well, the first ever winter kcw is coming to an end, and i’ve got nothing to show for it but these pjs! i knew it wouldn’t be a banner week for me since my orientation shifts switched to nights and i’ve been a complete zombie working full time graveyard shift and still trying to function as a relatively competent parent during the day. however, this one sewing undertaking was symbolic and notable, and i was willing to sacrifice some rest to do something special for the kids, as parents are often inclined to do.
i spoke recently about what a transformative year this has been for me, for all of us, and how i really want to appreciate our changing needs as a family, and to address them in ways fulfilling for all of us. in the weeks and months leading up to art fair and the opening of mohr studio, i was plagued with constant guilt over not being attentive enough to the kids as i attempted to parent them solo while learning how to run a business and creating inventory. the time and skill and creativity required to do this are thoroughly incompatible with minding two toddlers. i was torn daily over focussing on things important to me that seemed in direct conflict with the desires of my kids.
if you let it, parenting can really leave you overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and regret. i find that ironically, i’m more consumed by these feelings the more i spend time with my kids, because at this age, their demands are so great, no matter what you give, it’s never quite enough. the more you’re around them, the more obvious your shortcomings can seem. so i, like many parents, found myself in a strange limbo where i felt obligated and pressured to spend as much time with them as possible before they go to school and begin their own lives, but at least half the time we’re together, they’re driving me absolutely crazy. i resent being unable to focus any time solely on my own interests, while they feel slighted that my attention is rarely 100% on them. we were approaching a tipping point where all three of us seemed ready to grow in new directions, and our existing set up wasn’t quite cutting it anymore. they wanted more attention and entertainment from me, just as i was embarking on endeavors that made it challenging to give more of myself than i already do.
we have been fortunate to keep childcare completely within our family, and being quite introverted myself, my kids have resultantly been rather isolated from other children and unfamiliar people in general. they were always shy and clingy in social situations, and along with the cost of preschool, i figured we’d skip it altogether. but in the past few months, eli especially has become much more curious and outgoing with other children and even some adults, and started pestering me incessantly about starting school. preschool wait lists are long around here, sometimes years long, and i hadn’t anticipated this total 180 shift on her part. now that i am working again and we have a bit of extra income, i started looking into what our options might be for the fall. in the process of making initial inquiries, things swiftly and unexpectedly fell into place for both kids to enroll immediately in a two morning program in the same class (mandatory as reese is still shy around strangers and inconsolable without his sister) at a wonderful co-op nursery school just a mile from our house. it was a total surprise and a sudden change for our family, but in a really positive way.
when i thought about preschool in the past, i looked at it as a way to enrich my kids while getting some time away from them. i wasn’t interested in the co-op approach because i felt like for me, the point was to have a break. now that i am working, i have enough opportunity for that critical adult alone time, and i’m more interested in finding ways to grow as a family and engage and interact more with the kids in the time i do have with them, so the co-op set up is quite ideal. every other week, i volunteer in the classroom, so i get to know the other kids and parents my children will befriend, and parents are all very invested and involved in the program, which is pretty neat. the kids have each other, and have me often, but seem not to be struggling at all with the transition to more independence from me. again, it seems we were all ready to move to a new stage.
anyhow, our first day was this past thursday, and it was pajama day! as parents go, i’m rather unsentimental. more often than not, my practicality overrules, and i just can’t bring myself to plan elaborate birthday parties, make halloween costumes, or otherwise invest a ton of time in things that make cute pictures, but mean very little to children too young to understand the significance or remember. but they are getting older, they are making memories, and becoming thoughtful, perceptive little people now. and the first day of school, that’s a really big deal, right? and while they basically wear nothing i make for them, i knew pajamas would be an ace in the hole. so, in spite of my minimalist approach to parenting and everything else, we made a real event of it, went to the fabric store together where the kids chose their own fabric without any input from me. and the night before their first day of school, i tucked them in early and fulfilled every crazy, overinvolved mother stereotype, and stayed up to the wee hours making them brand new pajamas to commemorate the momentous occasion before us, spent the morning at school with them, ran 10 miles, and then worked 12 hours. i’ll try not to repeat that sequence too often.
as for the garments themselves, i used very basic patterns. the shirts are both flashback skinny tees made from this cozy, fuzzy knit material i picked up a few months ago at fabric outlet in san francisco. i added contrasting elbow patches, which i made too big and placed in the center of the sleeve, when actually they should be closer to one of the edges in order to be centered on the elbow. i’ll file that away for next time. the pants are self drafted from their existing pajama pants, but this is a great tutorial on how to do that if you haven’t tried before. i added a contrasting cuff to reese’s, and a small ruffle to eli’s, since she recently told me that the ruffles are her favorite part of another pair of pj pants she has. both of them also got knee patches that i just zigzagged on, because i anticipated the need for reinforcement.
they loved their pjs, but they loved school even more. it was so fun to see them trying new activities and interacting with other kids, and it was nice to spend a morning engaging them in new ways without them making constant demands on me. it should be a great experience for our whole family. i promised to seek ways to improve balance, and to advocate for all of our happiness; i think this is a big step in that direction. and so, while i haven’t done huge birthday parties, made elaborate halloween costumes or holiday attire, while i err very much on the side of understatement in every aspect of my life and perhaps my kids have missed out as a result, i hope eventually they can appreciate that just isn’t who i am, my love for them isn’t splashy or showy. my love for them, i hope, is evident in the everyday, the pajamas they will wear constantly until they outgrow them, vs. the uncomfortable formal attire they will wear once and hate, but makes for a nice holiday photo. but, that love is also tremendous and unwavering, and now they have the pjs to prove it.