Thursday, April 23, 2020
Parenting, Perfection, and Perseverance
A pair of cardinals has set up housekeeping in the small sago palm tree beside our backyard swimming pool. James spotted three speckled eggs in a tiny nest almost a week ago, and several days later they were replaced by a trio of fluffy chicks that look so much like miniature plucked turkeys to me that I grin every time I see them. Since we've had a sudden run of summer weather, we've been taking a dip in the pool every evening before dinner, careful not to bother the new family while we do it. I was worried that maybe our presence would scare the parents away, but a few nights ago as the girls were taking turns doing handstands in the shallow end, we suddenly saw the father swoop down to check on the babies. He lingered for a few seconds, flew back up into the nearby oak tree, and was immediately replaced by the mama bird who did the same thing. For the next ten minutes or so, I couldn't take my eyes away from watching those two birds take turns looking after their little ones. It reminded me so much of James and I as we shepherd our girls through this strange time together at home. There are moments when he picks up the burdens because I'm feeling weak, and then I turn around a few hours later and do the same for him. Sometimes we tackle frustrations at the same time with grit-your-teeth determination, and other times it's all so ridiculous that we can't stop laughing. But we're facing it together, and I love that. Teamwork: it's a good idea whether you're parenting cardinals or strong young women, and we're getting a little better at it each day.
Yesterday I spent almost two hours working on a new pattern I've been wanting to write, and it ended in failure. I walked away from it until later in the evening, started from scratch, and promptly failed again. Sigh . . . it's all part of the creative process, of course, and you can't let it get you down. So I put that new pattern away for another day, and this afternoon I'll be working on something that I know I'll enjoy. Because that's part of the creative process too. You have to know when you're up to a challenge and when you need something pleasantly simple, and today is a day for comfort sewing, I think.
For the past few days, I've been working on cleaning out my guest room/office which has been in desperate need of some purging for some time now. Going through the stuffed drawers of the dresser in there feels something like conducting an archaeological dig of my life, and the various piles that I've been sorting read the same way: here lies Heidi the fabric designer, the artist, the antique collector, the writer, the interior designer, the teacher, the quilter. I look at all the pieces of myself spread out across the guest room bed, and I'm reminded again of one of the character traits that I constantly struggle with in myself: that dreaded perfectionism. I want to try absolutely everything, but I want to do it all really well. And this stubborn streak often paralyzes me so that I can't get past the excitement of the planning and into the actual doing, turning me into a first class procrastinator. Hence the gouache paints that have never been opened and the journals that have only a few pages of writing and the stack of sewing patterns that I've never started. So I'm choosing to see this time at home as a chance to grow, to play with some things that I normally wouldn't have had the guts to try. Step one: some day in the next week I'm going to break out those paints and see what happens.
Part of my cleaning in the office has been going through the book samples and props that have been stored in containers for so long. I always like to spread the quilts and pillows around the house, but a lot of the small things wind up in storage for future trunk shows. Well, no more of that. I'm saving a few items for future gifting, but it's nice to pull more of these happy little pieces out into the open where I can enjoy them. For instance, the pencil cases in the photos above were designed for Carnival of Patchwork, and I love seeing them out on my desk. I wanted a mix of fabrics that was both cheerful and a little bit vintage, and it turned out just the way I hoped it would. Incidentally, that red print is from the Lola Dutch collection by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller Fabrics, which my girls adore. My mother bought them all the picture books in that series for Easter this year, and they've been taking online drawing classes with Sarah Jane ever since the quarantine started. I love watching my daughters not only develop their artistic talents but also start to gain a creative fearlessness that I want more of myself. It's so easy to encourage them to just have fun and enjoy it without getting hung up on perfection, (funny how it's always easier to speak those words to others than it is to say them to ourselves), and seeing them do that makes me want to do it too. We may be stuck at home for now, but it doesn't mean we can't still find ways to spread our wings and fly.