slow motherhood

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

A BUNNY OF HER OWN

 
cotton wool handsewn bunny by samantha spigos

Rosemary turned one on the twenty-first of January. In truth, I love this age the most. I love that she is no longer a tiny newborn, no longer a floppy, squealing six-month old, no longer a freshly crawling nine-month old. The goal of raising children and living our own lives is to keep staying alive, no? Every stage was our favorite stage (well, except the first spell of teething). I feel no sadness that the days have been slow but the year flew by. Mark and I rejoice in our one-year old girl, thanking God for her health and vibrancy and undeniable charm; thanking God she is alive and thriving! Perhaps in twenty years I will lament how quickly it all passed, but for now I feel content to spend each day with our one-year old, our Bubinga, our bunny. Speaking of, I sewed Rosemary a birthday bunny.

handsewn bunny first birthday gift by samantha spigos
handsewn wool cotton bunny first birthday by samantha spigos
first birthday gift handsewn cotton wool bunny by samantha spigos
cotton wool handsewn bunny by samantha spigos

Long before Rosemary was Rosemary, but rather a floating water baby we referred to as Shim, I purchased the materials to make a stuffed bunny. I really, really love a good stuffed toy. It’s the history of mohair bears, the companionship of fuzzy bedtime friends, and the unexpected reasons children love the ones they do that spurred my desire to sew my own. It’s no secret here that I am deeply devoted to natural fibers, in jest referring to myself as a Wool Evangelist. I know of a handful of special toy makers out there producing heirloom-quality stuffed toys made exclusively of natural fibers (cotton and wool, mostly). I want to buy all of them, but at present can not exactly afford any of them. For Christmas Rosemary received a donkey and a hedgehog from her gurny, and a pocket doll from her grandma — each one made of cotton, wool, and alpaca fibers. Talk about a lucky lady! (Or is it me who really loves them? As Mark’s mom once joked during a gas station pitstop, “You want her to have the beautiful toys, but she’s going to want the Beanie Boos from the gas station.”) Having held onto the slubby cotton fleece and peach wool felt for more than a year, I contemplated not going forward with sewing her any animal at all. Sure, I’d invested in the materials, but could anything I make really compare to the toys she had just been gifted for Christmas?

It turns out that yes, it can.

cotton wool handsewn bunny by samantha spigos
wool cotton handsewn bunny by samantha spigos

“Real isn't how you are made,” said the Skin Horse.

“It's a thing that happens to you.

When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with,

but REALLY loves you,

then you become Real.

The Velveteen Rabbit

cotton wool handsewn bunny by samantha spigos
cotton wool handsewn bunny by samantha spigos
cotton wool handsewn bunny by samantha spigos

It took roughly a week to sew, and this is from someone who has only sewn three garments total. Much of that week was spent waiting for the wool stuffing to arrive and hand stitching the limbs and head to the body. The day before her birthday I haphazardly freestyle embroidered her initials into the rear, because should not all handmade objects come with a love letter? This was the most enjoyable project I’ve made in a year or more. Something about knowing my child would hold it, possibly even love it, and maybe keep it close by for a very long time truly fueled me with an honest ambition I do not generally feel while making. If you have never made a loved one a stuffed toy but think you might like to, please consider this the gentle nudging you need. Unsurprisingly, I want to knit and sew stuffed toys forever now.

Happy birthday to our Rosemary Isidora, a little funny bunny of a one-year old.

cotton wool handsewn bunny by samantha spigos

For the inquisitive . . .

+ Materials used*:
Organic cotton fleece (1 yd)
Wool felt in color Peach 69 (1 mm square)
Cotton sewing thread in color 1140
Sashiko embroidery thread in color Orchid Pink
+ Soft Woolen Bunny free pattern.
+ A sunshine dress to bring cheer (from the shop of an amazing heritage toymaker).

*This material list provided enough fabric and thread that I can sew two bunnies.


Or, a few heirloom-quality bunnies ready to be gifted . . .

I’ve compiled the very best stuffed rabbits I know of. They are not inexpensive. If it’s within your means to provide a gift like this to someone you love, I would gently encourage you to trust that your gift will be cherished. Like adults, children truly do have the capacity to appreciate and respect high-quality objects.

+ Baby’s first bunny. This bunny went everywhere Rosemary went for months.
+ A true velveteen rabbit, thread whiskers and all.
+ German-made bunny that is sure to be passed down.
+ Spectacular rabbits to grow through childhood with (from the maker of the sunshine dress).


—S