Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family life?
We are a military family! My husband and I both grew up as military brats, and we’re pretty thrilled to be able to give our kids the same adventure. Home is wherever the Air Force tells us it is, and we pride ourselves on being able to make a home anywhere. Military life forces you to start all over, repeatedly, with just your nuclear family. You either break apart, or you get stronger as you go through it together. But, trust me, strong is not always pretty. Most days strong looks a lot like a crazy woman on the front lawn in her pj’s at 6:30 in the morning, holding a screaming baby in one arm and a grumpy toddler in the other, yelling at an entire squadron of soldiers jogging by her house and calling cadence in their “do you have ANY idea what time it is?!?” voices.
Our family life is nothing if not flexible. As a kid, my dad used to joke that “flexibility is the key to airpower.” My husband works hard for our country, as do we. Make your plans, head in that direction with great determination, and, when the direction changes, just try to keep up. This year, we’re homeschooling, which is a new adventure for us and we’ve just moved from Oklahoma City to Alaska! So, right now our family life looks a lot like unpacking, meeting the neighbors, getting to know our new squadron, and finding out where the good yarn and fabric stores are hiding.
I’m Kris of not-even-notorious YarnMadeMeDoIt fame.I have two children, ages almost-8 and 5-and-a-half. I have horrible, debilitating pregnancies from which I am, quite literally, still recovering. I was able to do very little other than lie on the couch and google “how to be a good mommy.” (I’m sure you can sympathize). My mother in law gifted me a simple sewing machine, and I went to work sewing diapers from almost anything made of cotton. Protip: old t-shirts make for a pretty adorable diaper. Sewing led to knitting fairly quickly when I saw the price of even cuter wool longies! These days I knit, crochet, spin like a woman possessed, weave a bit, sew (not well,) embroider, and get easily distracted by anything bright and colorful.
The name of my blog, Yarn Made Me Do It, is meant to be silly, but also has tremendous meaning for me. Knitting and spinning have gotten me through some deep valleys, have helped me celebrate some delicious, glorious peaks, and accompany me on the long straightaways that would otherwise drive me mad. Just because the yarn made me do it, doesn’t mean it wasn’t great or that I didn’t love it. Mostly, the yarn makes me look at myself and appreciate what I can do. All moms need something that makes them feel like they really can handle it all.
For many, sewing/crafting is a big part of who you are as a person. Why is “creative expression” important to you and how has it affected the quality of your life?
Ah. This has actually been the subject of quite a bit of philosophizing chez us.
I think that crafting is deeply satisfying on a near primal level. As our society gets more convenient, more prepackaged, and moves ever faster, we lost touch with handwork or beauty for its own sake. Creating something with your own two hands helps center me in a busy world, and gives me a concrete feeling of success and control. It also leads to a greater attentiveness in other areas of life. As a family, we now pay more attention to our food, our bodies, our daily activities, our friendships. It’s very soothing to revel in the details, understanding them one by one, and bringing bits and pieces together to form something beautiful. Put simply, crafting makes every part of my life better.
Working inside or outside of the home (or running a blog or website on a part to full time basis) can be especially tough because of the difficult choices we have to make with how to divide our time between work and family. Have you ever felt guilty about the choices you’ve made, and what advice would you give to someone struggling with those same types of feelings?
I’d like to speak to this question from a the perspective of a military spouse. I’m a nationally licensed School Psychologist, with a fancy degree and everything. I really enjoy what I do. But, as a military spouse, I have sacrificed my ability to have a career, earn a pension, or build anything long lasting. I can have jobs, certainly, but it’s not the same. It takes me about a year to really dig into a new district, and starting over gets exhausting. I absolutely made that sacrifice with my eyes wide open, but it still upsets me if I think about it for too long.
I do feel guilty when I work. I’m bad about bringing my job home with me. I also have some health issues, so working brings me home exhausted, with very little leftover for my family. I mentioned before that we’re homeschooling this year. It’s been such a blessing so far. This way, I’m spending my energy on my own kids, which is a nice change. I do miss my job, so I still consult from time to time, but nothing too demanding. Just having a choice makes things much easier, even if the better choice is less desirable at the time. It’s also very comforting to know that, if we really dislike a certain situation, just wait, it’ll change!
For most moms, multitasking is synonymous with motherhood. What’s been your biggest personal challenge with juggling so many things? Have you found a way to stay balanced? If so, what are some of your strategies?
Multitasking is not generally something at which I excel. I can certainly do it, but more than I’d like to admit gets lost along the wayside. For instance, I’ve never met an important date I couldn’t forget about completely. I’m that last-minute mom who tries really hard to convince herself that a little baby powder is an acceptable dry shampoo. Occasionally I’ll really nail something, but those days are few and far between.
My husband balances me. He’s a superlative man in more ways than I could possibly list. He’s also much less excitable, less talkative, and more prone to actually using the lists he’s made than I. The support I get from him permeates every aspect of my life at this point. I could do without him, but there’s no way it’s happening voluntarily!
Alright. I’ll stand up and say it. TV is the Universe’s gift to moms everywhere. That and the ipad. Can I get a witness? I’m not advocating for unsupervised or excessive screen time, but I will be the first to admit that Phineas and Ferb open all kinds of crafting doorways for me.
When I’m not frying their little brains, the husbeast loves to hang out with the kids on the weekends. He also does the majority of cooking and the dishes. Yes, thank you, I DID win the man lottery! That right there is a ton of crafting time when I need it. Other than that, I either craft as the kids appropriate my fabric scraps (the ninjas in our house are very colorful) or after they’ve gone to bed. I really enjoy ending my day knitting on the couch as the husbeast and I talk through a show, especially a good political documentary.
What’s the best mom advice you’ve ever received?
You’re a better mom than you think you are.
I think that’s a near universal truth of motherhood. If you’re worried about being good enough, just repeat the above mantra over and over because it’s true. Just trust me on this one, I’m a psychologist!
In terms of family, career and motherhood, how do you define success?
Success to me, is everyone happy, healthy, and making the world just a bit better than they found it.
I think, as moms, we analyze this one to death. We try so hard to achieve success that we rarely stop to define it. I don’t know a single mom who’s got time for wild goose chases, unless they involve a toddler that has no hope of catching the goose in question, and ends up exhausted. We’ve ALL got time for that! But, I do think a decent road map for sanity involves a very simple definition of success that, like Rome, is at the end of a great many avenues.
How has being a mom changed your life perspective?
Oh my. There are too many ways to list. Some of my favorites however, are:
– A great date night can absolutely be a bottle of wine, some popcorn, and a movie rated anything other than PG.
– Clean is relative, the five minute rule can be extended into the five day rule depending on the last time you vacuumed.
– These ARE my daytime clothes!
– Nothing is hotter than your partner changing diapers at 3am.
– Love really does conquer all, but not in the way you thought.
– If you are small and belong to me, for some reason is way less gross if you expel one or more bodily fluids onto every piece of my wardrobe. Also, the couch is now part of my wardrobe.
– Cosleeping has the word sleep in it. Nothing that contains sleep is bad.
– Whosoever invented the Ergo should be drug out into the street and given a medal.
– I had no idea how much of my time would be spent gazing at my offspring and thinking “you are the coolest person I know.”
– And finally, to the man who sat next to me and my screaming toddler on our flight home from North Dakota, looked at me kindly and said “I’ve got 4 at home, won’t bother me none. He’s just tired,” and then proceeded to stare down the guy across the aisle attempting to give me the stink eye, I will never forget you. My heroes aren’t suffragettes or Ghandi or invented by Marvel (although all are deserving of the title,) they’re people like you, and I will strive to emulate you.
In closing, I would really like to say that the idea of dispelling the “mommy myths” is so incredibly important to not just women, but to our entire society. If we make room for real moms, real dads, real families – whatever form they may take, if we take just a little more time to be child-friendly, the world will be a better place. Understanding, accepting, and supporting each other as we truly are will go a long way toward a better world. It’s easy to make things look good, but it’s more important to take the time to make them good. Motherhood is the ultimate craft. Now…has anyone seen my tape?
You can find Kris at Yarn Made Me Do It.
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