A few years ago, I announced to my family that I was going to re-do the spare bedroom. The project included gutting out the room, painting the walls and sewing a new window topper. It was a big project and I told my kids that they were not to interrupt me while I worked. Needless to say, they interrupted me - a lot. Their agenda was not the same as my agenda and, in spite of my best intentions, the task took a long time to complete due to all the interruptions. When the room was finished, my family acted as though I'd abandoned them by going on trip around the world, when reality was that I had only locked myself in a bedroom for seven days. While I was locked in the room, I listened to a book on tape. It was heavenly to have someone read to me while I worked, and when the room was done, I wished that I had more time to myself: solitary time - it seemed like a pipe dream at the time.
I think all mothers feel this way once in a while; sometimes more often than not. There were years when my greatest desire was to take a bath without interruption. Just a bath. That's all I wanted to do. But it was a huge request because, as all mothers know, closing a door and locking the kids out is an open invitation for interruptions. We mothers are in demand and the little people in our lives tend to need us at exactly the moment we wish for Calgone to take us away. Solitary time is not a phrase to be used in conjunction with the word motherhood. The two do not go together.
These days I have a lot of time to myself. My kids are away at college and my husband works in our home office all day long. My time is my own and I can pretty much do whatever I want every day. This is what I wished for all those times when I was overwhelmed with motherhood - solitary time. And now it is here.
Some may wonder how the transition is going. I, too, questioned how I would handle this new phase in my life. I was afraid that I'd be bored, or lonely, or lost. But I'm happy to report that I've experienced none of those feelings. Instead, I feel liberated... free... HAPPY! Life is good, and I think the reason I'm so happy is because I know that I did the best I could with the years my kids were at home, and now it's my turn.
Now that I have this longed for solitary time, I get to spend it doing what I love the most (next to raising my kids, because, well... we are supposed to love doing that) - I sew and quilt and putz around the house. And my house is clean, clean, clean! No one ever messes it up. Things stay where they are supposed to stay. Counters are clear, dishes are always done, the bed is made every morning. And because my house is clean all the time, I actually have more time to do the things I want to do. For the past three weeks, I've been working on this quilt:
I was so afraid that I wouldn't finish it before Thanksgiving since it turned out to look very autumn-y in appearance and autumn-y colors don't coordinate with my Christmas decorations.
At first glance, the pattern looks quite simple. I used a layer cake and a jelly roll from the Sandy Gervais Awesome collection by Moda to make the quilt. But what made this quilt challenging for me was that I attempted to free motion stitch a floral design in each block. This is what I ended up with:
And here is what it looks like on the back:
I selected the stitch design after reading this book. The author lies! It is not easy. I just learned how to free motion stitch this year, and I still struggle with keeping my stitch length even and uniform. To attempt an actual design in addition to maintaining stitch control is still beyond my ability. But I tried. And I learned. And I will do better next time. And there will be a next time because, like I said, I have nothing but time to play now, and this is how I plan to spend my time.
Once I figured out that a free motion floral design was beyond my realm of expertise, I decided to make my own template and chalk the lines onto each block. Thankfully, this worked well and I was able to execute the design I had originally envisioned. Grant it, the execution of this design took me hours and hours because the chalking was very time consuming, but I'm pleased with the results.
To create the binding, I used the left over scraps from the jelly roll. I've never used this technique before, but I really like how it turned out. I think it looks very quilt-y:
Before John left for college, I began to prepare for my solitary time. During the summer I purchased enough fabric to make four quilts. I figured that it would take me an entire year to complete those quilts. What I didn't factor into the equation was that I would have time, time, and more time to sew. What used to take me weeks and months to make I can now accomplish in days. I'm not complaining - it goes right back to those words freedom and liberating. I enjoy waking up in the morning knowing that I won't have interruptions. I like being able to spend hours alone in my sewing room. I listen to music and watch DVDs all day long (well, I actually just listen while I sew) and I gauge my time not by a clock, but by how many CDs or DVDs I've played that day. This quilt took me two and a half seasons of Gilmore Girls to make, which adds up to be sixty episodes of Gilmore Girls. That equals about forty hours of sewing - forty hours that I didn't have before my kids went to college. I love those forty hours. Hooray for me that there are lots of forty hours in the future.
I think that we unknowingly prepare for transitions when we long for something that is beyond our reach. Had I not yearned for solitary time for so many years, I would not appreciate it now. But I did yearn for it. I craved it and I dreamed about it, and when it dawned on me that it was finally within reach, I prepared for it in earnest. And now that it's here, I don't take it for granted. Instead, I give thanks for each and every free moment that allows me to further explore the things I haven't had time for in years. And to be perfectly honest - I am loving every single minute of my newfound solitary time.