My children are no longer small. It sounds like such a cliche to say that it seems like only yesterday they were babies, but it is true. The past 11 years have passed by in the blink of an eye — despite many moments that seem interminably long when you are in the midst of them.
At 9 and 11 (and well on their way towards being 10 and 12), they have lost all traces of the babies they were. Their faces are lengthening and maturing, and are often caught out in what I have to admit is a maturing expression. Their arms and legs have grown long enough to wrap all the way around me (and I am not a tiny slip of a woman by any stretch of the imagination. Short, but not tiny). Their heads are of a height where I can comfortably rest my cheek on top of them while standing up. Soon, they will be as tall as I am.
Or taller. Lord knows my youngest siblings both tower a full foot over me.
I find myself missing their infancy of late. Not because of anything they’ve done, or anything I’ve done, but because all around me, friends are having babies. We have become the old folks in the crowd. The voices of experience — and our experience, I am sad to say, is on the verge of being sadly outdated, seeing as how quickly everything from car seats to baby wraps to current thinking on when to feed your baby meat change from year to year.
It is a distinctly odd feeling, knowing that we are a decade out from those baby days, and that so many of our friends are just newly or about to be knee deep in diapers and sleepless nights and first teeth and first smiles. I feel a little bit left behind, if the truth be known. Their lives are (or are about to become) a blur of small moments and the sheer drudgery of baby care that eats up so much time and energy, interspersed with small moments of the most incredible joy they’ve ever known.
My life, on the other hand, is a blur of homework battles and screen time battles and Important Conversations and music lessons and band practice and new sneakers and all the drudgery of making sure two young people learn to be organized and responsible and caring and kind and polite and respectful and all those other things, interspersed with small moments of the most incredible joy I’ve ever known.
And sarcasm. Lots and lots of sarcasm, as not one but two young people take their ever-changing senses of humor in a new direction yet again.
But the most unexpected thing about finding myself 11 years ahead of so many of my friends is that I have time. Time to visit and snuggle a newborn for a bit while their parents sit and chat and ask a million questions about how we did it when our kids were this age. Time to offer a hand when one is needed, or an ear for listening, or just a bit of grown up company when said parents find themselves overwhelmed by the huge influx of all things baby in every area of their lives. Most of all, I have time to knit and crochet wee little things to wrap around wee little people.
Usually, I crochet baby blankets. Sometimes I’ll knit one, but knitting takes ever so much longer. My crochet hook fairly flies through the yarn while my knitting needles plod along like dutiful little soldiers clickety-clicking their way through an endless desert.
It’s an odd thing, having time to knit. I’m not any less busy that before, but my children are becoming amazingly self-sufficient. Homework help can be given while sitting at the dining room table and knitting while they work. Lunches for school are packed with only a little supervision. Setting the table and shoveling the walkway and folding and putting away their laundry are all chores they are capable of doing themselves, and baths and showers haven’t required my presence for years now.
I have time, a little here, a little there, often multitasking with a bit of yarn. It is a gift. A gift that comes with having survived those intensely needy younger years.
Some days, I curl up with a book. Some days, I embroider things. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been knitting gifts for new parents and parents-to-be who as of yet have no real idea of how insanely busy and crazy and exhausting and wonderful their life is about to be. I am using my time to knit for people who are about to discover exactly how short on time their lives can possibly be.
Since I had time, I decided I needed to learn how to knit a sweater. Luckily, it is a baby sweater. A 5-hour baby sweater, to be precise. It’s only taken me about 8.236 hours of work to get it this far. I started it in one yarn, but I didn’t like how the colours were puddling and so I changed yarns after I had gotten through the yoke. I haven’t updated my Ravelry page with the new yarn yet, but I will. Eventually.
I love the new yarn so much. I love how it stripes just so. I love how soft it is, and how it feels like homespun with thicker bits and thinner bits built right in. I love the subtle shades of colour and the cozy fall feeling of it. I love it so much, I bought it in two other colourways, and I’ve started knitting a blanket, baby sized, in the most amazingly soothing shades of grey with just a touch of yellow.
Yes, I’m knitting it. It’s taking forever. Correction: it’s taking forever and a day to knit that blanket, even baby sized as it is. But I don’t care. I love the yarn so much that I could knit it from now until next year and not get tired of it. I think I’ve spent about 10 hours knitting that blanket already, and it is only half done. I could have knit a whole other sweater in how much time it is taking me to knit this blanket. Two sweaters, even.
It’s a good thing I’ve got more babies on the way to knit for.
That, and the gift of time.