Freedom and Spirals

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.

Braid In 42812 (12)
Pittsburgh Skies, 2011, made for the “Skies/Weather/Sunset” challenge of the Valley Forge Guild.

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.

6 thoughts on “Freedom and Spirals

  1. I had the same feelings when the youngest, Jenn, of our two kids left for college. Dave being 4 years older was already off and on his own. I didn’t feel the sense of loss when he left for college because his sister was still at home and doing all the things high school kids do. Something about the youngest leaving and the ‘nest’ being empty. Amazing how children can take up so much of your time, energy, and thoughts. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. From the day they were born your job was to teach them to be independent and self sufficient.

  2. This could not come at a better time as I have been playing with the spirals myself and find that I need a bit of guidance. I am sure you will answer any questions I might have. I always seem to get tangled up about the start. Keep up the good work.

  3. True, life changes when your children go off to college. At first we miss them terribly then reality sets in. As parents we have done our job and it is now time for our little fledglings to fly off and begin their own career paths. Now is the time where you can dance in your underwear. Play Marvin Gaye songs 24/7. Dance in the moonlight with your husband. ( maybe yes maybe no lol). No picking up after messy kids. Braid till the morning hours. Your possibilities are endless. Yes, you will probably miss hearing- mom what is for dinner? Mom, where is my blue shirt that I threw in the wash? Mom, who ate all the potato chips? But at the end of the day you can relax with a glass of wine ( maybe even 2) and can feel confident that you have raised a great son and daughter.

  4. Mary, I don’t think there will be any “dancing in the moonlight with my husband,” but there may be some staying up late watching 1950’s sci-fi movies (same thing for us).

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