How Slow Stitching Makes me a Better Parent
By Cheryl Arkison
I often say that having my first daughter allowed me to be who I really am. Yes, she made me a mother. But she also made me realize that to be the best mother, the best role model to her, I had to be true to myself. This meant embracing my creative side as the dominant part of me, the part that needs to be nurtured and acted on daily. I was quilting before I had my kids, but becoming a mother made me a quilter.
This relationship between motherhood and my quilting is not one-sided. Slow stitching makes me a better mother as well.
In the moment
Quilting forces us to pay attention to what we are doing right now. Look away for a moment and you can cut off your finger tip. Trust me, I know that. One of the reasons I started quilting was that it was a complete distraction from the stress of graduate school. Because I had to pay so much attention to quilting in order to not hurt myself or make mistakes I couldn’t think about the other things that were weighing on me. Quilting was necessarily in the moment.
Kids are so In. The. Moment. Their emotions are completely linked to what is happening right here, right now. Their attention spans, generally, are focused on what is in front of them right now.
Because I quilt I can better understand the need to be in the moment with my kids. By nature I am a multitasker, with an ability to flit around doing three things at one. Kids don’t like that. So I am much better at understanding the need to be in the moment for them, with them. Much easier to avoid getting hurt and making mistakes. Just like quilting.
Slow stitching calls for pure engagement in what you are doing. With your attention held fast by your stitching, everything slows down.
“Take each step as it comes,
change the things that don’t work,
and be open to where things lead you.“
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know my kids are happier around me when the phone is put away, my sewing machine is not out, and the dishes are done. They want me and my attention to be on them. Of course it can’t be that way all the time – someone still has to make school lunches and fold the laundry. But we are all happier when I give them focused engagement by colouring with them, playing a game of Monopoly, or sledding down the hill with them.
As a quilter I can create the opportunity for full engagement with my stitching. I try to keep my space tidy and ready for whatever moment of creativity I can find, for whatever activity I can fit in the day. As a mother I create the opportunity for full engagement with my kids by putting aside the phone, the stitching, the cleaning. Keeping my heart open to the moments they ask for and creating the ones they don’t ask for brings full engagement.
For me, slow stitching is about being focused on the process of what you are doing without regard to where you’ll end up. Take each step as it comes, change the things that don’t work, and be open to where things lead you. Being intentional in the moves that you make and the stitches you take is required to quilt successfully. Even improvisational piecing at the machine requires your engagement. Every choice impacts the next move.
That sounds an awful lot like the faith and intention you have to have when it comes to raising kids.
Don’t eat breakfast, there will be a tantrum, someone will get in trouble. Skip the mitts on a cold day, don’t stay out to play after school, cranky before dinner. Then there are the bigger things, keep love from them and see them not love others. Show them kindness and they will return it.
It can put a lot of pressure on a mother, and a quilter. Where will she end up? How can I be sure of the results? You can’t be. But you can be intentional, slowing down and living in the moment. Trust in the process.
One stitch, one laugh, one quilt, one day at a time.
About Cheryl Arkison
Cheryl is a quilter, writer, and mom. She writes and teaches on quilting, craft, creativity, food, and family. And it all comes from her dining room empire in her crowded, colourful house. From this space she wrote her first book, Sunday Morning Quilts (co-authored with Amanda Jean Nyberg, Stash Books, March 2012) and her second book, A Month of Sundays (Stash Books, July 2013).
Happily considered a modern quilter, Cheryl’s work spans techniques. She is in love with scraps, circles, and improvisational piecing. The ability to just sit and sew is what gets her through the day, even when that sewing comes without a plan or any reason. It always comes together, eventually.
A proud first generation Ukrainian, she is committed to not letting the artistry of food and craft from her heritage pass by unnoticed in the modern age. Cheryl is the mother of three kidlets – two gregarious girls and a baby boy. She blogs regularly on Dining Room Empire.
THE SLOW STITCHING MOVEMENT PODCASTS
Liza Prior Lucy, author, designer, teacher, knitter, quilter, and business owner of www.GloriousColor.com discusses her attraction and participation in The Slow Stitching Movement in a newly posted Slow Stitching podcast.
Listen here: http://www.slowstitching.com/podcasts.html
Eye of the Beholder designer, Margaret Willingham, talks about what slow stitching means to her, in her creativity process, finding the time, spirituality, and creating an integrated life. Find her podcast here: http://www.slowstitching.com/podcasts.html
The Slow Stitching Movement Podcast’s are sponsored by
Aurifil and GloriousColor.com
The Slow Stitching Movement Podcast’s are sponsored by Aurifil and GloriousColor.com
We would love for you to share your creative process, thoughts, feelings and your place in The Slow Stitching Movement.
Just email Mark Lipinski at: firstname.lastname@example.org
He will email you the simple guidelines for posting your own blog here and introducing yourself to the world of Slow Stitchers!
Thank you for sharing Cheryl. I have been using my quilting as a stress buster over the last 6 months. Work has become so stressful I found myself doing nothing in the evening as I was too stressed out from work and then I would feel even worse because I was making any progress on my projects. That meant I wasn’t going anyway. So slowly over a few months I tried do a little bit of something (cutting fabrics, sewing a block) to take my mind off other problems. You are right you need to give quilting your full attention or else. It is amazing how much difference it makes when you are what you love.