Happy news has its own special way of completely demolishing a person’s life.
Celebratory things– like getting married, moving in together, having a new baby, starting a new job– they take just as much energy, attention, and time as their tragic counterparts do. But there’s an added sting: people expect you to be happy. You should be happy. If you’re anything like me, you ARE happy, somewhere deep inside, in all that mess of humanity and emotion.
But all you can see on a day-to-day level is how much work it is to be pregnant and trying to raise your older children at the same time. You feel that anxious pressure over money, time, preparation, and you are seized with that “how am I going to make this WORK?” panic in the middle of your sleepless nights.
People have all kinds of ways of dealing with this madness. I have a friend who started posting weekly pictures of her belly on Facebook when she was 8 weeks pregnant. People who are on bedrest often make countdown calendars marking each day until their due date or safe date as a tiny victory. Couples, especially first-time parents, sign up for birth and parenting and breastfeeding classes, even though it’s an open secret that this is a laughable prospect.
All these activities have two goals: first, to keep the mind of the expectant person so full that they can’t spare the time to freak out, but second, to make openings for people in their social networks and general vicinity to offer them help and reassurance.
A weekly belly pic means a regular reminder of your pregnancy in everyone’s feed. A countdown calendar gives you an opportunity to remind all your housemates of your incremental but inevitable journey. Classes are an explicit way to seek new connections and new sources of support based on your status as expectant parents.
Personally, I knit. I sew. And I felt and fold and sculpt and bead and work-work-work as much as I can. That keeps me distracted from the fact that I have made the incredibly foolish decision to let the children in my family outnumber the adults (oh help!), and, if I work on baby things, it provides a neat justification for talking about the baby, even with strangers.
Plus, you know, cuteness. Thriftiness. Et cetera. Not all crafting is about insecurity and escapism. Or, rather, my crafting isn’t entirely about insecurity and escapism. Not entirely.
So, to the lady who saw me knitting baby pants in the car outside the burrito place and asked what I was making and complimented my skills, even though it was just stockinette and seed stitch, thank you. To the friend who doesn’t watch Bob’s Burgers but told me my “Louise” baby bonnet was adorable, thank you. To the elderly relative who doesn’t quite understand what a sleep sack is or how cloth diapering works but is interested in having me explain it, thank you. To the understanding partner who listened patiently to a cumulative total of three hours of freaking out about the exact configuration of compartments in the diapering caddy, thank you.
Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone as I feather this nest.