Lately, since dropping both kids off at college (Katie is a senior, Jack is a freshman) I’ve been getting phone calls from old friends: women I haven’t talked to in a few years, whose kids went to the same local daycare. Although initially these women were my only friends here in Pittsburgh, our lives have gone in different directions over the years. All or most of us from that era have recently sent kids to college. In the last week, there’s an email, or a text, or a phone call: “How are YOU doing?”
I think I’ve mentioned a few times that I’ve been greatly looking forward to the kids both going off to school. I’ve justified this attitude by saying that if we’ve done a good job as parents, then college is where they should be as they forge their own lives in that protected atmosphere.
I had visions of spending happy hours braiding away with my interruptions more limited: husband + dogs, rather than husband + dogs + kids. That’s a big difference.
Instead, it seems … well, weird. Not unpleasant. When my husband and I dropped off the second kid, we gave Jack a hug, told him we loved him, and walked by ourselves down to the parking lot. My husband swung his arms over his head and shook them out from all the heavy boxes and lifting, then commented, “I feel… free, somehow. Don’t you?”
It has been a very long time since we have been just partners instead of parents. These first few days of being partners again have required a little pleasant negotiation. It’s made me realize just how overwhelming – (even when the kids are recluses up in their room and try not to talk to you) – the sense of responsibility of a parent is. It’s a defining characteristic of one’s life. Now, for a brief time while they’re both off at college, that sense is lessened significantly.
And I have less stress about making dinner for my picky-eaters.
And the milk cartons don’t disappear as rapidly.
And the car is always available.
And… I feel a little weird. I’ve been wandering around, emptying out their rooms of the trash they left, throwing their dirty laundry into bins for washing, and delighting in sitting down on the couch with a cup of coffee to read my email, knowing that I won’t be bothered for awhile. I like it, but… it’s hard to let go of wondering when I have to get the car back for Jack to drive it to a guitar lesson. That watchfulness and concern suddenly have no direction.
I love it! And… it’s weird.
Enough of that. I have finally decided on my topic for the next newsletter: spirals. Two-braid spirals, three-braid spirals, 4-braid spirals, and 6-braid spirals. Adding strands, subtracting strands, staggered finishes and overlapping finishes and shaped finishes. Now that I have all these different ideas of things to make, how am I possibly going to finish all the samples that I want to make? Luckily I’ve made a few over the years.
Part of my decision for making spirals is that I recently pulled out my old “Pittsburgh Skies” rug, made for the 2011 Skies/Weather/Sunset challenge from the Valley Forge Guild. The VF Spring Braid in was held at Bally Springs that year. At the time of making this one, I had just recently figured out how to make 2-braid spirals, and I experimented a bit with adding additional braids into the spirals to widen the distance between the bands. I also was experimenting with different ways to stack and to end the spirals. I’m not wild about some of the things that go on in this rug, and in other ways I’m inordinately proud of this rug. It taught me a lot about putting shapes together.
In any case, I’ll be working on writing up and diagramming different ways to start all the spiral braids at once, or add in more as one goes along, over the next month, for the October issue of the newsletter.