Part One of this post focused on shopping. This one is more inner work-y (that’s a term. You can look it up). Thanks so much to everyone who read and shared the last post; we’ve had the most visitors and shares ever. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me!
I recently started knitting. Okay, I should really say that I have recently started knitting three rows, messing up, and ignoring my yarn for several days. And I should also admit that I have recently begun swearing under my breath at a rate that would make a pirate blush. Why I decided that I needed to learn how to knit when I have a two-year-old and a constantly nursing infant is beyond me. Let me tell you, babies do not look kindly on being poked in the head with knitting needles (babies can be such jerks sometimes). But my friend Cristina knits and she’s so cool and all the moms on Waldorf Tag Sale make knitted toys for their kids and here I am at three o’clock on a Saturday and I haven’t taken a shower or learned to purl so I must be a failure.
Please tell me you know this feeling. I think it is a companion to that horrible urge I recently wrote about, that need to buy all the Waldorf toys. Once I bought all the stuff, I needed to do all the things. You see, I used to work. I used to wear high heels and get manicures and go to the dentist on a regular basis. Then I had a baby, left my job, and moved from California to Iowa in an eye-blinkingly fast six-week period. All of a sudden, I was a mom and a housewife and an Iowan. And while I’ve always been a bit of a hippie, using green cleaning products and eschewing paper towels, I felt like I really had to go all in. I was going to be a Waldorf Mom. I was going to have a calm house where rhythm and routine ruled and we sang songs while I kept everything spotless and baked bread and there would be crafts. Dang it, there would be lots of crafts. I was losing my identity as a working woman (before my student loans were paid off; another blow to my ego), but I was going to be a Waldorf Mom Extraordinaire.
It turns out I was hugely ill-prepared. The Wonderful Waldorf Mom is very much like the Pinterest Mom, but without mainstream TV character cupcakes and a lot more wool. The Waldorf Mom I had in my head likes being outside. Guys, there are ticks outside. And I sweat and it’s gross. The Waldorf Mom likes to cook and is really good at it (nope and nope). The Waldorf Mom grew up on a farm and keeps chickens and dries her cloth diapers on a line. I have a dog I don’t take to the groomer often enough and yesterday, while I was spraying a cloth diaper, I got poop in my hair. You’d better believe that I’m using my full appliance arsenal to deal with our laundry. The Wonderful Waldorf Mom knows how to knit, obviously. I kind of hate her. I wish I could be her.
(I need to interrupt myself here and say I truly have nothing against those of you who have mastered every aspect Waldorf family life. You’ve worked hard to get where you are. You are awesome and I thank you for being a great role model. Now, back to my post!)
So, what do I do? Well, I give myself grace and I try to be honest with myself. Every time I decide to tackle a new handwork skill, I examine my motives. Why do I want to learn this skill? Is it because I’m truly interested? Will it save my family money? Will my kids enjoy the results? Or am I spending way too much on something I could buy for less, that I don’t enjoy doing, that takes time away from my kids, all so that I can have a Facebook or Instagram post that gets a ton of likes and makes me feel superior? If I can say that the craft gives me some personal satisfaction and my kids like it, then I stick with it. Needle felting falls into this category. I also genuinely love setting up nature table scenes. If a particular kind of handwork makes me miserable, though, I need to grant myself the permission to walk away. I’m going to give knitting a couple more weeks. If I still don’t enjoy it, I will retire my needles without regret.
Also, I cheat. I am all about taking the easy way out or finding crafts that give me a lot of bang for my buck. I bake bread. We always have a fresh loaf on the cutting board in our kitchen. But I use a bread machine. Does my family care if a metal paddle kneaded the dough? Nope. Are they still eating whole wheat without a ton of preservatives? Yup. And yogurt. It turns out that yogurt is ridiculously easy to make. It has to be timed carefully, however, so every couple of weeks I can claim that I have to stay inside and watch my yogurt and I get to enjoy my air-conditioned house without guilt. Then there are window stars. These look awesome and are deceptively simple. I also find folding them kind of calming. It’s a nice, relaxing activity for the evening. Wool fairies are another impressive-looking but easy craft. I love my wool fairies.
Finally, I try to remind myself to be patient and do my best for now. I don’t have the energy to make my own detergent or to line dry our clothes right now. It’s a goal, but I’m not there yet. Still, our other cleaning products are home made and I use Charlie’s Soap. Good enough. The time I don’t use hanging laundry can be spent with my kids. Good enough. I hate cooking. But I can whip up a casserole in twenty minutes and it might just have a vegetable in it. Good enough. The lady on the YouTube tutorial says to knit an entire skein before attempting any projects. Maybe I will never learn how to cast on without swearing or how to purl or reduce stitches, but my kids will have plenty of scarves made with love. Good enough.
I have to be honest with you: I hate those “I’m okay, you’re okay, we’re all okay” blog posts. I do think there’s a right way to raise kids. If I thought a different way of parenting were okay, then I would be parenting that way. Creating a Waldorf home is not for the faint of heart. It requires a lot of work and patience and creativity. It puts a ton of pressure on the adults to raise kids a certain way, and while online boards and play groups can provide excellent support, it’s also very easy to become too concerned about others’ opinions of me. Also, when I left work, I think many of my friends and family didn’t get it. Why would I get two degrees from Stanford “just” to stay home? I feel like I have to be a Wonderful Waldorf Mom to quiet some of those voices. I have to show them that this is challenging work well worth my time and intelligence, and that I’m constantly striving to improve and learn new things.
Being a Waldorf Mom is indeed challenging work well worth my time and intelligence, and I truly am constantly striving to improve and learn new things, but I need to do it for myself, for my husband and my kids. Not for people on the Internet or for my friends and family who don’t get it. I’m pretty good right now and I’m getting better, and I’m trying to do everything for the right reasons. It’s a constant struggle.
Since I’m being honest today, I have to admit that I will probably quit knitting. It just doesn’t light my fire. Maybe next I will face that monster that’s been living in my closet for years, the sewing machine. I will ask myself why I want to sew (mostly for pillow covers). I will cheat when possible, adding embellishments to items I already own. I will sew because I want to do it for myself and for my family, and not for my twenty-five Instagram followers. And my seams will be crooked but I’ll be happy. Or I’ll hate it and quit and move on to soap making. I will eventually try all those Waldorf crafts, keeping some and ditching others. I might never reach full Wonderful Waldorf Mom status, but whatever. I make my own yogurt, dang it.
Happy Hedgehog Post is a great way to learn new skills without buying a million supplies. Please visit the shop! Also, we’re holding a Christmas in July sale, and we’ve got a bunch of books that will walk you through a variety of crafts. I hope you buy a couple–for the right reasons, of course! Details are on our group page.