being a mom

Knitting Taught Me To Accept My Imperfections As A Mom

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For months after my second daughter was born, I painstakingly knitted a pair of socks with a tiny set of knitting needles. But I couldn’t stand any dropped stitches or other mistakes, and I ended up unraveling and starting over again so many times, I eventually gave up.

The tiny socks, in various forms of incompletion, stuck in the back of my closet, haunted me.. At the time I was staying at home with my two young daughters, an infant and a 3-year-old. Unused to handling multiple children, I was often in tears out of frustration. There was near-constant screaming as the baby cried to be breastfed, and wails  from my toddler who wanted more of my attention.

I wanted to be there for both of them 110 percent of the time. As a kid, I was the child who would chuck an entire drawing if there was a mistake, who would enter art contests and cry inconsolably if I won less then first prize. I spent hours painstakingly perfecting the rise of a horse’s nostril and its intricate muscles in third grade. And the world rewarded me for this perfectionism, too. I won academic awards, a dozen scholarships, a full-tuition ride to my first university, and acceptance into very prestigious undergraduate university and master’s program.

Part of why I wanted to give up on knitting was that the validation came in slow repetition of quiet work – the reward was the work itself. I had a hard time giving in to the peacefulness of doing something quietly, with no expectation other than to make something in and of itself. My mistakes glared at me every time I forget a stick or counted the wrong number of stitches on a pattern. Every sock I made seemed to reflect that I had always been imperfect, and maybe, deep inside, unworthy of the  rewards I had earned.

Now caught in the throes of screaming, potty accidents, tantrums, and projectile pooping from the baby, I was in a world I had never encountered. Although I have a very supportive spouse and family, I felt like I was in a vacuum, helpless during the day. “How am I going to do this?” I would say to myself every morning. “And what mistakes am I making that will harm my children?”

I wanted to offer everything to my children that I thought they deserved: peaceful parenting while teaching self-discipline, only organic, non-sugary, unprocessed food, exclusive breastfeeding. I set the bar high, and when I was weeping on the floor with toys around my feet, I felt I would never live up to it.

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