Today was one of those days when I learned something from Bo. I learn something about both of my children every day, so perhaps a more appropriate statement was that, he taught me a lesson.
After Bo’s therapy this morning, I planned to run a few errands. I had to return stuff to both LuLuLemon and Gap, and Westport is only a bit out of the way on my route home, so I set that as my destination. I needed to stop at a gas station, and once I realized I was only a few blocks from the yarn store, I decided to go there too. I had been meaning to start a new project since I finished my scarf (five months ago), and I felt somewhat inspired. I grabbed my Amex and my phone (and Bo), and went in. Oooooh, I love the yarn store. There’s just so much potential there. It’s the same feeling I get when I see a brand-new, blank piece of lined paper in a journal. Just rows and rows of blankets, and scarves, and sweaters, and ponchos – waiting to be knit. By someone else. I know what to do with a pen and a blank sheet of paper. That is familiar, comfortable territory. With a skein of yarn and a pair of knitting needles? Questionable. I have knit a hat and two scarves. I took my first knitting class six years ago at an adorable little yarn store/cafe in Union Square, when we still lived in the city. It was a three-session class and I took two of the classes – I think I was “too busy” to take the third (too busy doing what without two kids, I have absolutely no idea – hopefully, sleeping). The project (aside from learning to knit) was to make a hat. I kept making my stitches too tight, then too loose. In the end, I made a hat for Scott that made him look like a cross between a Rastafarian and a mushroom – not someone who “does” mushrooms – an actual six-foot-three-inch fungi. The first scarf I made was a Mother’s Day gift for Scott’s Grandma Gertie (whom we sorely miss). I was a little nervous about making her something, because this was a woman with very discerning taste and absolutely NO “edit button” or filter (the second time I met her when Scott and I started dating, I had just cut eight inches off my hair. She saw me and immediately said , “Why did you cut your hair? You were such a pretty girl.”)… I kept picking up the scarf, knitting a little, obsessing a lot, and then finally I finished it and gave it to her last year. I had started it in January of 2008. The last scarf I started when PJ was born and just finished a few months ago…
When I walked in there with Bo today, I was feeling especially inspired. He had just had two great therapy sessions, and we had come out alive (and relatively unscathed), from a pretty horrendous ten days of everyone being sick in the house. I decided I was going to make him a blanket for his First Birthday, which is coming up quickly in another two months. I had always wanted to make a blanket for PJ, but just never got around to it, and honestly – I just couldn’t bring myself to make the commitment. As I’m standing there hemming and hawing while the lovely yarn guru was helping me, I started becoming overwhelmed by the eight skeins of yarn she said I’d need and the new needles in the round I’d have to knit it on (apparently, people don’t find 36-inch needles easy to work with – who knew?). I had never knit anything with more than three skeins of yarn, I had never used these kinds of needles, I had never knit anything with more than one color, let alone in stripes, I couldn’t read a pattern, I only knew one stitch, I only had two months to complete the entire thing by his birthday, and I was twenty minutes away from the closest yarn store if I messed anything up.
All of a sudden, my no-nonsense internal monologue kicked in: Holy shit, J. Get a grip. It’s a freaking blanket. Man up. I’m sitting here obsessing about how hard it’s going to be to try something new, something that might not turn out perfectly because I’m not perfect at it? Seriously? I’m doing this while holding Bo? Bo who just got on the treadmill an hour ago for the first time, trying his hardest using all of his strength to figure out what the hell those things hanging about four inches below his belly button are supposed to do. He worked so hard his toes curled under and his right hand tightened into a tiny little fist so he could deflect all of his neurons to those chubby little legs. Your son is trying to walk, and you can’t just make him a blanket because it might be too hard? Are you kidding me? Aren’t you embarrassed to even be thinking this?
Now I’m aware that it’s unrealistic and unfair of me to constantly berate myself and compare myself to Bo and the astronomical odds he faces today and every day. I’m not saying that I need to go climb Everest, or complete a decathlon. I’m not going to “give myself a talking to” if I decide to take the elevator instead of the stairs occasionally, or use the refrigerated cookie dough sometimes instead of making them from scratch. It’s okay to not always take on the most difficult tasks, and it’s equally acceptable to use shortcuts sometimes (there are Cookie Emergencies, ya know). But this was different. This was something I wanted to do for him. This was something that was worth going out on a limb into unfamiliar territory. I think it will bring that much more inspiration to me while I’m creating it, and will bring me that much closer to understanding him and what he must go through.
I have made seven mistakes in the first ten rows that I have knit so far. I’m leaving them all there. Up close, if you look at them, they are each an unbecoming and jarring blemish in what should be a soothing and beautiful monotony of seamless stitches. But I’m hoping that by the time it’s complete, when you step back and look at it as a whole, you will see the beauty in those holes, and knots, and dropped stitches. They will tell the story of how much more wonderful something is despite, or maybe because of, all of the imperfections that lie within. It will still keep my baby boy warm at night, as I’m hoping the story of how much he inspired me to make it for him will. Because we all have holes, and knots, and dropped stitches; and because I so desperately love him – with all of his pins and needles, fisted hands, and missed steps.