Ease-in to Motherhood

July 5, 2017   /   byCation Designs  / Categories :  Feeds
Thanks for inviting me to be part of the conversation on sewing and motherhood, Erin!

Before SHB, I used to get slightly annoyed whenever one of the sewing bloggers on my feed reader would announce her pregnancy, because I knew that she would either 1) post much less frequently, or even disappear entirely, and/or 2) start sewing irrelevant-to-me items, either baby things or maternity/nursing garments. Oh pre-motherhood Cation, what a selfish, clueless sewing blogger you were! The minute you had SHB, you basically became all those things, even going so far as co-hosting a sewalong centered around sewing for small human beings! I can't remember the last time I sewed a non-costume garment for myself (although to be perfectly honest, I was such a prolific sewer before pregnancy that I really didn't need to keep sewing to keep myself clothed), and the last thirty things I've sewn have all been plushies for SHB. So yeah. But let's talk in more detail about how motherhood has changed my sewing.

As I'm sure is the case for many of you, sewing is a vital creative activity that keeps my brain active and my heart happy. In my early sewing years, I relished finding ways to use the crazy fabrics I was finding at thrift stores in the form of bedsheets, and making fit-and-flare dresses out of them became part of my identity: I was a quirky green Ms. Frizzle wannabe who wore her fandoms on her sleeve (literally), I knew what looked good on my body and had the time and means to dress it how I wanted. After the fashion-related insecurity and teasing of my pre-teen years, it was such a relief and release to be me and, as I got older, the more I realized I only needed and cared to please myself. Sewing was the vehicle to self-love for me, not only with my body but with my mind and talents.

And then I found out I was having SHB. Suddenly I wasn't a selfish seamstress anymore, and while I did still sew for myself, I had so much fun making cute things for my coming baby, too! Having a baby meant rediscovering my love for sewing non-garment items, as well as discovering new forms of sewing expression, such as quilting. I was excited and felt like new worlds were being opened to me.

Then I actually had SHB, and it was miserable. He was bad at sleeping (I wore him in the Ergo and bounced on a trampoline to get him to nap for the first six months of his life), I was tired beyond belief (hello, 9 PM bedtime in anticipation of waking up five times every night!), and when I had a moment to myself (rare, as we didn't have any regular babysitters and I nursed SHB until he was two), I was so brain-dead I couldn't make my mind work enough to go through the mental exercise of sewing. I started just sleeping or wasting time on Pinterest when I had free time, but was still confused about my ongoing grumpiness until I realized that I wasn't creating, and I missed and needed it. Talking to other creative moms (mostly sewing bloggers I met through here!) helped me realize that what I needed more than sleep was to Make Things Again. I don't remember who said it, but basically what I needed to do was at least one irreversible thing every day. So many of my life tasks were reversible (baby needs to eat again! dishes need to be washed again! toys need to be picked up again! papers need to be graded again!) that I felt like I was in the Red Queen's race, running and running just to stay in the same place (or actually fall behind, TBH).

Once I realized things needed to change, I made a plan to Get My Life Back. For me, this meant sleep-training SHB. I realize that that's a controversial decision in a lot of parenting circles (and I had my fair share of nights crying while he cried because I was afraid that I was damaging him forever by not going to him), but it was the best thing I could have done for us. It took several months (like I said, terrible sleeper), but once SHB was out of our bed and out of our room, I finally had the space (physically and mentally) to create again. Even if all I was making was simple items for him, it was enough to see concrete evidence that I had Done Something With My Day. Around the same time, I was hosting the SHB Sewalong with Mikhaela and Clio and just having other sewing moms to commiserate with helped me see the importance of community. As my social psych prof used to say in college, misery loves miserable company, and while we weren't necessarily miserable, I felt so much better knowing that I wasn't the only one trying to figure out how to manage a needy, demanding being while still being one's own person with hobbies and a changing body that needed to be clothed.

SHB finally started sleeping through the night at around a year, and since his 7:30-8 PM bedtime is fairly early, I get the whole rest of the evening to be an adult. Sometimes that's sewing, sometimes that's just catching up on adulting tasks, but it's glorious to know that my nights are my own again (especially since I'm a night owl...midnight bedtime means I get a few hours to myself). I'd say that around the 18 month mark was when I felt like I really had a handle on this whole motherhood-while-not-just-only-being-a-mother-I'm-my-own-person-too business, and it's only gotten better as SHB becomes more independent and verbal. Now, at almost three, SHB has enough of an attention span and his own interests that I can even sew during the day sometimes; of course, that's only if the items are for him...

While I've mostly reclaimed my creative time, I'm still working on how to reclaim my style. All those fun sheet dresses I made (mostly) still fit before I got pregnant again, but they're really not practical as a parent of a toddler. I'm satisfied with living out my geekiness in cosplay instead of everyday life; I don't think quirky clothing is as central to my identity as creating is. I believe strongly enough in slow fashion to not sew when I don't technically need to, so I think this is one of the areas where I'm content to wait and see. I'll wait until I'm done nursing for good to see where my body settles, and then decide what kind of style suits me then.


Now that those I'm-so-tired-I-hate-my-life-why-did-I-decide-to-have-a-kid moments are a (somewhat) distant memory, I sometimes wonder why I'm subjecting myself to the horror of having another small human being; I think knowing that the newborn months are short will help me make it through to the toddler years, which I find much more enjoyable. I have more mom friends now, both online and IRL, which will hopefully make a difference when I'm in the worst of the sleep deprivation and demands of two small human beings. I'm hoping that since I'm more experienced now, both as a mom and as a person, I'll recognize sooner the importance of having my own time to create, and make an effort to make room for it. My self-care mantra in this past year has consisted of trying to remind myself of the truth of the airplane oxygen mask -- take care of yourself first so that you can take care of your child -- instead of succumbing to the lie that I'm being selfish by not giving of myself constantly. We'll see how it goes in a few weeks when SHB#2 arrives!


This is a syndicated post. Please visit the original author at Cation Designs

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