; flowers; knitting projects I get to make; people I love…. Yes! it’s working!

bright-yellow-flowers-in-bunches_4460x4460.jpg

And you know what, I do actually love snow. I love skiing and if we have lots of snow up in the mountains it will create a good base for the ski hill. That’s a good thing too. There we go. I’m feeling a lot better already.

snow-tips-in-clouds_4460x4460.jpg

It’s funny how the nature of life is that there will always be curve-balls of all different shapes and sizes coming at us, no matter who we are or what we do. And it can get you down if you let it. And some days you can roll with it and move on relatively effortlessly. Other days it’s tougher. Yet, there are always reasons to be grateful. It just takes a bit of reaching, you know? I know that I’ve got a pretty wonderful life. I really am very happy about that and I’m grateful for how tremendously blessed I am.

Chalk it up to the human condition.

At the end of the day, I guess we just need a little bit of time to wrap our brains around what’s going on, so we can adjust accordingly. Sometimes, it’s a graceful shift and sometimes it just ain’t pretty. On the days when it ain’t pretty, the challenge is to not let the stuff that has us off base spew out onto other folks who have nothing to do with what’s frustrating us. Everyone knows what it’s like. Everyone can relate. Knowing that makes it easier.

The big thing I have to remind myself on the Murphy’s Law days is that for me to wallow in a crabby mood is nothing more than self-indulgence. And the silly thing is that it doesn’t even feel good to be there. I catch myself with an internal rant going on. That doesn’t feel good either. That rant is so self-righteous. Yet it doesn’t do me any good. It just keeps me spinning around in the muck. It takes a deliberate choice to give myself a shake and reach to let that stuff go. Sometimes it takes several tries to get to where I can step out of the muck and stay out.

And it’s such a relief.

Once I settle back into my usual happy self, it’s such a huge relief. All that negative stuff is really draining.

So today, I salute everyone out there who is having a “Who Flipped the Switch” kind of day. Anyone who got thrown off balance by some stupid curve-ball that life had the gall to throw at them. I feel you! You’re not alone. This too shall pass! I know you know all that stuff. We all do. Sometimes it just helps to know we’re not alone in this messy thing we call life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

Advertisements

Needles: Old, New, and Different

The final stage of Tour-de-sock features a very unusual sock pattern by Kirsten Hall called Sidetracked. I am determined to complete this round, despite my flagging motivation. I have tried a number of different needle combinations hoping to stumble on the ideal combination. I’ve tried some old, some new and some very different.

To put it into perspective, here’s a picture of this round’s socks.

 

The pattern dropped last Saturday at 4:00 am, my local time. I was printing off the pattern and had my first sock underway by 4:20. We planned a trip to visit grandchildren for the long weekend. I was determined to get as much done as possible before we hit the road around 11:00 am. I was grateful that the construction, although strange, was actually pretty fun.

I had the sock on a 60cm circular needle to start and worked the 12 active stitches with a DPN. It was awkward. I ended up with one circular and 4 DPN’s at one point. It was a very strong reminder of why I really prefer not to knit with DPN’s. It’s so easy to drop stitches off them. You don’t want to drop stitches on this pattern! By 4pm, I was feeling pretty done. With one sock barely half way done, I set the project aside and watched the scenery go by until we arrived.

I really struggled to determine how far to knit before beginning the heel and I have to say that I should have stopped a full wrap earlier than I did… which I couldn’t have known until after the heel was complete. By then, there was absolutely no way I was frogging anything. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t take the wind out of my sails. They’ll take longer to finish but they’ll fit my very tall son when they are done.

 

I came home to a big pile of work. I’ve been plugging away in the evenings. I still haven’t finished the first one. I’m ready to begin the cuff, so I’m on the home stretch and the second sock will go easier since I’ll know what to expect. I have until Thursday at 10:00 am to finish.

So yesterday, I was feeling pretty desperate to come up with some way to infuse some fun back into this project. I had a shipment of needles come in and in that order were 25cm circular needles. My supplier was a bit short on numbers and there was one lonely 2.25mm needle among them. That’s the size I’m using for these socks. I’ve had customers tell me that these teenie tiny circulars are God’s gift to sock knitters. (I wasn’t convinced.) What with all the new stock, I had to rearrange the wall in the store to accommodate all the new stuff. In the process I stumbled on the sets of curved DPN’s I had all but forgot I brought in. I figured I’d try these out too.

I pulled out the Neko curved DPN’s. I was immediately disappointed. They are plastic. Sigh. So bendy! I am not crazy about bendy needles. I took a deep breath. I was determined to give them a fair shake despite my initial feeling. I looked at my Sidetracked sock-to-be: didn’t even pick it up. My daughter had requested a pair of socks out of some Lana Grossa Scandic yarn and I had that ball handy. I figured I’d cast one on to try the bendy needles out. These needles look like someone took their DPN’s and tried to bend them to 90 degrees. They are definitely different.

I began my Twisted German cast on, over two of the three needles; I usually cast on over two needles. It was awkward, although in all fairness, it takes getting used to something that is this unusual. By the time I had 15 or 20 stitches cast on, it got easier. It was challenging to get started on these. I found that no matter what I did I kept jabbing myself in the palms of my hands with one end or another. I’ve been knitting long enough to know that the first few rounds are always a bit of a pain and then it’s fine after that. So I continued. My yarn kept getting caught on one of the ends. I really don’t like bendy needles and found that the flexibility of these really irritated me. I assume that the point of these needles is to be an improvement on DPN’s. I’m not convinced. But bear in mind that I abandoned DPN’s for sock knitting a long time ago in favour of circulars. I got about 4 rounds of twisted rib knitted and I had to set it aside. I tried having the tips of the passive needle above the active needle, then below; I tried flipping it toward the back. I don’t know. I didn’t see any videos with continental knitting on curved DPN’s. Perhaps that’s the issue. I will pick it up again after the Tour is finished and see if they’ll grow on me. For now, the jury is out on these.

20180907_085945

I then picked up the Knitter’s Pride Dreamz 25cm circular and transfered my Sidetracked sock onto it. The sock fits nicely. The needle tips are short. I thought they’d put up resistance as I’d knit with them because the cord is so short, but honestly I didn’t notice once I started to knit. This needle is a huge improvement over what I was doing. Heavens! What a relief. I like a longer needle tip so I can use my pinkies to anchor my movements against the needles. These tips are too small to do that without scootching my fingers close together. That will take a bit of getting used to. But you know,  I was quite surprised, but I really do like these… a lot. The only downside is that they’re too small to try the sock on, unless you were to use two of them.

Happy Knitting!

A Knitter Was Born

In the mid 1970’s, my parents got a call from Mom’s cousin, my Tante Gertrud. It seemed their son, Peter, was bored in school and was inclined toward mischief. Well, was it any surprise (cough, cough) that my parents and Peter’s parents decided that I would be the one from our family to send off to Germany to take Peter’s place while Peter came and took my place here in Canada? We were to spend a year away, going to school in each others’ countries. I was thrilled and beyond excited at the opportunity.

german-flag-on-rooftop_4460x4460
Photo by Brodie Vissers from Burst 

I didn’t speak German at the time. That having been said, up until my sister’s first day of school, our family only spoke German at home. When she came home from school, distraught, Dad (being an all-or-nothing kind of guy) decided that we would no longer speak any German at home. After all, we were in Canada and English was the language in our province. I was just beginning to speak when this edict came down. I was primed to speak German and then “poof” everyone switched to English. When I was ready to go to Germany at 11 years old, I could count to ten and I knew how to say “Gummistiefel” (gum boots) and “Leberwurst” (liver sausage). You know, just the really important words.

What a tremendous opportunity! We headed out in August, and before I knew it I was in school. Classes began much earlier in the morning than I was accustomed to. But we were finished by mid day when we would go home. The exception was for physical education, which we would do one afternoon per week. Our big meal was at mid-day. After we ate, we’d have a short siesta and then it was homework time.

The girls took sewing classes during school hours.

We were expected to take measurements and design patterns that we would then sew. The teacher would guide us as to the proportions of the various pattern pieces. That was grade 6! We were also expected to join a “Handarbeit” club. This was a club where we learned knitting, crochet, embroidery and other such needle crafts. We chose which craft we wanted to do and went to the weekly session for that particular craft. I chose knitting. My mom was a knitter but she didn’t have the patience to teach me so I was determined to embrace this opportunity.

I was excited!

I went to the first meeting and was handed a set of needles and some bright red yarn. The teacher sat with me (the only one in the group with no experience) and patiently guided me through a long-tail cast on. I cast on, and ripped it apart for the whole session. Then I went home and continued. But by the end of that day, I could do the cast on.

My aunt took me yarn shopping the next day. I was to take some time and find something that I liked to make a scarf. The scarves at the time were worn down to your knees or shins. So I wandered through the store, delighted that I had permission to touch everything. My aunt suggested I short list three yarns and then decide. Well, my three choices were cashmere, alpaca and a blend of cashmere and silk. I had no understanding of the pricing of any of the yarns, I just went for what I liked. The clerk and my aunt both had a good laugh that I already had a taste for the good stuff. I was then guided to the displays of acrylic yarns. I made a selection of a rich chestnut brown and a creamy ivory to go with it.

The following week I attended the club and when I pulled out my yarn I was admonished for my colour choice.

“What?!” Yeah. You see, in Germany at that time, if you wore a scarf, it was the way you indicated your support for a soccer team. Soccer was king. It likely still is, but I haven’t been back to Germany since the 1980’s so I couldn’t say for sure. In Bavaria, you either wore blue and white, or red and white. That was it. So my choice of brown and cream confounded my knitting compatriots. I just shrugged my shoulders and asked them who their favourite hockey team was. That was the end of the discussion. I pretended that my colours were hockey colours. Although to be honest, I had never thought about sports teams’ colours before.

close-up-holding-soccer-ball_4460x4460.jpg
Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst 

For the following three weeks, I practiced knitting and purling on my offset 2×2 ribbed scarf. I spent a lot of time frogging. And eventually, I had an appropriately long scarf. Other kids were knitting socks with cables and lace, or cardigans with bobbles. Some were knitting doilies. We were expected to show our progress to the sewing teacher to show that we were actually doing the work. Our efforts counted toward our marks.

I don’t remember the Handarbeit teacher’s name. But I remember her face and her patient, kind voice. I remember how gentle she was as she showed me over and over what to do until I finally got it. If she was feeling exasperated with me, she never showed it. I remember her celebrating my successes with me and getting cheers out of the other kids when I got it right. That club was a foundational experience for me. She set the tone for one-on-one teaching for me. She gave me permission to be a raw beginner. And she inspired me. She told me that one day, if I just kept plugging away trying new projects, that I could knit anything that she could. I was in awe of the beautiful things she had made. Later, any time I was scared to try a new technique, I would hear her voice gently encouraging me to embrace being a beginner with this new thing.

StockSnap_CR4FKGO3YG.jpg

That year, a knitter was born.

Happy knitting

Thanks, Barbie!

When I was a kid there was no toy I loved more than my Barbie doll. And I have Barbie to thank for starting me on the path that brought me to where I am now. There are a lot of Barbie-haters out there. For the record, I never once imagined that anyone might ever have a body like a Barbie doll. That would be like thinking that if I studied hard, my head might get as big as a Chibi character’s. (Adorably cute little Japanese characters with disproportionately large heads.)

Over the years, Barbie (in all her many incarnations) was marketed creatively. They had a Barbie with every possible career going. From Pet Store Barbie to Doctor Barbie, Mattel gave girls a way to envision themselves in almost any career. And no, there was not a Dressmaker Barbie or a Yarn Shop Barbie; at least not that I know of. LOL! Barbie’s hand in my life path was a little less direct than that.

barbies-2

My younger sister and I had (and still have) fantastic imaginations. We loved to play Barbies. At one time we used Touch-Lite boxes to hold the floors of a high-rise building with an elevator fashioned out of a bra box, packaging string and some pulleys we took from Dad’s shop. We actually hid it behind boxes of stock that our parents were storing in the rec room for their retail store. Friends of our parents saved their empty cigarette packages and we made furniture out of them. We cut up old clothes that were destined for the thrift shop and glued the fabric onto the cigarette pack furniture to upholster it. Some of them we painted. We made couches and chairs, coffee tables, dressers, you name it. We never asked permission to take the pulleys or the string or some other things we used… shelves for the floors and so on. So we tried to keep it secret. When Dad found it and called us over, we expected to be in trouble for “stealing” things from the shop. But he was actually impressed with our ingenuity and resourcefulness. It was definitely a team effort!

But alas, our Barbie dolls’ wardrobes were sadly limited.

image from Ashley and the Noisemakers

My dad, after saving up for two years, bought a Bernina sewing machine for Mom. It was a thing of beauty! It was in a wood veneer cabinet with drawers and fancy hardware. Looking back now, it probably wasn’t as fancy as it seemed. By today’s standards it might have been considered tacky, for that matter. But to me, back then, it was pretty glorious. And then I was told without any doubt that it was absolutely off limits to me. I was not to so much as look at it, let alone touch it… or (heaven forbid) sew with it!

Ah, but I always had a rebellious streak.

After school, there was always time before Mom and Dad came home from work. My sister and I were responsible for housework during those hours. Our siblings were older and helped in the store. And the Bernina would call out to me… like the Lorelei! “Judy… where are you? Don’t you want to sew? Don’t you want to know how I work? No one will know if you don’t tell them…”

To start with, I didn’t intend to touch the sewing machine. Honest! I was just going to look at it… maybe flip through the user’s manual. But I couldn’t stop there. I read the user’s manual from cover to cover. (Who does that, by the way?!) And then I became aware of a garbage can next to the cabinet. What do you know? There were small pieces of fabric in that garbage can. I figured, if it’s in the garbage it’s fair game. So I took every small piece of discarded fabric. I wound a piece of thread onto a small piece of paper, found a hand sewing needle and (feeling like a thief) spirited it off to my bedroom.

basket-scraps

I honestly meant to only just sew things by hand. I realized that my scissors were not adequate for cutting fabric. So I would sneak the scissors from the sewing room… always careful to notice just how they were laying on the desk so I could orient them exactly as I found them. I took a few pins next so I could shape the fabric around my Barbie’s body. I cut the fabric into pieces and carefully stitched them together with the needle and thread. That was when I learned about seam allowance. After hours of hand stitching and many little pricks to my fingers, my masterpiece was too small. I cried. But I learned.

sewing-tools-corner-flatlay_925x

And I decided that hand sewing was for the birds!

From there I got braver. I started experimenting with the machine. Ever so careful to put everything back just as I found it. Little by little, I made clothing for Barbie. Sometimes I would have to wait because I ran out of scraps of fabric. But I stuck with it. With every top and every dress, every pair of pants or hat, I learned something new. Sewing curves onto straight lines, darts, tucks, snaps… it all started with my beloved Barbie, some curiosity and a whole lot of creativity and tenacity.

I honestly believed that Mommy didn’t know. In hindsight, she obviously did. After all, my Barbie went from having 2 outfits to a plentiful wardrobe made of fabrics that she had discarded. I mean, seriously, she had to have known. But believing she didn’t made it exciting and daring. I felt guilty, yet exhilarated at the same time. No wonder I loved to sew so much!

I’m so deeply grateful that my mother allowed me to believe that I was sewing in secret; that she allowed me to embark on my journey of discovery and follow my sparks of interest and inspiration. And I’m so grateful that I had that Barbie doll… and that my parents had refused to spend money on clothing for her!

Thanks, Barbie! And even more, thanks Mom!

Image from here

On Competition: A Double Edged Sword

Participating in this event has me thinking a lot about the nature of competition.

Tour-de-Sock is well underway. Stage Two officially began on Wednesday at 10:00 am my local time. I completed my stage two socks in the wee hours of the morning today. Participating in this event has me thinking a lot about the nature of competition. I have always had a healthy dose of competitive spirit. Sometimes — a lot of times — that’s a really good thing. It can be an excellent motivator. Sometimes it can be a bit of a double edged sword; sometimes it can be downright destructive.

As a kid growing up in a German immigrant family, the expectation for excellence was a visceral thing. The desire and need to impress my parents and teachers was all consuming. Not measuring up was simply not an option. The trouble was that I never actually knew what I was trying to measure up to. So I learned to shake hands with my two best friends: Perfectionism and Competitiveness. Only what I didn’t realize was that they were actually, what is that word… frienemies?

As a card-carrying over-achiever, I pushed myself beyond anything sensible.

As a card-carrying over-achiever, I pushed myself beyond anything sensible. The drive to be best was encouraged without moderation. But it’s an empty quest. That set the stage for my whole life. Am I good at doing stuff? You bet! I’m very good at what I do. And there came a point in my life when I began to realize that this competitive drive was more than just a good “work ethic”. It became clear that it was a set up; it was a form of programming that kept me believing that no matter what, I would never be enough. I’d never be fast enough, thorough enough, efficient enough, skilled enough… or any number of other fill-in-the-blank enoughs too numerous to mention. Having that message running through your neuro-pathways in a never ending loop self deprecation. YUCK!

Many years ago I read a book called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruis. One of the “agreements” that he speaks of is to always do your best. And it’s how he defines “best” that really helped me to re-frame this perfectionist subroutine in my psyche. Your best, is whatever your best is in that moment in time. For instance, if I had a great sleep and my perfect breakfast and I’m feeling fantastic, my best will be sparkly and impressive. However, if I have the flu, my best won’t compare very well.

When my kids were small, I wrestled with just how much I should encourage competition. A lot of the time, I’d simply avoid dealing with it because I simply didn’t know what constituted a healthy level.

Over the years of being an evolving work-in-progress

Over the years of being an evolving work-in-progress, I have come to understand that healthy competition is a great way to motivate growth and skill development. And IMHO, the best form of competition is when I deliberately compete with myself. I want to see how much I can improve my performance over the last time I checked it against a known benchmark. It’s with this attitude that I approach Tour-de-sock.

Each person competing has their own goal as to what they hope to get out of the TDS experience. I don’t know what all the other people’s goals are. Some, clearly want to be the fastest and take that first place spot. Some just want to knit socks and experience some camaraderie while they do. Others want to support the charity, Doctors Without Borders. Some want to use each stage of the competition to challenge their personal skill level, and in that perhaps learn some new techniques.

I am part of a team

I am part of a team; our team is pretty laid back and I like it that way. There is no expectation that we should all be super-knitters. The expectation is that we will each allow the TDS experience to be a good one: one that fills whatever it is we would like it to fill. So if that means that one of us would like to connect with other knitters who like to knit socks and don’t care whether they finish any of the socks within the cut-off period, that’s perfect. I want to be a team member who appreciates their presence for exactly what it is. This year, I want to push myself to see what I’m capable of (within reason). But I certainly don’t expect anyone else to share my specific goal. I just want us all to be able to feel the joy that knitting brings us.

To Stock, or Not to Stock…

In small town retail, deciding what to stock (and how much of it) is an ongoing process and an inexact science.

  • Trends come and go;
  • supply lines change;
  • economies change.

Discerning what to keep or not can be challenging. One of the things I love about having a store is that I can decide what I want to buy to put on the shelves. A lot goes into that decision-making process.

The Base-Line Stuff

There are certain staples that I just have to have on hand.

  • Basic sewing notions;
  • knitting and crochet tools
  • and accessories;
  • a good cross-section of elastic;
  • scissors…

you know, all those fundamental things that sewing and fibre arts enthusiasts need for their projects. These no-brainer items are easy to recognize and you simply have to have them… whatever your small business niche happens to be.

Direct customer requests

A lot of what I have on my shelves is there because a customer special ordered it.

Most of the time if one person asks for it, others will want it too. Often customers will ask me for something and it’s a product that should be a staple in my store… I just didn’t think of it before they asked.

Sometimes they introduce me to new products that I didn’t even know existed.

Minimums

With many products, suppliers require that you purchase a minimum number.

Each colour of yarn comes in bags of either 5, 6 or 10, for instance. Other products have different prices depending on how many you buy. If you buy singles, you pay more; yet hey, in a small town, I can’t say that I need to buy 1,000 or 10,000 of anything! So the higher singles price it often must be. With a lot of the little items, (like sewing notions) they give you a small break if you order multiples of either 3 or 5. It may not be a lot, (often it’s only pennies difference) but it all helps. This can make a difference as to whether I decide to order it or not.

Colour Choices

With yarn in particular, each line has a variety of colourways.

Although some only have 6 or 8 colours available, some of them can have between 60 and 70 different colours each. It’s unrealistic for me to carry every colour of every yarn I have in the shop.

Choosing the colours can be both fun and frustrating.

I would love to have them all. Shortlisting from 60 to 8 can be tough! When I bring in a new line of yarn, I usually go through what is available and start with neutrals and basics. I might start with 6 or 8 colours to begin with. Once I get some feedback from customers I can then decide whether to continue carrying that yarn and to expand the colour selection, or to sell it off and focus on something different. Then, if I’m placing an order and I don’t have quite enough to make the minimum order, I may look to see what new colour I’d like to carry in an established line to top up the order.

Supplier Rapport

Each supplier has its own personality.

Their energy can range from feeling like family to quite formal to downright frenetic. If a company is going through changes (like implementing a new computer system; or was just bought out) there can be a lot of chaos going on for them. Orders can be mixed up or lost. Ordering from a company that is chaotic can be stressful… and can make the difference between deciding not to bother with their product and just ordering from someone else.

  • If the people who answer the phone are extremely difficult to understand, orders can end up incorrect.
  • If the staff is constantly changing it can be difficult to sustain a good rapport with the company. If a company makes promises it can’t keep, it affects me. Especially if those promises involve special orders.
  • Websites that are not maintained can create unrealistic expectations regarding product availability.

All these factors come into play. If ordering from one company is stressful and I can get what I want from a different company with whom ordering is friendly and easy, I’ll go where the least stress is. Over time, you build relationships with your suppliers. They get to know what your business needs and they can often make helpful suggestions regarding new products or programs that they offer.

The Cool Stuff

And yeah, there’s just some stuff that is so cool, you gotta have it on hand.

It may be a funky take on something from the basic tools category. It may be a more luxurious version of something basic. Sometimes I just really like something and I can’t resist ordering it.

Shifting Times and Trends

Once you have a bunch of stock on the shelves there comes a point when you also have to decide whether you enough of it moves to justify the real estate it takes up.

As a trend starts to inch toward its end it can be hard to know when to sign off on it. I have made the mistake of reordering when I should have cleared off the shelf. And that can be tough to discern. You win some, you lose some.

Cash Flow

And isn’t that the biggest determining factor for most things?

At the end of the day, you have to be able to pay your bills. It’s easy to get carried away buying stuff. I don’t know any small business owner who hasn’t had that moment when the feeling in the pit of their stomach makes them pray that their buying choices will pay off. It usually works itself out though.

At the end of the day, choosing the stuff to sell in my store is the best part of my job. And when the parcels arrive, it’s like Christmas! What’s not to love?

Happy Mother’s Day

From the time we are born and through all the stages of our lives,

our perspective on what “mother” means evolves and changes.

Our understanding of the role of mother changes along with our relationships with those people who fill that role in our lives.

As a child, my mom was the one who baked the bread, stoked the fire (we didn’t have electricity for some time), tucked us in and determined which transgressions warranted the dreaded,

“wait until your father comes home!”

As I got older, and wrestled with the concept that my mom was actually just a person, my perspective shifted. How dare she not be supernatural, after all? How dare she not know all the answers? How dare she not be perfect? How dare she not be, well, a Goddess?

My grandmothers lived in Germany.

I didn’t get to see them very often. I envied the kids who had local grandmothers who spoiled them and regularly did fun things with them. (Although, I always thought I had them beat that my Oma and I got to see a family of skunks walk within a couple feet of us one day when we were peeling potatoes outdoors under a big tree. Baby skunks are the cutest!)

I loved my grandmothers in a way that was very different from the way I loved my mom.

When I became a mother, my paradigm spun around, did a back flip and landed with a whole new outlook. Suddenly I was holding a tiny human being in my arms. That tiny human being looked up at me with absolute trust. In that moment, my whole world was rocked. I realized that this job, this role called “motherhood” was going to be the single most important thing I would ever do in my life. This little human’s whole world was going to be affected by every choice I made on her behalf, every word I whispered, spoke or yelled. It was the single most humbling moment of my life. It gave me pause to look back over my childhood and assess misconceptions I had toward my own mother. It made me wonder how she had managed raising five of us. The sheer responsibility of it all was a little overwhelming. And I resolved to channel my inner Mama Grizzly Bear on my little baby’s behalf.

As my kids got older and made their way through all their stages, I did my best to be there for them. I also did my best to make sure they knew that I was flying by the seat of my pants without a “User’s Manual”. And at the end of the day, I made sure to do everything in my power to make sure they knew that I loved them and that no matter what, I would have their backs.

And now that my kids are grown and have lives of their own, my role in their lives has changed… and yet it hasn’t.

I still maintain that at the end of the day I want them to know that I love them and that I have their backs. When they need desperately to vent about some frustration in their lives, or to celebrate a victory, I want them to know that I feel blessed to be their sounding board. They happily return the favour for me. These days, it isn’t just my kids. It’s also my partner’s “kids” and all their partners too. And I love that they are part of this circle.

mom-and-son-having-fun

My mother passed away a number of years ago.

I feel fortunate to have developed a wonderful relationship with my Mother-in-law. We are together every day, and it’s a fabulous thing. We are there for each other and have each other’s backs.

And so motherhood evolves into grandmotherhood.

My spell-check says that this is not a word; I vehemently disagree. And it’s a very interesting shift. There is a different kind of connection in this new role. The stress of just keeping those little buggers alive every day is not my stress any more. Now it’s just about the love. How cool is that?

To me, entering into grandmotherhood is like being honoured with a distinctive promotion into a revered position of trust. That’s just the best! Well, that and the hugs from wee little arms, the smiles from wee little lips and the video clips of  “I love you, Oma!” that melt my heart every time I replay them.

infant-on-shoulder

No one ever said that being a mother would be easy. And it isn’t. But man, it’s the most rewarding role I could ever imagine holding.

Here’s to celebrating all the people who have held the role of mother in our lives.

Happy Mother’s Day

 

 

 

 

pictures thanks to:  Samantha Hurley and Nicole De Khors from Burst