With the shelter in place order going on for over two months now, the necessity for “micro-doses” of working on projects to give myself a mental break have become both incredibly crucial and especially difficult to accomplish. Crucial because if I don’t do them/get them, I become some version of a troll crossed with a ravenous bear; difficult because I am on mom-duty solo for a good part of the day while my partner is working, and we tag-team for most of the rest of the kids’ waking hours.
To prevent my transformation to TrollBearMama, I have at least one go-to project that I can pick up at any time, work on without much fuss or prep, and be reasonably assured that I will make visible progress. It’s kind of like not feeding a Gremlin before midnight, but backwards. Mama has to do something that isn’t Mama-ing for five minutes before she starts to Bear (this happens first). Current anti-TBM project: a blackwork “stitch-along” project from Peppermint Purple.
So, some quick background/glossary work: blackwork is a kind of hand sewing where you make geometric designs, usually in one color, on a grid-like fabric. The designs can sometimes be very complex, but you don’t do any “fill” like embroidery or cross-stitching. A stitch-along is where you are doing a project in synchrony with a bunch of other people you probably don’t know and you are generally hitting milestones in the same time period. It’s supposed to keep you accountable, but my anxiety likes to try to make it stressful if I fall too far behind. I usually throw a pillow or piece of chocolate at it at that point and tell my anxiety to go fly a kite.
In this case, the project is a “year of stitching” and the designer is releasing a blackwork pattern each week, so we only do a little at a time over the entire year. Because I can’t just do patterns as they are written, it’s a condition, I was inspired by some others in the stitch-along to choose the thread color based on the average high temperature for that week. Oh and the border of each pattern is going to be a different color based on total rainfall. This project now requires a spreadsheet. With data gathering. And formulas. And color charts. It is PERFECT.
You know what else is perfect about it? It’s small and doesn’t have many pieces. The data lives on spreadsheet in The Internet, so I can get to it from my phone. All the physical paraphernalia fit in a project bag (which I originally purchased to give my daughter for Christmas but lost and forgot about but then found after Christmas. Oops.) And that little bag can fit in my purse! Yes, the small purse, don’t be so cynical. The bag can also fit behind the couch pillow to keep it from little hands, and it’s lightweight so my partner can toss it to me when I forget it in the other room. #totallyplannedit
So when the baby goes down for his nap whether he likes it or not, my partner is working, and the big kid is being read to by Grandma over FaceTime? That’s right, I’m getting some much needed mental replenishing. Sometimes I get a whole half hour, but most of the time? Five minutes. Ten minutes max. But I can see the progress I make and that keeps the TrollBearMama at bay for another day.