Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I'm Back

I’m back from Long Beach and I was very lucky to get home before the big snowstorm. I fear many of my friends who were also at the show were stranded in airports throughout the country. I had a wonderful time seeing old friends and meeting some new ones. I had a very successful booksigning at the Unicorn Booth. It’s been about 8 years since I have attended one of these winter shows. I was amazed to observe that so many of the retailers’ faces are new. Most of the shopowners I met weren’t in business 8 years ago. I’m sure there are many longtime shops still going – it’s just that I didn’t meet them this trip.

It was a spring show so most of the yarns shown were cottons, linens and blends. I don’t enjoy knitting with cotton nearly as much as I do wool so the yarns didn’t really interest me. What I did have fun with was meeting some authors I had never met including Susan B. Anderson of “Itty Bitty” fame and Melissa Morgan-Oakes who has a new book out called Two at a Time Socks. I got to re-connect with my old friends at Vogue Knitting, Interweave, and Knitters Magazines. I think I picked up some upcoming projects for which I am thankful and excited about.

The trip was fast and furious – 2 days on planes and 2 days at the show with 3 dinners. It seems that I went out there to eat and meet and greet book distributors. Amy Greeman and Kim Corey at Storey did a great organizational job and it all was totally painless and a bit of fun.

Getting back to my real life always has a bit of de-combustion involved. My family survived but both The Farmer and Julia are really happy I am back. I must say, even the cats are happy I am back. Lambing season isn’t exactly the best time for me to leave this place. Lambing is more than a full-time job and as good of a dad as Mark is, he found it extraordinarily hard to do a good job at both sheep farming and child-rearing. Homework didn't get done (don't ask me why?)! Driving a tractor with a little kid on your lap proved so difficult that he broke a board on the feeding rack and all the sheep escaped. Mass hysteria ensued but luckily his brother and his daughter stopped by unexpectedly and helped round the sheep back up into the pen and fix the fence. Julia spent a little more time at the barn than she really cared to and The Farmer found out just how much energy and time it takes to care for a child all day and night long.

I went to college in the late 70’s during the height of the women’s movement. I always have considered myself a feminist at heart. Luckily, I found a partner who had grown up in a family of boys being raised by a widowed woman. Betty made an example to her boys that there really wasn’t anything a woman couldn’t do. The Farmer has never had any expectations of gender roles in our marriage and for that I am thankful.

But when Julia was born and had her various health issues, surgeries, etc. I was the one who stayed home from work and took over the primary childcare. I wanted to and needed to. I often questioned my choice and asked myself why I was doing it. The choice was financial as well as logistical. I chose to leave a good job and career to take care of Julia. As life bobbled along, I didn’t have much time to become philosophical about the decision nor the need to do it.

Since we moved here to the farm and I began working free-lance, we have somehow fallen into the normal stereotypical male and female roles. I take care of the house, the meals, the gardens and the child. He (The Farmer) takes care of the farm and his business. For now it is working. But I want to be an good example to my daughter. I want her to know that yes, women do work – both inside and outside the home. Women’s work, no matter what it is, is and should be valued. I want her to know that when she grows up and moves out on her own, she can be responsible for herself – both emotionally and financially. I may be worrying about all this before I should (Julia is 9) but after this weekend away, I can’t help but think about it. I’m hoping by going away a few more times this spring for business purposes, it will help her see that yes, I really do work and generate some income that helps to run this here farm.

With two parents who work for themselves, we are an odd example for a child. We feel fortunate that right now, neither of us goes to a typical office and has co-workers. We fit in working around our lives and somehow we are surviving.


Mama Urchin said...

From what you say I think Julia sees you working for the farm too. The sunflowers, the help with the lambs. It may not be as physical but I think it's work the same. And you're teaching her that not all work comes with a financial reward. To me, that's a good lesson to learn.

Anonymous said...

Kristin, I agree with your thoughts on division of work. David and I had a totally equal marriage until our boys came along...and then I became Wilma Flintstone and he became Fred Flintstone. But by working now and going on business trips, talking about how much I enjoy what I do and how it benefits our family, I think everyone is SLOOOOOWLY coming around to accepting the way things are.

melissaknits said...

It was lovely to meet you too! Let's do it again - say February?

We had dramatic life changes here in the past 20 years...I went from stay at home mom to full time student to full time nurse, to part time nurse and then full time stay at home mom round two, and now back to...whatever it is I am doing now. For me what matters most is that they see my passion, that they feel my commitment and my love for whichever job I'm doing, and that they see my husband's support of me as a woman and a person.

Jocelyn said...

Your post about balancing life/work/responsibilities was really thought-provoking. I worked in a corporate job for the first nine years of my son's life (he's now 15). My daughter was only 4 when I left the corporate world, so she doesn't really remember what it was like to have a babysitter 8-6 5 days a week. DS and I were just talking about my current "job" (as an LYS employee - not a career, he said). I pointed out that the fact that I have flexible hours means that I am home a lot more. He agreed with that and actually admitted that he is happy about that. I'm fortunate that although my husband has an office job, he has a lot of flexibility and can be home with the kids when I'm not. That said, we also have traditional family responsibility roles most of the time. Anyway, I think are lots of ways to set examples of women's roles these days, and most of them come with their own compromises. I guess that's an important lesson in itself.

Willow said...

Roles change as the situations change. When the children were younger, The Professor and I had more traditional roles, except that he has always done most of the shopping and I have done the yard work, to our mutual satisfaction. Now that the children are adults, we share the money earning and the household chores. If truth be told, he does a lot of dishes and laundry b/c my work hours are longer.
Kristin, did you see Village Spinning and Weaving owners? I asked them to tell you hi from Willow!

Cathy said...

So glad you're back...and made it before the storm. I so enjoy your stories & am always dragging my co-workers over to see lamb pictures.


Luni said...

Balance in all things. I did set the good example for my daughter by working hard, long, hours when she was young. Now that I work from home, and have relaxed a bit about it, I'm worried when I talk to her and realize how driven she seems. There's something to be said for teaching your children that it is ok to relax, too.

tina said...

Excellent thoughts about what we teach our daughters by example. Truly, there is not much that is more important! The hard part I think that almost every mother I know doesn't really SEE the payoff to this life long adventure, although it is most certainly there!

Anonymous said...

Glad to see that Otto really is back at the farm.

And glad that you are back. It was a good show for networking for all of us.

Take care,

Iron Needles said...

Having raised 3 daughters, first at home, then in a non-traditional career, I hope I have been the example to them that we have choices, that we live with the results of those choices, and that balance is key, whatever those choices are. I don't know I have been the best example all along, except that we learn as we go.
Love the kitty photos, almost as much as the Julia photos.

Joanne said...

I do not see you and your husband as being odd examples. You are providing “lessons in life” for your daughter about how to be responsible for ones life. You have not left your career behind; it has been adjusted to fit your priorities (family) and chosen lifestyle. You are thinking in the right direction towards your daughter’s future. She is already observing a positive role model. You. As she becomes independent and can accept more responsibility I am sure there will be opportunities to work alongside both her father and you. It is the ethics behind the work not what gender performs it and should be reinforced by the parents. I really enjoy your designs Take care.