RAIN USHERS SPRING + MOTHERING TWO

 
blooming crocuses in springtime by samantha spigos
purple walled room with children bookcase filled with colorful toys and books by samantha spigos

The crocuses bloomed in our front flower bed, and Mark reports seeing red-winged blackbirds in the fields. These are the surest signs of spring I know of and, gah-lee, are they a gift. The purples, greens, and yellows — every shade of the oncoming season — is electric. Delicate and mighty; not unlike how I want to be. Crocuses are particularly enchanting, and if it weren’t such an ugly word, I might name our next child Crocus. (Cute nicknames, though, am I right? . . . little Croc-y, baby Cus Cus.) In Ohio we’ll soon be getting fragrance drunk on lilac, encouraging the peony ants, and cutting the Easter lilies. Mark and I have Big Plans including but not limited to two apple trees and a lilac bush. But first, the rain.

“If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose,

spring would lose its loveliness.”

— St. Thérèse of Lisieux

mother and child resting on a couch by samantha spigos

I stepped away from social media again, and if this last year of being back on Instagram after 2+ years away has shown me something, it is that I am not well suited to it. Our feed looks nice. I try to engage rather than scroll. I enjoy the visually pleasing content of others, and certainly the users we follow have helped to educate me. Yet, over and over and over, I am left with a hunger that Instagram will never sate. To be sure, it never claimed to, but there are those who seek to assign meaning to most things in life (hi!) for whom social media cannot live up to expectation. A connection chimera. Being removed from such a fast-paced, condensed world is like breathing new air. That, and the crocuses. In the brain and time space that has opened up since, I have become more familiar to myself. Like, hey girl, there you are. Certainly there remains a bit of agitation — part and parcel with any practice in detachment. When I cast aside my fear of stepping away (I will never be known! Our farm that we don’t have will never prosper! I will be forgotten!), I found that fear is nothing more than an invasive weed, stealing the sunlight from the tender, sprouting seeds below. But seeds are tenacious, and need only a bit of sunlight to begin to sprout. Sunlight, and the rain.

Oh, and another thing . . .

pregnant woman stands in front of two sourdough bread loaves by samantha spigos

During the autumn of last year, Mark and I welcomed a new life into my womb. I hardly know why today, the first day of Spring, is when I feel ready to share the news. I have worn the knowledge of this baby quietly and close to my heart, like a warm base layer. My body was quick to make the adjustment, knowing just what to do (the way bodies do), while my heart and mind adapted much slower. No one asked me to hurry. I made no public internet announcements. I walked the streets of town pondering what it meant to be a mother to a second person. I rejoiced in giving my daughter a sibling. I grieved the loss of my life as I had known it. By day I would admire my sister’s dance of mothering five children. By night I would posit questions into my husband’s ear about how we would possibly survive. Every time I named a fear and gave it over to God, surrendering my false sense of control, it was quelled. I am continually amazed at how I can go from panic to peace in a matter of seconds — seconds! — when I let go of the vice grip I try to maintain on my circumstance. Mine was (is) a slow unfolding into mothering a second child. And sharing the news with you, dear readers, is a joy. Will you walk this journey with me once more? Will you share with me your experience with a second child, or your desire to have a first, or why you love being an uncle or aunt? Finally, has spring touched your corner of the globe?


—S

RIPPING BACK FOR A SPIRITUAL SPRINGTIME

 
child's bedroom mantle rainbow and guardian angel by samantha spigos
child holds onto mother's sweater by samantha spigos

The hat I wrote about in my previous post on creative restoration is finished, and I do love what it signifies (read: taking a respite to tend to myself). Just as quickly as I wrote that post, I cast-on a hat for the littlest among us, who has a formidable head and has been without a proper hat the whole winter long. The hat caused me some strife right from the beginning, but I slogged through and tried to make do, pushing aside the voice in my head saying, this isn’t right; you need to start over. I pridefully ignored, the way we do. A furrowed brow and a most unpleasing sea of stitches later, I was reduced to a Complaining Knitter with a hat that hardly resembled the pattern.

I ripped back the hat to the beginning. I am starting over. On one hand it really feels like I wasted time and energy forcing my way through something I knew was not working. On the other, I am poised to begin again, this time with a more thoughtful approach. And while the story of the baby’s hat is true, it’s a metaphor. But I suspect you’ve gathered as much. How often do we hear that voice gently but persistently saying, this isn’t right; you need to start over. How often do we hear but ignore it?

wool yarn and a tea kettle on a windowsill by samantha spigos
vintage antique angel doll and beeswax candles by samantha spigos

We hear it in the midst of creative pursuits, but also in the words we use with our children and partners when we are particularly short on sleep. We hear it when we are thick in social media addiction, scrolling ad infinitum. We hear it when we lambast the world and all the wrongdoers in it until it is us who have turned bitter, hateful. We hear it after we have ignored the physical and emotional needs of our bodies. This isn’t right; you need to start over. Is not this voice a call to cast aside stubbornness and welcome humility? But, ah, that first part — casting aside stubbornness. It’s terrible! Becoming little and quiet so we might listen and experience renewal of spirit . . . is no easy feat. On the part of my personal story, it is much more than Rosemary’s hat that needs to be ripped back and laid bare. It’s my heart. As I crave (oh, how I crave!) for the soil to thaw and the Earth to come to life again, so too do I crave a spiritual springtime. The good news is I know the time is now. Out my window I hear the birdsong of the mourning dove and the chipping sparrow.

In the practice of my faith, tomorrow initiates Lent. Lent culminates in Easter—the truest spiritual springtime. But first we are invited to put in the work of stripping away and laying bare what must go, that we might see and feel the Very Best flowing through us. Whether it is the learned habit of Lent (it always arrives in the hardest part of winter), or the compounding of life’s funny way, I feel deeply eager to strip away the mud in my head and lean into something other than my own thoughts. Even if you are not recognizing Lent, and many of you are not, I am curious to know if you too are feeling a stirring in your heart for restoration? For a springtime, externally and internally? I would be honored to hear how you’re planning to enter in, wherever you might be.


—S

ON CREATIVITY | EARL GREY + PINK STITCHES

 
ceramic bunny tea cup kata golda by samantha spigos

I am a gift knitter. Any knitting skill I possess is something I consider an offering to others. This is less about self-sacrifice and generosity and more about motivation. I am motivated to be-woolen my loved ones, and sometimes their loved ones, and that desire keeps me knitting. Coupled with Mark’s and my economic life being stringently tight every month, I experience major guilt over the notion of purchasing or using yarn for myself. This is a little silly, as I’ve gone three winters without a hat or mittens of my own making. Wait, is this what it means to be a mom? At the onset of this year, I burnt out on knitting — even for my own child, who is generally my ever-flowing spring of inspiration. I managed to cast on a few things, but if the single child’s pant leg taunting me from the other room is any indication, they were not seen through. Surely a stuffed penguin was the answer after the joy I felt sewing Rosie’s bunny (who has since been named Posie), but in the end each attempt fell by the wayside and I spent too much time on my phone. Surely you can relate.

At the root of this creative slump were two factors: I wanted to knit with vibrant color but did not own any, and I wanted to knit something for myself. After prodding my sister over how to get over these feelings and rise out of the slump, she rationally replied that I should buy some colorful yarn and knit myself something. A novel idea if there was one.

mondim yarn fingering weight hat knitting by samantha spigos

I probably first imagined the moral of this story to be something like, “avoid rewarding the notion that life will get better if you spend money, and use my knitting piety as an example,” but the reality is that investing in myself was a very healthy decision. This is what the internet calls self-care. Knitting, it turns out, is more than an avenue for gifting woolens to loved ones. Methodical and centering, it is a practice that not only takes me out of the wildness of the world, but it also connects me to sheep who worked hard to grow the wool that I wind and throw between my fingers. For living in town and possessing no more than 1/4 acre backyard, it is remarkable that I can interact with specific breeds of sheep daily. Putting a small sum towards this practice reinvigorated my creative spirit. As for the color itself, staring at saturated pigment during a wet, icy, gray winter has been a truly effective way to offset the lowness I have been experiencing. Slump conquered.

And one other thing. Are you a tea drinker? Always good for a cup of tea but never particularly jazzed about it, my love language was, until recently, coffee. A good ten years with a decidedly unhealthy coffee addiction, I became foreign to myself when, after pregnancy, my body could nary tolerate the caffeine or acid. I made the switch to black tea (with one blessed cup of decaf to start the day) and feel just about ready to identify as a Tea Drinker. Do you have a tea you love? A blend you make yourself? A story about a particularly good cup of tea or coffee (or Diet Coke; I’m looking at you, mom)? I would genuinely love to hear from you in the comments. Talking about food and drink experiences ranks in my top ten list of ideal topics.

black tea ceramic tea cup lilac teapot by samantha spigos

P.S. The yarn is Retrosaria Mondim in colorway 205, and the tea is Lord Bergamot with heavy cream. Both enchanting.


—S

WHY I LOVE VALENTINE'S DAY SO DEARLY

 
mother and child by samantha spigos
pink and red playsilks valentines gift for baby by samantha spigos

You know how certain things need defending? Like ice cubes in a glass of milk, Shania Twain, and socks with sandals? For the record, I do and will uphold all of the above. It’s due time to stand in defense of lowly, overlooked Valentine’s Day. It was in middle school that I started wearing pink pants and decorating homemade valentines for friends to mark the occasion, but really it was childhood that fortified my deep love of the day. My mom was working by the time I can remember the holiday, leaving well before any of us were awake. Being a household of seven, a lot of things get lost in translation, such as getting picked up from school (only once or twice did this happen, but I did have to lift my feet so the janitor could vacuum around me, and you don’t forget a thing like that), having lunches packed (we did the packing; I’m sorry, dad, for the time I packed you nothing but a piece of cake), etc.

For the things that occasionally got overlooked (and understandably, I might add), it seems to me that my mom never let Valentine’s Day go uncelebrated. One year when I went downstairs, long after she had gone to work, there they were: boxes of sugary, name brand cereal. One for each sibling, with a note featuring her iconic lipstick kiss next to a heart with the word MAMA. Another year there was a heart-shaped box of chocolates, a treasure to be savored and hidden from all of my fiendish siblings. And every year of elementary school, when kids could still design and bring in their own valentine boxes, she would help me craft something magnificent. No straightforward boxes for the Jacksons. In first grade she made me a butterfly out of a barrel shaped plastic pretzel tub and cardboard wings. Fourth grade? A life-sized vacuum. I pushed it the whole way to my grandma’s house on the walk home from school, and with pride. In fifth grade we made a large house, complete with a front door and a bedroom window featuring the school photo of your’s truly. I come by my love of Valentine’s Day naturally.

And then there’s the pink and red color story. Warm, loving, inviting colors to punctuate a wet, drizzly, cold month. Right in the middle of February we are offered a chance to feel embraced, if by the colors alone. Mark and I love to host a Valentine’s supper for friends or family, because if there’s one thing I know for sure, it is that a day of love needn’t be relegated to romantic love. Love is for everyone, and so is February 14th. Unclear on what to do this year, and suspecting that it might be a normal hamburger and rice sort of evening (we have a one year old, after all), I have taken to celebrating in little ways. Red and pink clothes, handwritten notes and homemade valentines, a cup of rosy black tea each afternoon, a little extra baking, you get it.

Why not write a note to your love? Or bake some cookies with your kids? Or go for a walk and tell the ground you love it, tell the sky you love it, tell your lungs and legs you love them? For the diehards out there who cannot and will not give it a chance, I surely have not convinced you. But if perhaps you love a reason to make an otherwise ordinary day a little extra, I think Valentine’s is for you.

P.S. Pictured above are the two playsilks I picked out from Ginny’s shop to give Rosemary, despite her not being old enough to remember. In the future she’s getting cereal, but only the good stuff.


—S