Were you thinking about making some of your holiday items? Did you get it done?
I will be honest, I am not a Halloween person. I am not against it, and I love pumpkins and candy and spooky stuff and fun parties as much as the next person, but I've never been good at pretend. My mom tells me that I was always this way, even as a child.
A year ago yesterday, I was writing on this blog about what it feels like when you know that your life is about to change drastically the very next day. A year ago today, I was at the hospital giving birth to my second son, Wilder.
The weather has cooled, have you pulled out your sweaters yet? Did you ever put them away? I'm not trying to make you feel bad, I'm just wondering.
Recently a friend told me that she thought I handled stress better than she did. I was surprised, and not at all sure that was true, but it got me thinking about the ins and outs of how I handle challenges; about which things are working and which habits have room for improvement.
Minnesotans are a pretty quiet bunch. We are serious and pretty hard-working, not too comfortable with flash and luxury, and for the most part we are busy worker bees. However, we do harbor one indulgent habit...we stretch our summer weekends past the normal boundaries. There are just not enough of them, so instead, we wiggle around the rules.
That's the only piece of clothing that I have bought so far in 2017. There have been a few other close calls...some pajamas had to be returned, some trendy printed weirdly flattering leggings caught my attention briefly, and a beautiful Mexican embroidered blouse also had to go back...that was the hardest one. It was so pretty, but ultimately I had to admit that I already had a shirt very similar to it in my closet.
The average American buys sixty-four items of clothing per year, and most years I'm sure I am somewhere in that neighborhood. I didn't start 2017 with a big plan to buy no clothes, but budget and life constraints conspired, and suddenly five months had gone by without me noticing what had happened. Now it's a thing, and I'm tempted to see if I can go the whole year. Leave it to the curve balls of life to force me back onto a healthier, more mindful path.
According to a 2014 Forbes article cited in a Fashion Revolution white paper, we purchase 400% more clothing than we did just twenty years ago. And that was just twenty years ago, My house was built almost sixty years ago, and my tiny closets remind me every day how different our shopping habits are today.
I have been digging around a little bit to find out more about this idea...did people just buy fewer clothing items in 1960? Why or why not? I asked my mom about the closets and clothing of her youth. What she remembers is that her mom was willing to buy her as much fabric as she wanted in order to make her own clothes, but that if she wanted store-bought clothing, her choices were more limited. I asked her if making her own clothes saved her family money, and her memory was that her mother was encouraging self-sufficiency, rather than trying to save money, which was not what I expected her to say.
So the question is, how many items of clothing do we really need? Do I need bigger closets or more discipline? (Probably both.) If there is an item which is an unusual shape, or made of a special fabric, or is something suitable for a special occasion, generally the result is that it's not worn as often. So we have a closet imbalance, with large volumes of special items that get worn once and a while, and then a much smaller volume of items that are worn in regular rotation. Is that normal? Is that inappropriate? I still ask...why do we need, or think we need, so much clothing? It feels like I still have more questions than answers on this topic, and I am wondering what others are doing...are you changing your closets? Buying less? Moving to a newer and bigger house with glorious, well-lit walk-in closets?
Are you wondering what was so special about that one skirt? It is brick-red suede, and simply beautiful. I spotted it while still pregnant and unable to buy or even wear it. But it became a birthday present when, no longer pregnant, I saw it again at a super sale price. I could think of nothing else for days. How is it that clothing holds such power over us?
This year we moved out of a bungalow built in 1920 and into a rambler built in 1960. I'm not always excited about the change, although in some ways I have been pleasantly surprised. For example, I do not really miss having a third floor (at least for practical matters like having small children in tow). I am, however, bedeviled by our closets. Our 1920s house had added closets from a prior renovation, so we were not experiencing the full storage crisis that we should have been. Our 1960 house needs more closets. More, bigger, with lights in them, closets.
Changes in the day-to-day operation of our family have turned me into a true stay-at-home mom. The kind where I was the big pregnant mama dragging my toddler around everywhere this summer, and the kind where now the new baby is by my side for every hour of the day. I find the intensity of non-stop kid quite challenging, as I'm sure most caregivers do. I also learn a lot, which may sound odd, but since our family has grown, and the amount of day care that I use has shrunk, I am, more often than I was in the past, struck by the minutiae of the young lives for which I am responsible.
It never occurred to me that you can do other things while holding a baby until my mom came to help me after the birth of our first son. I watched her shushing him while she baked cookies and sewed nursery curtains, and even tried to paint my dining room table with her remaining free hand. I put my foot down about the table, but I admired her spirit and have never forgotten the example she set.
We've known for a while that we might be moving this year. We had been hoping to delay it until Spring, mostly because it seemed like a nightmare to move during winter and but also because we knew that we would have a newborn during late fall this year, greatly exacerbating the complexity of the move. However, we concluded just after the birth of our son that it was actually critical for us to move sooner than later, so I was suddenly faced with what I considered a worst-case relocation scenario: selling the house during holiday season, with a new baby, moving in the dead of winter, all on a super tight budget. Yuck.
I have been trying, and failing, to write this post for an entire month.
We are selling our house and I'm pretty sad. It's a house that we moved into with our older baby, and where I have been nursing our new baby. It was the first place I have lived in my almost forty years that I thought I could stay in forever.
The newest member of our family is already five weeks old, and there is no doubt that despite my efforts to stay relaxed about everything, I am itching to get stuff done, and to get out and about more than I did when we had our first son.
As a result, when the baby refuses to sleep in the crib, which is common for most of his designated naps, I'm instead walking around with him slung over one arm, seeking tasks that can be accomplished while using the other available hand. I'm learning fast and sometimes take pleasure in this most supreme multi-tasking challenge.
Several years ago, I wrote a post about some feelings I was having after my first son was born. He came into the world suddenly, significantly early and largely without warning. It struck me how we feel one way on a certain day, and then suddenly something major happens, and everything is topsy-turvy, never to be exactly the same as it was. I was intrigued by looking backwards at the feelings and details of life just prior to the event, fascinated by of the blissfully-unaware-of-what's-coming feeling, and by how the curve ball comes and rearranges life forever.
Today is a new version of that feeling, because I already know that today is another one of those days before. I am already tuned in to the fact that tomorrow morning, somewhere around 7:30 a.m., my life will be forever changed. This is what it is to have a scheduled delivery of your baby. Not a method in favor by the doulas and midwives so in vogue right now, but the method that is the best for me in this particular pregnancy.
I organized the nursery much earlier this time. I thought my preparation schedule last time was appropriate, but I was wrong. We ended up in the hospital for an emergency delivery on the day that the crib was scheduled to be delivered and we were (translation: my mom was) sewing curtains while I nursed and pumped madly. Babies have their own schedules.
The truth is that I didn't want to be a mom until later in my life. Somewhere around thirty-three or so is when I got curious, and it wasn't until thirty-five that I felt confident in wanting to go for it, or at least in opening the door to it. Kids were, in the opinion of the members of my marriage, messy, expensive, and not suitable for travel. No fun, and not worth the trouble, we had concluded. I'm still not sure exactly, but I think what happened next is that biology took control of my brain.
The flea market near our lake cabin has long been a major source of inspiration to me. I have always felt intrigued by the old objects on offer, as well as the people willing to travel the region (or country), gathering and selling these tidbits. This particular flea market happens every Sunday morning during the summer.
It used to be solely populated by collected items and a few homemade tidbits. Now new products are offered alongside the old, in an Anthropologie-style new-but-looks-old way, but luckily the old treasures still abound. While in high school, I found a vintage flapper dress there which later became a prom dress. My mom has furnished many a room with re-fashioned pieces from there, and it was also there almost twenty years later, where I finally felt the spark of inspiration for the nursery for my first son.