Over the years, sewing has become a way for me to process life. When my biological children and I were separated, for the longest time I couldn’t even look at my sewing machine. Because a big part of the reason I started sewing was for them, and “now they were gone.” It was hard. My therapist, rather than agree that I should let it go so I didn’t feel the pain of them being missing from my life, instead encouraged that I go about my sewing as if nothing had changed. I always had at least one handmade Christmas gift for my children, but that first Christmas, I was pretty certain I wasn’t going to be able to see them. I was told to make those gifts anyway.
And I trusted my therapist, so I made those gifts— a pair of stuffed monkeys. And I cried a little, if not on the outside, in my heart. But I made them. And now, you know the beginning of ANDAnother Monkey- because once I made those two, I made more. And more. And more. I sold them. I donated them to charities. I gave them to other kids I knew. They became my healing- my connection to my children.
That is the biggest healing sewing has ever given me. Though it has healed other things too- the hurt I had after watching my grandfather pass away for another thing. It has also been a point of celebration- a quilt for my now husband with his worn IU shirts that adorns the sofa, the quilt on our bed also. Sewing, to me, is not a task. It’s an expression of emotion– most often love.
So, on that introduction, if you have followed me, you know that I am about to become a (step) grandma.
(33 is sooooooo not old enough for this!!!!!) The mental adjustments with this have been huge- I mean, my stepdaughter is all of 19. She is a lovely girl, but also a somewhat sheltered girl Anyone who has been around teen pregnancy knows that the odds are stacked against the teen.
We worried. We worry. We WILL worry.
And you know what? I can own that now, and realize that isn’t HER, that worry isn’t something SHE did, that is PARENTING. Period. Always and forever. And that was (sometimes still is) a pretty big mental hurdle to come to– but that is OK. We need those hurdles to grow.
On the way, there have been challenges. I don’t always understand how she communicates, but I know about having babies- and her daddy doesn’t (as in he hasn’t been pregnant before, a
difficult impossible thing for any man). So many conversations are half with her dad and then her dad saying “I don’t know about that stuff, do you want to talk to Anda?” And me hoping that I will understand her questions and help her, and that when I am trying to understand she will understand MY questions and provide helpful answers. If you were able to follow that last sentence, you get a gold star in communication.
It also has involved me learning how to take a step back, and chill out.
Lately, she seems to be doing OK. Are there things I look at and go “WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!” Oh yeah. Are there other things that I look at and go “Oh yeah!!!!!!”? Yep.
Until one day, during church no less (oops), inspiration for a baby quilt struck, and I pulled out my always with me colored pencils and sketched it. I got dirty looks from her father… oh well. Call it divine inspiration.
Quilts are big deal. Even small ones. I don’t make as much time for quilts, and when I do, they are usually simply, block based ones. But, for some reason, there wasn’t a question. This was going to be done.
I showed my stepdaughter the sketch, we both got really excited. When my husband walked up grinning like the Cheshire cat, I asked what was up—- “seeing you two all excited.” Another inch….. we had another inch added to a budding relationship, that sometimes seems harder than it is easier. That day it was easier.
And earlier this week, I sent a text- we are only two months away from the due date now- but the quilt would have the babies name in it, and the whole thing was designed around that, so I needed to wait until they were SURE of a name. And they are now.
And oddly, I started almost right away- sketching how I was going to put little bits of fabric together to make the name. I learned it was going to take one inch blocks (finished size). Yep, you read that right, ONE INCH BLOCKS.
I NEVER WORK THAT SMALL.
I am not that patient.
But I drew and drew and drew- found a few small shortcuts, but not many. (If I feel froggy, I might draw them up into a formal pattern. But that involves hopping, and right now I feel lazy.) And then set about cutting the 1 1/2″ squares to do the blocks. And the 2 7/8″ squares needed to do the diagonal squares for some of the letters.
I finished the blocks last night and with each inch, a new tiny bit of acceptance, and even excitement comes. Each day, a little more acceptance came into my heart- a little more ownership of this too-young grandmother role. A role that so far, my stepdaughter seems to want me in, and as long as she wants me in that role, I will do it. With each stitch, a little bit of the scared gets less intense, less prominent. And in a strange way, inch by inch it has brought us together.
Relationships don’t grow overnight, they don’t build overnight, and they don’t change overnight. It is up to us to acknowledge the need for change and find a way to bring it about. For me, the way is with these tiny little bits of fabric, that in some ways, I would rather not deal with. Isn’t that just like life?
Look for the finished product to show up in the future—- er, I mean finished quilt. Because relationships are never finished.
Until the next inch!
PS. More fun blocks to come! Cut the pieces for an elephant, that also had some 1 1/2″ blocks. I guess I am feeling more confident with small piecing now!